My 5 Favorite Books Of The Year

Apple and two publishers, Macmillan and Penguin, were accused by the Justice Department of conspiring to fix prices of digital books to undermine Amazon's dominance of the industry.
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Apple and two publishers, Macmillan and Penguin, were accused by the Justice Department of conspiring to fix prices of digital books to undermine Amazon's dominance of the industry.

Power Lunch anchor Brian Sullivan does a lot of driving, and that makes him CNBC's king of books on tape. Here are his top 5 book choices from the past year:

Two quick disclaimers: These books were consumed this year but may have been written before then and two, I say 'consumed' because most were listened to as audio books (the only upside to along commute).

5. Empire of Deception, Dean Jobb

Along with The Match King, this is another great, true story about a long con Ponzi that, like all pyramid schemes, eventually crashes to the ground. The ease with which a quiet, mild mannered Chicago lawyer named Leo Koretz swindled investors is a lesson in trust for all. When someone tells you, "there will never be another Bernie Madoff," remind them of Koretz and how Madoff wasn't even the first Madoff. A quick, engaging read that's well worth it.

4. So You've Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson

Writing in the way only Ronson can, the author goes deep into a variety of stories about those who have gained notoriety, (been 'shamed'), what happened to each of them, and how they are dealing with it. Ronson's dry wit is on full display, but he is still able to tackle the often difficult stories in the book with humanity. Note: not everything in the book is easy to hear, and some may be unsafe for gentle ears, but in an era of near daily internet scandals, Ronson helps us look at the stories behind the headlines, the real lives impacted, and – more importantly - wonder where it will all end.

3. Avenue of Spies, Alex Kershaw

The true story of an American doctor and his family who not only lived around the Nazi high command in World War II Paris, they lived on the same street as many of the German military leaders. And yet they continued to help the French resistance for most of the war. A tale of incredible bravery in a nearly impossible situation, Kershaw's book reminds us that even in times of global strife, a few dedicated people really can make a difference.

2. Shadow Divers, Robert Kurson

How I had never heard of this incredible story before reading this book I have no idea, but I'm glad I stumbled across it. Though the book jacket says it's, "the true story of two Americans who risked everything," it is much more than that. Imagine scuba diving in the dark,cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, happening on what you believe to be a World War II German U-Boat, having no one believe you, spending more than five years of your life trying to prove what you'd found, and having a few friends and dive-mates die exploring the wreck over the years. That's just a brief summary of what happened off the coast of New Jersey in the 1990s. I scuba dive, so I found what they accomplished particularly incredible, but you certainly don't have to be a diver to appreciate this story.

1. Abundance, Peter Diamandis & Steven Kotler

The word, "important," is frequently overused when it comes to arts & literature, but that word isn't hyperbole when describing Diamandis & Kotler's masterpiece. Though occasionally wonky, the authors present a detailed and optimistic view of the future. In an age of nearly constant pessimism and doomsaying, Abundance lays out a convincing case for why humans will be better off in the future than we are today. Technology, food, money, and democracy are all a part of the overall story of how things really are getting better around the world, despite what we may hear everyday. The book left me with a healthy dose of optimism, and what could be better than that?

Commentary by Brian Sullivan, co-host of CNBC's "Power Lunch." Follow him on Twitter @SullyCNBC.