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4 Thought-Provoking Books about Rich People that Will Make You Rethink Rich People

4 Thought-Provoking Books about Rich People that Will Make You Rethink Rich People

I love to read. I’ve been a little geeky bookworm since elementary school. But in recent years I’ve been particularly drawn to book depictions of the ultra-rich - not only showing how they live, but how they think, how they make choices, where their priorities lie, and - most tantalizing of all - who they really are, the version of themselves they don’t let the world see.

There are more books that explore these thoughts than you might think, so here’s my personal list of top-notch reads about just that.

The Great Gatsby

A wonderful classic that you must read if your ninth grade English teacher hasn’t made you already. A long-lost love - set amidst the roaring 20s - gets rekindled when a man goes to great lengths to win over his old sweetheart. But a tangled web of factors - his lover’s husband included - creates some obstacles for their reunion. The symbolism makes it a literary snack, and you’ll have a new secret in your small talk arsenal for sophisticated chatting at the next party you attend.

Primates of Park Avenue

This is hands down my favorite book of all time. You’ve got the Hamptons. You’ve got designer everything. You’ve got uber-rich Manhattan mommies whose language, behaviors, personas, and habits say an awful lot about their wealth and how it influences them. And you’ve got Wednesday Martin, a brilliant writer with a Yale doctorate, who chose to observe - nay, assimilate with - these odd creatures of the Upper East Side. It’ll make you think deeply, lust for a Birkin, hate the Queen Bitch of the bitchy moms at school, but also empathize with them as Martin points out that all moms can unite in their struggles with their insecurities. 

The Swans Of Fifth Avenue

Taking us through the fabulous forties and fifties in New York City, where the richest of rich social scene hums and flutters within their exclusive hideaways and soirees, this book paints a delightfully vivid picture of a city of old charm, and the famous elite who inhabited it. You’ll find yourself on a Wikipedia wormhole looking up the steady stream of references to actors, singers, billionaires, and royalty from decades past, but it’s well worth the digging to keep up. Cue Truman Capote, a wildly flamboyant up-and-coming writer from the South who takes the glassy lake of New York’s upper crust social circles, befriending the socialite “swans” bejewling them: Slim Keith, C.Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness, and Pamela Churchill. And the crown jewel of them all, Babe Paley, whose picturesque life seems perfect from every angle - to all, that is, except Truman, who comes to befriend Babe and know her in a way no one else (husband included) does. But by way of a scandalous betrayal that rocks New York’s high society, Capote’s career - and social connections - come crashing down. For a delicious guilty pleasure read riddled with gossip, wit, and diamonds, The Swans of Fifth Avenue is worth a read.

China Rich Girlfriend/Crazy Rich Asians/Rich People Problems

Kevin Kwan is one of the most descriptive writers I’ve ever encountered, and his trilogy depicting Asia’s wealthiest circles is his best testimony. Bringing to life the richness of every sensory exposure to Asian culture, from Hong Kong to Singapore, you’ll find your mouth watering for their food markets and your eyes sparkling with lush mansions and designer everything. Following the love story of golden child and handsome heir Nick, and unsuspecting New Yorker professor Rachel, readers will relish the wild ride through the craziness that is the Asian high society.

Cover image via Glamour

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