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Senators' Favorite Crisis Lit

A year and a half after the financial system nearly collapsed, the boom in crisis lit is still going strong.

Three crisis-related books are on the bestseller list at the moment — Crisis Economics, by Nouriel Roubini, an economist who predicted the crisis; 13 Bankers, by Simon Johnson and James Kwak, who write the blog Baseline Scenario; and The Big Short, by Michael Lewis, the narrative nonfiction writer who started his career with a memoir about his brief stint on Wall Street.

A bunch of other books bankers and economists have cycled through the list.

But of all of them, it's the Lewis book that seems to be winning the most hearts and minds on Capitol Hill.

The Big Short has been mentioned "at least 15 times on the Senate floor and in press conferences and committee hearings," Politico reports. That includes some explicit plugs, like when Harry Reid said: "I recommend everyone within the sound of my voice to read the book."

The shout-outs seem mostly to have come from Dems, but Lewis has also been name checked by a few Republicans. The book isn't particularly prescriptive; for the most part, it's a character-driven narrative about a few outsider-types who predicted and profited from the housing bust.

But people like a good story. "It's very readable," one senator said.

"When senators are reading your book, it reaffirms your faith in society, on the one hand," Lewis told Politico, "and, on the other hand, it makes you nervous, because I don't think of myself as advising people who are actually going to change things."