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When it comes to my free time, I'm usually playing video games, reading, writing, or playing guitar. Studies have shown these activities go a long way in keeping your brain sharp as you get older.

The brain needs exercise, and all you have to do is look around for five seconds to find someone who hasn't had a workout in years. Don't be that person. Read. Challenge yourself.

Here's a quick list of my favorite books at the moment to help you tickle your gray matter.

Griftopia

Matt Taibbi is one of my favorite modern writers. His writing pulls no punches. It's sharp, witty, and incredibly well researched. Taibbi's biggest strength is taking difficult subject matter and writing about it in a way that is accessible for everyone.

Griftopia is the culmination of Matt's hard work digging into, and covering the 2008 financial crisis.

The book is described as

...fresh reporting on the backroom deals of the bailout; tells the story of Goldman Sachs, the “vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”; and uncovers the hidden commodities bubble that transferred billions of dollars to Wall Street while creating food shortages around the world.

Griftopia can leave you giggling while you die a little inside, and I can't recommend it enough.

Fear and Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72

My favorite writer of all time is Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. The self proclaimed doctor of journalism was an absolute master of the English language.

This book has long been considered one of, if not the best written account of the American political process. Thompson's coverage of the '72 presidential campaign is brutal. Thompson's wit shines as he pulls back the curtain on the campaign machine. At times hilarious, and at times disheartening, it is such a good read.

It also includes some of Hunter's most memorable moments, like riding in a limo talking about college football with his arch nemesis, Richard Nixon. There's also the Ibogaine/Ed Muskie incident.

Since we're in the middle of a campaign season that has a cluttered field of Democrats and a Republican president that is the single most polarizing figure in American politics since Tricky Dick, I recommend reading through this one with me. It's a blast when you start seeing the parallels.

John Dies At The End

I wasn't sure what to expect when I purchased a copy of John Dies At The End. What I got was an at times hilarious thrill ride through alternate dimensions with talking dogs, evil bug creatures, the dead rising but not really, and a twist at the end I never saw coming. The book was fantastic. I've heard the movie is nothing to write home about.

If you like sci-fi, horror, blood, guts, gore, and dark humor then you'll love John Dies At The End.