Matthew O’Brien's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Matthew O’Brien recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Matthew O’Brien's favorite book recommendations of all time.

An eye-popping and hilarious joyride through the underworld of sports betting
Beth Raymer arrived in Las Vegas in 2001, hoping to land a job as a cocktail waitress at one of the big casinos. In the meantime, she lived in a $17-a-night motel with her dog, Otis, and waited tables at a low-rent Thai restaurant. One day, one of her regular customers told her about a job she thought Beth would be perfect for and sent her to see Dink, of Dink Inc. Dink was a professional sports gambler—one of the biggest in Vegas. He was looking for a right-hand man—someone who would show up on time,...
Recommended by Matthew O’Brien, and 1 others.

Matthew O’BrienIt’s about a young girl who moves out here with her boyfriend. Then they break up and she’s in need of work and unsure what to do, and she comes across a job opportunity as an assistant to a sports bettor. It’s about her experiences in this male dominated sports betting world. (Source)

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Leaving Las Vegas

Leaving Las Vegas, the first novel by John O’Brien, is a disturbing and emotionally wrenching story of a woman who embraces life and a man who rejects it. Sera, a prostitute, and Ben, an alcoholic, stumble together and discover in each other a respite from their unforgiving lives. A testimony to the raw talent of its young author, Leaving Las Vegas is a compelling story of unconditional love between two disenfranchised and lost souls—an overlooked American classic. less
Recommended by Matthew O’Brien, and 1 others.

Matthew O’BrienI saw the movie first and thought it was a depressing but beautiful film. The book is a short, beautiful novel, a sad and beautiful love story. Usually, red flags go up for me when I see a Vegas book or movie with a prostitute and a drunk as the two main characters – it’s a bit clichéd and I’m bored with those kind of tales. But there was something different about Leaving Las Vegas. It felt real. (Source)

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The Green Felt Jungle

The Green Felt Jungle was the first book that dares to penetrate the mirage of Las Vegas, the respectable, fun-loving resort where carefree tourists may innocently and legally indulge in gambling. In a carefully documented expose (which includes some astounding, secretly taped confidential conversations), the authors explore the real Las Vegas-a clever (and profitable) front for organized crime.Everything is legal, of course-everything except mysterious, unreported murders, systematic tax evasion, widespread prostitution, tacit segregation, and the graft that greases the entire system.Why was... more
Recommended by Matthew O’Brien, and 1 others.

Matthew O’BrienThe opening line is: “Las Vegas is a city in statistics only. In every other respect it’s a jungle.” The green felt refers to the covering of the gaming tables. The book documents the corruption in the city during the 1950s and the connection between the Mob and many hotel-casinos. (Source)

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How I Got Cultured

A Nevada Memoir

Phyllis Barber grew up in Las Vegas, in the midst of a devout Mormon family. As a small child, she began to feel uneasy with her faith's all-pervasive certainty and righteousness. As she grew, the tensions between her religious beliefs and her desire for a larger, more cultured life also grew. She studied piano and dance, performed with a high school precision dance team, worked as an accompanist in a ballet studio and as a model.How I Got Cultured is a moving, candid, and sometimes hilarious account of an American adolescence, negotiated between the strictures of a demanding faith and... more
Recommended by Matthew O’Brien, and 1 others.

Matthew O’BrienIt’s a unique book. First, a woman wrote it – men write most books about this town. Second, it’s about someone who grew up mostly in Boulder City but also in Las Vegas, someone who had a normal upbringing. A lot of the literature on Vegas is about strange dysfunctional characters, even clichés. I think what I like most about this book is just how unexpected it is. It’s a beautifully written... (Source)

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken. less
Recommended by Bill Earner, Matthew O’Brien, and 2 others.

Bill EarnerMy favorites [novels] are 100 Years of Solitude, All the King's Men, The Last Samurai, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. (Source)

Matthew O’BrienIt’s one of my favourite books and probably my favourite Las Vegas-related book. Hunter S Thompson came out here in the early 70s to cover the Mint 400 off-road race for Sports Illustrated. He ended up writing a 10,000-word riff on his visit. In 1971, Jann Wenner ultimately published two long sections of it in Rolling Stone. Those two stories were the foundation for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. (Source)

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