Recent additions to the bookshelf

New additions to the bookshelf you might like. The piles of unread books are growing faster than I can finish them, but I feel as if I’m surrounded by new and interesting friends.

I recommend On Writing Well for anyone interested in non-fiction writing; I laugh out loud even as I’m taking notes. For a book where laughter is the main aim, I like David Sedaris. Three editions of the London Review of Books have also arrived since I last posted about new books. If you don’t subscribe, you should.

Recent additions to the library

New additions to the bookcase that may be of interest to you:

Special mention to Perry Anderson’s threepart series on Europe in the LRB. The series clocks in at 45,000 words, and I’m only a third the way through. Recommended, if only for his erudition.

Now if only books could be read as fast as they could be bought.

What I’m reading

My post on what one should read was quite popular, so I thought I would share what I am reading right now, as an illustration of the principles in action.

I usually try to pair an easier and harder read together. This once meant non-fiction during the day and fiction at night, but I increasingly prefer biography or history as my bedside reads. I usually have a Spanish novel at hand and read a few pages each morning to practice – it’s more interesting than Duolingo.

  • Una historia de amor y oscuridad – Amos Oz
  • Black Swan – Nassim Taleb
  • The Essential Keynes – Edited by Robert Skidelsky

What next?

Debt ยป Melville House Books
Easily the best cover on the ‘to-read’ list

Something appealing while browsing a bookstore on a sunny Saturday is not always what I feel like reading standing in front of my bookshelf on a Tuesday night. The solution has been to buy liberally, and have as many options as possible at home. Add to that Christmas, and my ‘to-read’ has swelled to a largely aspirational status. Still, I find it comforting to sit surrounded by little rows of colorfully bound and titled mysteries.

  • The Path to Power – Robert Caro
  • On the Genealogy of Moral / The Gay Science – Nietzsche
  • Debt – David Graeber
  • Assorted Poems – Keats
  • The God Delusion – Dawkins
  • The Mediterranean (Abridged single volume) – Fernand Braudel
  • Perdido Street Station – China Mieville
  • The lucky country – Donald Horne

To this must be added the impossible-to-catch-up-to pile of London Review of Books back editions. If you don’t already, you really should consider subscribing. It truly is the best magazine in the world.

Books in 2050

Tens of thousands of new book are published each year. Most will be forgotten. The graveyard is especially full of non-fiction on current events or future trends. As a result, I have switched to reading more older works, on the logic that anything which has persisted for decades should have some merit. Even where it does not you get a perspective on how people once thought and by association how we think today.


Still, if you do want a contemporary selection that will stand the test of time, a new paper in Econ Journal Watch asks “What 21st-Century works will merit a close reading in 2050?” Its skewed towards economics texts but persistence will be rewarded. I have already added The Tyranny of Experts and A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment to my list.