1. Garry Kasparov on Garry Kasparov, Part 1: 1973-1985, by Garry Kasparov. Self-recommending! His chess books are full of history, drama, and suspense, in addition to the chess, he is simply a great mind.
2. Michael Krondl, Sweet Invention: A History of Dessert. The best book I know on the history of dessert, with plenty of information on India, my personal favorite dessert country. There is also the short and useful Bread: A Global History, by William Rubel.
3. Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain. Written in the 1940s, published in the late 70s, ignored, just republished. It’s like reading a poem. The Guardian is on the mark to call it “The finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain.”
4. Katerina Clark, Moscow, The Fourth Rome: Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture 1931-1941. A revisionist take which portrays the culture of the era as about more than just about communism, in any case thought provoking.
5. Peter Conrad, Verdi And/Or Wagner. A multifaceted comparison of the two composers, integrating music, politics, and history, readable and recommended.
6. William A. Barnett, Getting it Wrong: How Faulty Monetary Statistics Undermine the Fed, the Financial System, and the Economy. He pushes his own work on Divisia monetar aggregates, although Scott Sumner will tell you that a steely focus on nominal gdp will suffice.
7. David Mikics, Who Was Jacques Derrida? Recommended by Gordon, this book is a good intelligent and intelligible introduction to Derrida.
8. Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station. So good (and short) that I read it twice in a row, it is a mock of “creative” slackers who decide they wish to live abroad. One of my favorite novels of the year.