What I’ve been reading

by on December 24, 2011 at 7:34 am in Books, Uncategorized | Permalink

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.

In my pile of review copies are Jonathan Schlefer, The Assumptions Economists Make, and Paula Stephan, How Economics Shapes Science.

1 David S December 24, 2011 at 10:18 am

Try the Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach. Translated from German. Science Fiction (?)

2 SouthCarolinian December 24, 2011 at 11:07 am

I’d lay off the Indian desserts given diabetes rates among urban Indians.

3 Sergey Kurdakov December 24, 2011 at 11:25 am

your attempts to promote great chess master ( you were chess master as well ) could be understood, still you are ( not the first time ) wrong on Kasparov overall mental skills. He is really clever man, but consider, that such passages ( by him ) could not be written by great mind http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Essay:Kasparov's_Mathematics_of_the_Past

in addition to this article he wrote quite similar preface to Fomenko ( pseudo historian math professor ) book , from which one can understand, that Kasparov hardly understands for example how potato and other crops changed Europe in modern age ( for him the growth of population in Europe is unexpected and is due to some supposed falsification – but at least one should think if new crops could be culprit for population change or not, and most probably it is, for Kasparov – thee were no new crops at all, as well no any other significant reasons ).

Such promotion of Kasparov as a great mind ( for a man with strange and sorry, but it is true, near insane ideas ) serves a good thing. If one knows on Kasparov a little more – one can deduce that Tyler very often just jokes on his blog pages ( which is not the first impression, the first impression is that it is really valuable source of information). Of cause, attempts by Kasparov to construct ‘new history’ based on faulty computations without consideration any context is not very important after all. But still besides being really great chess master Kasparov with no doubts is not great mind – for severe lack of context knowledge and more – neglect for even existence of such knowledge.

And balanced outlook on ‘great minds’ is what can constitute ‘interesting read’, instead Tyler just promotes his own agenda.

This is something one can find useful for himself while browsing ‘interesting’ blogs. That even good bloggers sometimes could intentionally promote not very good info into readers heads, just for the sake of own tastes of what could be a good joke on readers.

4 widmerpool December 26, 2011 at 9:31 am

I’ve mentioned Kasparov’s nutsoid history obsessions on here before, but Tyler never comments and continues to post about what a genius he is at fairly frequent intervals.

5 David Sucher December 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I’ve asked you before (and others I imagine) how you can “read” so many books at one time and I think you have answered here on this blog.

Can you please remind me of the link? Thx.

6 Tyler Cowen December 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Try putting “how read” into the MR search function, maybe those posts were in the years 2005-2007?

7 Engineer December 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Recommended by Gordon, this book is a good intelligent and intelligible introduction to Derrida.

Derrida made a whole career out of being unintelligible.

Try “Against Deconstruction” by John M. Ellis or this article: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1998/jun/25/the-politics-of-jacques-derrida/?pagination=false

8 William A. Barnett December 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Glad to see you are reading my new book. I hope you enjoy it. The book is complementary with the program I direct at the Center for Financial Stability in NY City. See http://www.centerforfinancialstability.org/amfm.php. The center’s US data are particularly revealing at http://www.centerforfinancialstability.org/amfm_data.php.

9 D December 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm

“Try ‘Against Deconstruction’ by John M. Ellis…”

I remember reading about 90 pages into this book and putting it away for good, fully confident that finishing it would be a waste of time. That is to say, by that point the author had already succeeded in his task many times over.

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