What I’ve been reading

by on January 11, 2012 at 7:08 am in Books | Permalink

1. Dave Prager, Delirious Delhi: Inside India’s Incredible Capital.  An excellent book on India, an excellent book on a city, and an excellent book on Delhi, all rolled into one.  Unlike many travel books, it tells you a lot about the city.  Here is a short excerpt.  I believe it does not yet have full availability in the United States; order it from the first link above, the author tells me that the current Amazon link is actually a fraud.

2. Katerina Clark, Moscow, The Fourth Rome: Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1931-1941.  A detailed and insightful revisionist look at Soviet culture during that period, asking whether it really can all be boiled down to communism or if there was more behind it and it turns out there was.

3. David Roodman, Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance.  Puts microfinance into a broader historical perspective, balanced and insightful throughout, informationally dense, recommended.  A good model for many other non-fiction books.

4. Michael Erard, Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners.  A fun and useful book, you can take the subtitle literally.  You need to ignore the very weak material on neurodevelopmental issues.

5. John Cowper Powys, Wolf Solent.  Unlike George Steiner’s claim, this is not comparable to Tolstoy.  Still, it is an excellent if uneven 1920s novel that ought to be read more widely.  The best passages are frequent and striking.  The bottom line is that I can imagine someday reading it again.  If you are tempted, give it a try.

There is also the self-explanatory Emrys Westacott, The Virtues of Our Vices: A Modest Defense of Gossip, Rudeness, and Other Bad Habits.

1 anti-Mon January 11, 2012 at 8:06 am

Thank you for the reference about the Soviet Union book. I’m writing an essay about that topic! Mon!

2 anon January 11, 2012 at 8:33 am

1. Dave Prager, Delirious Delhi: Inside India’s Incredible Capital.

According to the author’s web site, the book available on Amazon that you linked to is a fake:

You can buy it direct from the author’s web site.

(It’s amazing to me that this title from a major publishing house is not available for sale on Amazon. Somebody really dropped the ball.)

3 AVX January 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Re: Delirious Delhi … I’ve been following the authors blog for couple years now. Anyone interested in the book would
want to read the authors blog posts first.

4 Glass Fog January 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Where do you find the time to read all these books?!

5 Neeraj Krishnan January 11, 2012 at 10:58 pm

He’s probably finished reading a book in the time it takes us to read this blog post. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_23/b4231066695798.htm

Question: What did you do at age 3?
Answer: Read a lot of books

6 D C Squared January 11, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I’ve seen many “what I’ve been reading” posts and found worthwhile reading material in them, though I can’t keep up with you in terms of volume. But today, for the first time, I saw a book on your list that I’ve already read – Wolf Solent.

Your description is accurate, but I can’t see myself ever reading it again. This may be tied to the differences in our consumption rates – when one reads more slowly, only the truly exceptional books are read more than once.

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