1. Gianni Toniolo (editor), The Oxford Handbook of The Italian Economy Since Unification. If you want a 742-page, $142.50 volume on the Italian economy, written by highly intelligent and well-informed experts, but with some repetition, this is indeed the place to go. And that was exactly what I wanted.
2. Michael Suk-Young Chwe, Jane Austen, Game Theorist. I remain a Chwe fan, even though I appreciate Jane Austen less than do most other readers of intelligent fiction.
3. Toni Strubell, editor, What Catalans Want: Could Catalonia be Europe’s Next State? I loved this book. First, it is full of information about what Catalans want. Second, no one person is allowed to go on for too long. The book offers fascinating data — in the Hansonian manner — about “the logic of complaint,” namely what many people consider to be legitimate grievances and also about how people frame some of the emotional deficits in their public lives. The photos of the contributors reflect something common, though I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’m going to keep this one and reread many parts of it.
4. Willy Hendriks, Move First, Think Later: Sense and Nonsense in Improving Your Chess. To me, more interesting as behavioral economics and as epistemology than as a chess book. The author claims that most chess advice is bad, and that we figure out positional strategies only by trying concrete moves, not by applying general principles. You do need chess knowledge to profit from the book, but if you can manage it, it is one of the best books on how to think that I know.
In the last week, the quality of my reading has been above average. I’ve also been enjoying the Feenstra and Taylor international trade text. This book is very well-written, as are the contributions of Krugman, but overall that field has some of the worst writing in all of economics and also many of the most pointless (yet still well-cited) theory pieces.