1. The Childhood of Jesus, by J.M. Coetzee. Two-thirds of this is superb, although as a whole it doesn’t quite hang together. It’s still much better than most of what is published.
2. David Soll, Empire of Water: An Environmental and Political History of the New York City Water Supply. A good overview of the history, plus it makes it clear just how much the growth of the City required somewhat rapacious behavior with respect to the water rights of upper New York State. The early history of the Groton Reservoir is interesting too.
3. Mark Leibovich, This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!, in America’s Gilded Capital. I feared this would bore me with atheoretical mud-slinging and gossip, but it is actually an astute look at “behavioral public choice” and how a lot of D.C. politics actually operates. If you think you might want to read it, you should, although you can stop somewhere in the middle just fine. My main objection is the subtitle.