1. Jonathan Bate, Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life. Fun, lots of sex for a serious book, and it makes you appreciate the diversity of human beings.
2. Ted Gioia, How to Listen to Jazz. Delivers what the title promises, in short, readable form; this book is good for either the jazz lover or the beginner. I am a big fan of pretty much anything Ted Gioia does, and this book has not broken the streak. By the way, here is Gioia on Ortega y Gasset and his continuing relevance.
3. Albert Camus, The Stranger. Worth a reread, especially if you grew up with something other than the Matthew Ward translation. Surprisingly current in its orientation and interests.
4. L. Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers, This is Your Brain on Sports: The Science of Underdogs, the Value of Rivalry, and What We Can Learn from the T-Shirt Cannon. I enjoyed this book and found it reasonably analytical. There is a “home court” advantage even during hockey fights, and having sex before a big game doesn’t seem to diminish performance.
5. Joshua Gans, The Disruption Dilemma. A very good introduction to the game theory and institutions of “disruptive innovation,” the book also dispels many myths about that concept.
6. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance. I’m surprised this novel doesn’t attract more ongoing attention, even if some of the final plot choices seem a bit strange or forced. It is a brilliant critique of utopianism, socialism, Romanticism, and also philanthropy. I kept on thinking Arnold Kling should read it. In any case it is a marvelous story, a good read, and chock full of social science. You’ll find one controversial reading of the story here (jstor), a panoply of speculative hypotheses here (pdf).