1. House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski. This experimental novel, written with varying typefaces, page layouts, and interjected footnotes, is a fun mock of the academization of literature. It has a large cult following but can be enjoyed by the general reader. Don’t be intimidated by the heft, a third of the pages are essentially blank. It felt great making so much progress so quickly.
2. The Grid: A Journey Through the Heart of Our Electrified World, by Phillip F. Schewe. Better than no book at all, but this important topic still awaits its definitive treatment.
3. The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks, and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction, by Patrick Anderson. A good guide and overview, the author argues that Raymond Chandler is overrated relative to say Macdonald or Kehane.
4. Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate. This Soviet-era masterpiece, which covers the Battle of Stalingrad, bored me. I have no complaint about its quality, I simply felt the time in my life is past to further digest those themes in an emotionally meaningful way.
5. Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union: A Novel. This comic detective story is based on an alternative reality in which Israel loses the 1948 war and the surviving Jews settle in Alaska. It’s the first book of his I’ve liked, though I don’t think it has much substance.
6. Don Boudreaux recommends ten books.