What I’ve been reading

1. Days on the Family Farm, by Carrie Meyer.  An interesting economic study of life on an early twentieth American family farm, based on personal diaries, and an antidote to anyone who thinks that all GMU economics faculty are like the bloggers you know.

2. Theory of Clouds, by Stephane Audeguy.  I loved this novel, which was the rage in France but sadly will die here stillborn.  Think Julian Barnes, Sten Nadolny, or Kazuo Ishiguro.  Short, fun, dreamy, and conceptual.  Its quality illustrates one of my favorite book-buying algorithms, which is to snap up serious foreign fiction translated into English, if only because the selection pressures are so severe.

3.  Free Trade Reimagined, by Roberto Unger.  This is the fourth book this year to challenge the doctrine of comparative advantage, a more important fact than any argument in the books themselves.  The book is weak on empirics but it does present the sophisticated version of the anti-free trade arguments.  I don’t believe in open borders, so I suppose I’m not a free trader either.  Unger is smart, smart, smart, but that doesn’t mean he should be Minister of Long-Term Planning in Brazil, which he is.  Here’s the whole thing on-line.

4. The Bad Girl, Mario Vargas Llosa.  That makes two wonderful novels in one week.  I don’t enjoy all of his recent work, but this one is very fun, hearkening back to the tradition of Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.  The Edith Grossman translation is first-rate as always.

5. The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, by Alex Ross.  Ross won’t quite say it, but he tries to convince the reader that
the twentieth century is the best century for music, ever.
That’s without pushing serialism too hard or resorting much to popular
music.  Sibelius, Janacek, Messiaen, and John Adams are among the heroes in this story.  If you
are only going to buy (and read) ten books on music, ever, this should be one of
them.  Here is one good review.  Here is a Jason Kottke interview with Ross, very interesting.

It was an amazing week for reading (the best since I’ve started doing MR) mostly because it was an amazing week for flying.  There’s more to come…