What I’ve been reading

1. The Sacred Book of the Werewolf, by Victor Pelevin.  A fun Russian weird novel; here is a good review of it.  It’s one of the few works of fiction I’ve finished lately.

2. The Patron’s Payoff: Conspicuous Commissions in Italian Renaissance Art, by Jonathan K. Nelson and Richard J. Zeckhauser.  Put together a collaborating art historian, a first-rate microeconomist, an interest in signaling and a preface by A. Michael Spence and this is what you get.

3. White Heat: The Friendship Between Emily Dicksinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, by Brenda Wineapple.  Yes, this is a very good book.  But it has the same problem that most other Emily Dickinson books have.  Her poems are so short you can fit them into a narrative and they are so strong they tend to overwhelm any non-fiction context they are put in.

4. Geoffrey Heal, When Principles Pay:Corporate Social Responsibility and the Bottom Line.  The main point is that socially responsible behavior is often profitable for business in the long run.  I know that doesn’t sound like such a compelling message right now, but this is a highly intelligent and now a sadly neglected book.

5. Samuel Johnson: A Biography, by Peter Martin.  This is only the third best biography of Johnson (Walter Jackson Bate is #2) and it is still one of the best books of the year.  What does that say?


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