What I’ve been reading

1. Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town, by Nick Reding.  Maybe I should define a new category: "Good enough to finish."  This is one of the better recent books on the economics of culture.

2. The Great Contraction, Friedman and Schwartz.  Classic economics books like this are almost always worth a reread.  I had forgotten just how bad was the year 1931.

3. Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States, by Andrew Coe.  There is way too much well-known diplomatic history in this book, but the best fifty pages are good enough to make it worthwhile.  That said, I could have saved a lot of time, by flipping rapidly through the boring pages. had I not been reading it on my Kindle.

4. A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska: The Story of Hannah Breece, collated and edited by Jane Jacobs.  A reasonably interesting look at Alaskan, Aleut, and Russian culture around the turn of the century, as told through the eyes of a settler woman and edited by Jacobs (with how much intervention I am not sure).  This makes for a good contrast with Jacob's work on urban economies.  It's not thrilling all the time but overall I would recommend it.

5. Middlemarch, by George Eliot.  No other book I have tried so profits by a reread on Kindle.  Given its density of information, it's simply much better when there is less on each page.


My students have asked me about purchasing Kindle texts rather than print versions for F09 classes. I said don't, mostly because the texts in question are reference books (a handbook, a glossary) rather than novels. But "dense" is a good description of the prose in many older novels. Other Kindle readers--does the electronic format slow you down in a useful way?

How do you read five books at the same time?

I've been reading Middlemarch on my Kindle as well (although it's my first time).

"How do you read five books at the same time?"

I believe he doesn't. These posts are just ads for Amazon in poor disguise. Surely Mr Cowen reads a lot - but not five fairly lengthy books every twenty days or so (see his last "What I've been reading" post on July 23rd). That would mean reading 300+ pages on average every four days. For someone busy like he's supposed to be (blog, academic career, family), I find that infeasible.

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