1. John Derbyshire, We are Doomed. He complains because most Western culture today does not live up to the standards of Carol Burnett and Saturday Night Fever.
Really. If there's one thing that can be said, it is that yesterday's
cultural pessimists were more interesting than the pessimists of today.
2. Michael Chabon, Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son.
I ended up enjoying this more than I do his trendy fiction. This
supposed paean to family life collapses quickly into narcissism, but
that's in fact what makes it work. I was surprised but not shocked by
the part where he deliberately tortures his infant son.
3. Socrates in the Boardroom: Why Research Universities Should be Led by Top Scholars,
by Amanda H. Goodall. I actually laughed when I read the subtitle.
She discusses fundraising in the second to last paragraph of the book.
More generally, you can take this book as a radical attack on economic
reasoning: she believes that having a Ph.d. will cause a person to
ignore the incentives that face non-Ph.d.-holding individuals in the
4. John Keay, China: A History.
The clearest and more intelligible treatment I've seen — ever — of
all those dynasties and murky sides of Chinese history. Yet if I
understand this book on early Chinese history — and no other — should
I in fact be suspicious?
5. J.M. Coetzee, Summertime.
I bought my copy up in Edmonton, where it is available for $32.99 or
so. I thought it was excellent, but also that few people will
appreciate the extent to which the story centers around an autistic