1. The Weeping Goldsmith: Discoveries in the Land of Myanmar, by W. John Kress. The subtitle sounds so intriguing and then you discover its about the search for rare plants. But it turns out to be even better than you thought at first. It's a wonderful introduction to Myanmar, the idea of a scientific quest, and some aspects of botany. The photographs are beautiful too. I very much like books which serve up surprising combinations, as this one does.
2. Umberto Eco, The Infinity of Lists. The color plates are beautiful and favor artworks with large numbers of massed individuals. The book itself is mostly excerpts of classic texts and it doesn't have much insight into…lists.
3. Gridlock: Why We're Stuck in Traffic and What To Do About It, by Randall O'Toole. This Cato book is mostly an attack on transportation planning, including a critique of high-speed rail subsidies.
5. No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33", by Kyle Gann. There are over twenty-four recordings of this piece and skeptics can consider that an attempt at competitive rent exhaustion. Yet probably none of those have come close to David Tudor's presentation of the work at its premiere.