1. The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula LeGuin. I hadn’t read this since I was fourteen, but it held up surprisingly well and I enjoyed it thoroughly. This time around I could see how much the author is the daughter of anthropologist Alfred Kroeber.
3. Patrick French, India: A Portrait. Consistently thoughtful. I didn’t love it, but a reader could do much worse. I finished it.
4. John Gimlette, Wild Coast: Travels on South America’s Untamed Edge. Yes, this book covers Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. A revelation, I loved it. Could Gimlette be my favorite current travel writer?
5. Richard White, Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America. I like the first hundred pages very much, so you’ll probably be hearing more about this one, which is a major study of its topic, with a good deal of coverage of Canada and Mexico too, often from a comparative perspective.
Also in my pile is Menzie D. Chinn and Jeffry A. Frieden, Lost Decades: The Making of America’s Debt Crisis and the Long Recovery.