What I’ve been reading

1. Dave Prager, Delirious Delhi: Inside India’s Incredible Capital.  An excellent book on India, an excellent book on a city, and an excellent book on Delhi, all rolled into one.  Unlike many travel books, it tells you a lot about the city.  Here is a short excerpt.  I believe it does not yet have full availability in the United States; order it from the first link above, the author tells me that the current Amazon link is actually a fraud.

2. Katerina Clark, Moscow, The Fourth Rome: Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1931-1941.  A detailed and insightful revisionist look at Soviet culture during that period, asking whether it really can all be boiled down to communism or if there was more behind it and it turns out there was.

3. David Roodman, Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance.  Puts microfinance into a broader historical perspective, balanced and insightful throughout, informationally dense, recommended.  A good model for many other non-fiction books.

4. Michael Erard, Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners.  A fun and useful book, you can take the subtitle literally.  You need to ignore the very weak material on neurodevelopmental issues.

5. John Cowper Powys, Wolf Solent.  Unlike George Steiner’s claim, this is not comparable to Tolstoy.  Still, it is an excellent if uneven 1920s novel that ought to be read more widely.  The best passages are frequent and striking.  The bottom line is that I can imagine someday reading it again.  If you are tempted, give it a try.

There is also the self-explanatory Emrys Westacott, The Virtues of Our Vices: A Modest Defense of Gossip, Rudeness, and Other Bad Habits.


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