1. Barb Stuckey, Taste: What You’re Missing: The Passionate Eater’s Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good. A very good and interesting look at how and why food tastes as it does, from a professional food developer.
2.Robert J. Sampson, Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect. I’m still grappling with this book, which I find difficult to parse. It’s a very detailed empirical study of the strength of neighborhood effects, with reference to Chicago. I thought I would give the book its own post, but it is difficult to excerpt. I don’t quite understand how he distinguishes neighborhood effects from selection effects, though I have read his discussion that selection effects are themselves neighborhood effects, ultimately. I feel there is a good deal of interesting social science in here, but the book should be far more transparent. William Julius Wilson called it “…one of the most comprehensive and sophisticated empirical studies ever conducted by a social scientist.” Here is a Harvard story on the book. For sure some of you should pick this one up, but I am myself still torn.
3. Lifeboat: A Novel, by Charlotte Rogan. A genuinely gripping story of a bunch of people in a sinking lifeboat, facing the usual philosophical dilemmas. Maybe that doesn’t sound thrilling, but I pressed on eagerly and read it to the end.
4. Free Market Fairness, by John Tomasi. Here is Matt on the book: “Without being by any means a libertarian, I do think that people of a left-wing orientation sometimes give short shrift to the non-pecuniary aspects of economic freedom. Whether or not you buy that barber licensing rules are a big deal economically, the specter of the government throwing a person in jail for participating in an exchange of haircuts for money between consenting adults should bother liberally inclined people for basically the same reasons that all random state interference in the conduct of private life is bothersome.”
5. India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy, by Ramachandra Guha. Both informationally dense and conceptual, in a good way.