1. Hassan Blasim, The Corpse Exhibition and Other Stories of Iraq. Short stories about the conflict in Iraq, by an Iraqi. I expected to find these widely heralded stories to be disappointing, as the premise is a little too easy for the Western critic to embrace. But they are excellent and this book is one of the year’s best fiction releases.
2. Michael Hofmann, Where Have You Been?: Selected Essays. Excellent and informationally dense literary essays, I especially like the ones on the German-language poets and writers, such as Benn and Walser and Bernhard and Grass.
3. Andy Weir, The Martian. Ostensibly science fiction, but more a 21st century Robinson Crusoe story — set on Mars of course — with huge amounts of (ingenious) engineering driving the story. Lots of fun, many other people have liked it too.
4. Andrew MacGregor Marshall, Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the 21st Century. It is hard for me to judge the specifics of the argument, still this is a readable and conceptual account of the mess that is Thai politics, namely that much of it is about royal succession. If true, this is a very good book.
Arrived in my pile is Amy Finkelstein, Moral Hazard in Health Insurance, with Gruber, Arrow, and Stiglitz as commentators.