1. Larissa MacFarquhar, Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help. Profiles of people who are obsessed with helping others. That is a wonderful premise for a book, somehow for my taste it didn’t run quite deep enough. Still, many people will like this one a great deal.
2. Nicholas Stargardt, The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-1945. I read only about a fifth of this one. I thought it was a very high quality treatment of how German citizens perceived WWII, and also quite readable. It didn’t match my interests at the moment, but I am happy to recommend it.
3. J.M. Coetzee and Arabella Kurtz, The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy. A running dialogue between Coetzee and a psychotherapist, some of it is interesting. Some of it. But after the early sections on the dangers of storytelling, I got bored. Surely at some point empiricial psychology deserved a mention.
4. Harry G. Frankfurt, On Inequality. A very short book, but longer than the blurb I wrote for it: “Economic equality is one of today’s most overrated ideas, and Harry G. Frankfurt’s highly compelling book explains exactly why.”
5. Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner, Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction. What makes some people very good at forecasting? Self-recommending, here is a good Q&A with Tetlock. The real question of course is why isn’t everyone working on this?