1. Euny Hong, The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture. A genuinely good and fun introduction to South Korea today.
2. Clyde Prestowitz, Japan Restored: How Japan Can Reinvent Itself and Why This is Important for America and the World. A not-absurd view of how Japan could be fully back on its feet by 2050. Imagine a Japan which employs women at an especially high rate, moves almost completely to green energy independence, and revitalizes its investment and corporate governance; I found the chapter on “Englishnization” least plausible, however.
3. Leila S. Chudori, Home. A classic Indonesian novel, recently translated, about Indonesian exiles in Paris, post-1965, and how they are unable to cut their emotional ties with the homeland. If you are only going to read a few Indonesian novels, this should be one of them.
4. David Stubbs, Future Days: Krautrock and the Birth of a Revolutionary New Music. Self-recommending.
5. Frits Gierstberg, European Portrait Photography Since 1990. Mostly photos, not much text, the artists include Rineke Dijkstra, Jurgen Teller, Thomas Ruff, Nikos Markou, Anders Petersen, and Clare Strand. This book made a strong impression on me, and I find it to be one of the best meditative tools for thinking about what Europe really is these days. By the way, the under-representation of Islam (not popular with collectors?) is striking.