1. Samuel Fleischacker, The Good and the Good Book: Revelation as a Guide to Life. A nice, articulate, and well-reasoned account of how a reasonable person might turn to faith and believe that faith and reason are compatible. The author is a well-known Adam Smith scholar.
2. Abraham Hoffman, Unwanted Mexican Americans in the Great Depression. The best and most readable book I have found on the deportation of Mexicans during the Great Depression, most of all during the 1931-1935 period. Reading up on this era puts today’s America in useful perspective.
3. The Curse of Cash, by Kenneth Rogoff. The quality of argumentation and presentation is high, as one would expect from a Ken Rogoff book. Still, I don’t think it has so much to convince those who might be worried about a currency-less surveillance Panopticon, or those who think negative interest rates are mostly a contractionary and not-so-useful tax on financial intermediation.
4. Mats Lundahl, The Political Economy of Disaster: Destitution, plunder and earthquake in Haiti. More of a potpourri of Haitian economic history than what the titles indicates, the best 20 percent of this book has insights you won’t find in other places. For me that is a high hit rate, I liked it.
5. John Hardman, The Life of Louis XVI. I’m only about fifty pages into this one, but so far it is a first-rate biography, both detailed and conceptual in nature, likely to make the list of the year’s best non-fiction books.