1. Peter Ames Carlin, Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon. I hadn’t known that Simon originally recorded the Hearts and Bones album with Garfunkel, but later erased his partner’s contributions to the songs. Nor had I known that Simon produced a stripped-down, acoustic guitar version of “Surfer Girl.” For fans, the book is interesting throughout, and most of all the story is of an ongoing rivalry — with Art — that never became functional again once it collapsed.
2. Antonio Di Benedetto, Zama. A 1950s Argentinean novel set in colonial times, and beloved by Roberto Bolaño; the introduction describes the author as “a would-be magical realist who can’t quite detach himself from reality.” For fans of the disjointed tragic. I very much liked it, but had to read the first half twice in a row to grab hold of what was going on.
3. Elizabeth Brown Pryor, Six Encounters with Lincoln: A President Confronts Democracy and its Demons. Fresh and stimulating throughout, I found most interesting the parts of how the Commander in Chief role of the president evolved under Lincoln, and Lincoln as the first “media president.” Highly relevant for current politics too.
Forthcoming is Joe Quirk, with Patri Friedman, Seasteading: How Ocean Cities Will Change the World. Comprehensive and readable, though I am not a convert.
William Mellor and Dick M. Carpenter II, Bottleneckers: Gaming the Government for Power and Private Profit, is a very useful look at how laws and regulation block progress and create barriers to advancement.
I have only browsed Milan Vaishnav, When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics, but it appears to be a quite interesting political economy take on the (non-optimal) transactional economies from having criminals so deeply involved in Indian politics.
Minxin Pei, China’s Crony Capitalism: The Dynamics of Regime Decay, takes a close look at Chinese corruption, based on a detailed study of two hundred cases.