1. Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad. At first I feared it was too trendy, but I ended up engrossed.
2. Stephen R. Platt, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War. Pseudoerasmus calls this the best book on the most underrated big war in human history; he is right. It also gives you a good sense of how 50-100 million people might have died.
3. Mark Bowden, Hue 1968: A Turning Point in the American War in Vietnam. Both a very good Vietnam War book, and a very good Vietnam book.
4. Rousas John Rushdoony. The Foundations of Social Order: Studies in the Creeds and Councils of the Early Church. Uneven in argumentative quality, but brilliant in parts, this is one of the conceptually most interesting books on early Christianity. It turns out your views on Christology really do shape your politics, and furthermore there is a coherent version of libertarian Calvinism, except it isn’t very libertarian, and it comes from…having the right Christology. Recommended, it opens up new worlds for the reader.
5. Thomas Mann, Der Zauberberg. I had never read this in German before. For all its extraordinary intellectual and emotional peaks, it is also remarkably witty.