1. David Foenkinos, Charlotte: A Novel. A holocaust escape story, written in a kind of blank verse, this book was a bestseller in many countries but mostly ignored in the United States. Original, recommended, and a quick but compelling read.
2. John Foot, Archipelago: Italy Since 1945. There should be more books like this, namely giving you a smart overview of the recent history of an important country. This one is especially strong on the nature of Italian corruption, the importance of connections in Italy, changes in the Italian education system, and the origins of the Northern League.
3. Holly Case, The Age of Questions. Starting in the early nineteenth century, an “age of questions” began, including the Jewish question, the German question, the Bullion question, and many others: “The essence of the age of questions was the practical accommodation of physical reality to the attitude of interrelation that the age engendered.” Books on abstract themes are often difficult to pull off, but this one expanded my thinking and historical understanding.