1. Ruby Warrington, Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Concentration Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol. Both the title and content make it self-recommending.
2. Jonathan Bate, How the Classics Made Shakespeare. “One key argument is that Shakespeare’s form of classical fabling was profoundly antiheroic because it was constantly attuned to the force of sexual desire.” Bate is very smart and this book shows it.
3. Henry Farrell and Abraham L. Newman, Of Privacy and Power: The Transatlantic Struggle over Freedom and Security. An important contribution to political science, expanding on their concept of “weaponized interdependence,” namely how the U.S. (and sometimes other political actors) uses access to international networks, such as SWIFT, to push other nations around. See #weaponizedinterdependence on Twitter for an introduction.
4. Andrew Lambert, Seapower States: Maritime Culture, Continental Empires and the Conflict that Made the Modern World. Covers the Phoenicians, Venice, the Dutch Golden Age, the rise of the British empire, and more. Interesting throughout, but I most liked the final section on why there are no seapowers today, and why China and Russia never will be seapowers. Overall a nice integration of geopolitics and culture.
5. Rucker C. Johnson and Alexander Nazaryan, Children of the Dream: Why School Integration Works. A good summary of what the subtitle promises, though I was hoping for more attention on the costs and losers from those arrangements.
6. Guzel Yakhina, Zukeikha. Translated from the Russian by Lisa C. Hayden, a Tatar woman is sent into exile in the Soviet Union of the 1930s. This is one of the novels I enjoyed this year, several others I know concur.