1. Christopher Tyerman, The World of the Crusades: An Illustrated History. The best and most engrossing history of the crusades I have read. By the way, the “children’s crusade” probably didn’t have that much to do with children. The periodic topic-specific two-page interludes are especially good.
2. Tobias Straumann, 1931: Debt, Crisis, and the Rise of Hitler covers a critical episode in European history, and one which has not entirely faded into irrelevance. The author is a financial historian rather than an economist, so think of this book as scratching your history itch, in any case recommended.
3. Jim Auchmutey, Smokelore: A Short History of Barbecue in America is the most current of the best histories of barbecue and it is more bullish on the barbecue future than most treatments.
4. Chris Miller, The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy: Mikhail Gorbachev and the Collapse of the Soviet Economy. One of the best books on the beginnings of the reform era, with a special focus on whether the Soviets could have chosen a Chinese path (no, too many embedded interest groups, so does that mean Mao is underrated?).
5. Katherine Eban, Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom. A “worth reading” look at what the title promises, but all the best parts are about how the FDA tries to regulate generic drug production in India.
6. Roger L. Geiger, American Higher Education Since World War II. Not as sprightly as I might have wished for, nor does it cover the controversial issues in the conceptual fashion I was hoping to find, but nonetheless an extremely useful resources for teaching you the basic facts of how the sector has evolved.
New out from Princeton University Press is Robert J. Shiller, Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral & Drive Major Economic Events.
There is Heather Boushey’s new How Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do About It.
Yale has published a new translation of Book of Job, translated by Edward L. Greenstein, very likely worth a read.