1. Camilla Townsend, Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs. I read this one straight through, it does more to bring the Aztecs (a misnomer, by the way, as it is technically the name of the military alliance…a bit like referring to “NATO people”) to life than any other book I know.
2. Daniel M. Russell, The Joy of Search: A Google Insider’s Guide to Going Beyond the Basics. I don’t need this, but I suspect useful for many.
3. Thomas O. McGarity, Pollution, Politics, and Power: The Struggle for Sustainable Electricity. A very useful of the last four decades of transformation in the electricity industry.
4. Norman Lebrecht, Genius & Anxiety: How Jews Changed the World 1847-1947. An informative and engaging account of what the title promises (you can learn more about Heine and Alkan and Moholy-Nagy). Nonetheless the author never really addresses the question of why that period was quite so remarkable for Jewish achievement, relative to the rest of world history.
5. Edmund Morris, Edison. Lots of impressive research, but this book didn’t have the emphasis on innovation and institutions that I was looking for.
There is also Anne Case and Angus Deaton, Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism.