1. Marc Morris, The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England 400-1066. A pretty good book. It has been criticized for focusing on “dead white males,” but isn’t this a history of dead white males in large part? The photos are quite good. My main problem is simply that I find the whole era inscrutable. Still, if you wish to learn whether Aethelred the Unready was in fact…unready…this is one good place to go.
2. Andrew Steele, Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older Without Getting Old. I haven’t read all of the popular “anti-aging” books, but perhaps this is the best one? It presents the diversity of problems involved, and the difficulty of solving them, while remaining ultimately hopeful about the possibility of progress. Most of the meat of the book is in the middle chapters, which are also good for explaining how aging research relates to broader biological and disease-linked issues.
3. Kara Walker, A Black Hole is Everything a Star Longs To Be. Mostly images of her drawings, no text to speak of (though many of the drawings themselves have text). These 600 or so drawings will be on exhibit in a show in Basel that I hope to visit this summer, Covid conditions permitting. I find her work a better introduction to “current race issues” than most of the recent well-known books on race issues. Smarter and more powerful.
Steven Johnson, Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer, is a very good history of exactly what its title promises.
Matt Grossman’s How Social Science Got Better: Overcoming Bias with More Evidence, Diversity, and Self Reflection is both substantive and honest.