1. Anne Enright, The Green Road. Could Enright be the least heralded, English-language novelist in the United States today? I also was a big fan of her last book Actress. Her short pieces are wonderful as well. Having won a Booker, she is hardly obscure, and yet I have never had anyone tell me that I absolutely must read Anne Enright? Even after the very recent burst of interest in Irish writers…I will read more of her!
2. Patrick Leigh Fermor, The Traveller’s Tree: A Journey Through the Caribbean Islands. My favorite Fermor book, the best sections were on Trinidad and Haiti, but you might have known I would think that.
3. Nadia Durbach, Bodily Matters: The Anti-Vaccination Movement in England, 1853-1907. Back then vaccines were quite often dangerous: “Victorian public vaccinators used a lancet (a surgical instrument) to cut lines into the flesh in a scored pattern. This was usually done in at least four different places on the arm. Vaccine matter, also called lymph, would then be smeared into the cuts…[often] vaccinators required infants to return eight days after the procedure to allow lymph to be harvested from their blisters, or “vesicles.” This matter was then inserted directly into the arms of waiting infants…After 1871, a fine of up to 20 shillings could be imposed on parents who refused to allow lymph to be taken from their children for use in public vaccination.” Oddly, or perhaps not, the arguments against vaccines haven’t changed much since that time.
4. Andrew G. Farrand, The Algerian Dream: Youth and the Quest for Dignity. There should be more books like this! Imagine a whole book directed at…not getting someone tenure, but rather helping you understand what it is actually like to be in Algeria. Sadly I have never been, but this is the next best thing. As I say repeatedly, there should be more country-specific books, simply flat out “about that country” in an explanatory sense. As for Algeria, talk about a nation in decline…
Eswar S. Prasad, The Future of Money: How the Digital Revolution is Transforming Currencies and Finance is a useful overview of its source material.
Anna Della Subin, Accidental Gods: On Men Unwittingly Turned Divine, starts with the question of how Emperor Haile Selassie became a god to Rastafarians in Jamaica, and then broadens the question accordingly, moving on to General Douglas MacArthur, Annie Besant, and much more. I expect we will be hearing more from this author. At the very least she knows stuff that other people do not.
You can learn the policy views of Thomas Piketty if you read his Time for Socialism: Dispatches from a World on Fire, 2016-2021. Oddly, or perhaps not, his socialism doesn’t seem to involve government spending any more than fifty percent of gdp, which would be a comedown for many European nations.