What I’ve been reading

1. Annie Ernaux, The Years.  The most famous book by the most recent Nobel Laureate in literature, and a good and stimulating read.  It takes about twenty pages before you figure out what is going on, so stick with it.  Nabeel was ahead of the curve with this one.

2. Maria Edgeworth, Ormond.  An Irish novel from the early 19th century, it wonderfully portrays the contrast between the Anglo-Irish and “Irish” worlds of the time.  Not a perfect read by any means, but some parts are really quite interesting.  With good enough googling you can find the Penguin edition on Amazon, but I don’t feel like doing it again.

3. Katy Hessel, The Story of Art: Without Men.  A good revisionist account, and with nice photographic images.  Still, the treatment is oddly conservative in some regards.  Why not much more coverage of textiles and pottery, two areas with a highly significant female presence?  Why not more on photography, especially in its earlier phases?  Overall this is a good catalog of underrated women creators, but it won’t help you to understand their history much.

4. Andrew Mellor, The Northern Silence: Journeys in Nordic Music & Culture.  An excellent book trying to understand the Nordic countries through the lens of music, architecture, and the arts.  “Finland has an unusually high proportion of expatriate Japanese.”  This one will make the addended “best of the year” list.  A good study of social capital, in addition to everything else.

5. Lulu Yilun Chen, The Story of Tencent and China’s Ambition.  There should be more books on Chinese businesses, and this is a good start in that direction.

There is Glory Liu, Adam Smith’s America: How a Scottish Philosopher Became an Icon of American Capitalism.  Not exactly my point of view, but a very able treatment of how later free marketeers picked up on Adam Smith, interpreted him for their own purposes, and how that process had so much influence.

And Leah Kral of Mercatus has a very good new book out: Innovation for Social Change: How Wildly Successful Nonprofits Inspire and Deliver Results.


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