Last month I posted this list of holiday book recommendations. They’re all works of high quality popular history, with some verging in a more academic direction, because that is all I read. This was inspired by, part of, an idea I’ve been percolating for some time of starting a TPM Book Club as part of TPM. For now, as we’re at the tail end of the year I wanted to add a few more recommendations.
Unlike that other list I want add a short review in each case. This is just a list of books, most published in the last few years which I considered very good.
Before adding my list I thought I should say something about the criteria I apply to recommendations. The critical one is quite subjective. If a book doesn’t hold my attention I usually stop reading. You can learn a lot of information page by page. You don’t always need to read it from cover to cover. So a critical part of my judgment about a book is whether it engages me enough, sufficiently engrosses me that I finish reading it. That is only a threshold criteria. But it’s a key one. The engagement, though, is a particular one: does the book bring me into an unfamiliar world, which is past always is, and make me need to understand and absorb the story I’m being told and the questions and problems it raises.
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