It’s simply a story of humans living well — Jordan, and the people of Amsterdam as a whole. It is connected but free, rebellious but highly functional for human needs. If you like the city at its best, or like cycling, or simply have a care for human flourishing, this is a wonderful little book. I loved it before I bought it, I was thoroughly enblissed while reading it, and I already know it’s one I will keep remembering with the thought: this is how life should be.
2. The Twilight of the Presidency,
George E. Reedy. A former Johnson aide who was fascinated by his boss’s isolation during his administration here analyzes how the presidency has become an elective monarchy — and a bad one, surrounded by hundreds of people who shield their king from criticism, and make the imponderable ship of state even harder to move from its course. Crucially, the problem is now structural: it doesn’t matter who is elected, because the same problems have afflicted nearly every man since Hoover.
3. This Brave New World: India, China, and the United States; Anja Manuel. This book both reviews the political. cultural, and economic evolution of 21st century India and China, as well as argues for a prudent American relationship with both (rather than favoring one against the other).
4. Fear no Evil,
Natan Sharansky. A Jewish Russian is picked up for his political activism — arguing for easier emigration of Jews from Russia to Israel — and fights back against the gulag’s psychological warfare. An incredible story of a man who kept his integrity in unimaginably difficult circumstances.
5. How To Destroy the Imagination of Your Child
, Anthony Esolen. This is a tongue in cheek “appraisal” of modern mass culture, and how destructive it is to a humane life and humanistic education. Esolen abandons the farcial praise in his sequel, Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child
On its face, Redshirts is a fantastic parody of Star Trek, more serious than Galaxy Quest but definitely fun. Those codas at the end, however, turned it into a moving story. I listened to the Wil Wheaton Audible presentation.
9. The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China,
David Eimer. A tour of the outer rim of China, covering steppes, mountains, jungles, deserts, and tundra, and mixing stories of China’s revolutions with those of smaller people carried along in China’s wake…from Tibetans to Russians. Great variety here in terms of the topics discussed — religion, narco states, Russian architecture…
10. The Gulag Archipelago,
Aleksander Solzhenitsyn. This one is cheating a bit, since I’m not yet done with the third volume, but it would have merited inclusion here just based on the first volume.
Dave Eggers. Google eats facebook and Apple and goes evil. Comedy meets..er, 1984.
The Fellowship, Literary Lives of the Inklings, Philip and Carol Zaleski. A four-part biography on C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams. I still haven’t finished a review for this, and frankly — need to re-read it, because the first time around I largely focused on Lewis and Tolkien.
, Russell Kirk. This collection of short stories features ghostly characters who often don’t know they’re caught in the veil between the living and the dead — and neither does the reader, very often.