Friday, January 1, 2010

Reading List: December 2009

I've lost pretty much all interest in reading fiction. No, scratch that, I am still interested in a few things, but in practice I seem to be bored and unable to read more than a dozen pages at a stretch. This is quite uncommon for me, but I suppose its cyclical and eventually I'll get bored with foreign policy and economics and go back to it. Likely, the lack of interest is due to being out of school, with its constant grind of academic reading, and being used to internalizing information like that as opposed to casual fun reading. The habit is hard to break.

This month's pick is The Age of the Unthinkable by Joshua Cooper Ramo, which highlights the flaws in modern thinking about politics and the economy, trying to shift the paradigm of actors from believing they can act as architects in a system they can control (which doesn't work, obviously) to understanding that such things are more of an ecosystem, with all sorts of actors responding differently to events and to each other, creating an environment that can at best be managed. It's not so much that Ramo offers up any solutions, but rather this change in thinking will allow us to succeed where we are failing horribly now.

SuperFreakonomics was good, though lacked the cohesion of the first book. And the main criticism, that the chapter on the environment, should be faulted more for straying from interesting microeconomics than for lax science. The new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book was pretty bad as well. But Kazu Kibuishi's Flight anthologies were entertaining and demonstrate what some of the best new comic artists can produce, though the stories were a bit light on the unorthodox construction that I enjoy so much.

Anyway, last month I finished eight books and four graphic novels, and this is what they were:
  • And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer
  • The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History by John Ortved
  • Three Nights in August by Buzz Bissinger
  • The Great Movies II by Roger Ebert
  • The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman
  • What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Age of the Unthinkable by Joshua Cooper Ramo
  • Green Lantern Corps: Ring Quest by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
  • SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
  • Flight, Volumes 1 & 2 edited by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Let it Be by Steve Matteo
Right now I am reading David Plouffe's account of the Obama presidential campaign and Vali Nasr's book on the rising Islamic middle class. Maybe I'll squeeze a novel in before too long.

Questions, comments, random unrelated notes that entertain, etc.

1 comment:

Steve said...

I love to skim the Flight anthologies in the bookstore-- they simply look gorgeous. Some of the webcomic artists I read have placed in them, too. Someday I'll pick some up. Maybe these would be a good thing to ILL at some point...