As a reminder, books listed on a post titled "to read" are not books I have read but books whose listings I have come across and that sound interesting. Thus, they are "to read." In some instances, such as Freakonomics and The Killer Angels, they are books that friends have long since recommended to me and that I'm just listing yet again in the vain hope I might actually read them this time.
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt
The little idea that could. Dubner is a journalist who in 2003 wrote a New York Times Magazine profile of Levitt, a University of Chicago economist with unorthodox interests. That article became this bestseller, which then became a column in the magazine. What's so interesting about Freakonomics (besides the name)?Levitt creatively uses economicmethods to explain different outcomes in such varied areas as cheating, crime, and parenting. Revolutionary reading.1066: The Hidden Histoy in the Bayeux Tapestry by Andrew Bridgeford
The Bayeux Tapestry is a thin piece of linen, 70 meters long (nearly 230 feet) onto which is stitched a pictorial account of the Battle of Hastings, celebrating Norman invader William the Conqueror's defeat of British King Harold. Or is it? Bridgeford's intriguing hypothesis is that the tapestry was of English design and encoded with secret messages meant to undermine the Normans. It's history with a subversive, fascinating twist.Out of the Flames: The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, a Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in the World by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
Michael Servetus was burned at the stake in 1553. His heretical book, Christianity Restored, was so offensive to teh Catholic Church that all copies had to be hunted down and destroyed. But were they? The Goldstones, rare-book dealers (and husband and wife), have traced the fates of three copies that escaped the pyre. Their fascinating account of a free thinker and the consequences of dissent in a time of obedience is a testament to the potency of books as well as an entertaining pop-history read.Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter by Steven Johnson
Few books come with more provocative and seductive titles than Johnson's latest. A technology reporter, Johnson seeks to save pop culture's shoddy reputation. He reports, among other things, that certain video games have proven to raise IQ scores and reveals how television shows have had to become more sophisticated to meet viewers' expectations. It's a clever premise, artfully argued.Lost in Place: Growing Up Absurd in Suburbia by Mark Salzman
Were you once a boy? Are you raising one now? If you can answer yes to either of these questions, then please do not miss the opportunity to read Mark Salzman's memoir of his childhood. It's a wonderfully written, funny, and sharp look into the mind-set of a quirky and intelligent adolescent boy.The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
The Battle of Gettysburg was the most decisive of the American Civil War. Shaara took three days, July 1–3, 1863, and imagined how they might have unfolded for the key players in the battle. the result is his magnificent, Pulitzer Prize–winning novel that is better than any history text at conveying the drama, uncertainty, hope, and violence of war. It's an astonishing, inspiring tome.The Friendly Jane Austen by Natalie Tyler
A jaunty, fun book, essential for all Janites. A scrapbook of trivia about Jane, her family, her times, and her work. Includes lists of people who were born during the same decade (Beethoven, Wordsworth, Constable), appreciations from other acclaimed novelists, a recipe for syllabub, quizzes, and more. Think of this as the Austen Miscellany and prepare to lose many hours to pleasurable browsing.The Actor's Guide to Adultery by Rick Copp
"Wickedly amusing," raves Publishwers Weekly. Can former child star Jarrod Jarvis elude the stalker who has trailed him since his first oscar Mayer commercial and nab a murderer? Copp's second novel in The Actor's Guide series is as sunny and frothy as a day on the beach. Dive in.