1. David Thomson, A Light in the Dark: A History of Movie Directors. One of the best attempts to make the auteur notion intelligible to the modern viewer, he surveys major directors such as Welles, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Godard and others. Stephen Frears is the dark horse pick, and he recommends the Netflix show Ozark. I always find Thomson worth reading.
2. Wenfei Tong, Bird Love: The Family Life of Birds. Now this is a great book, wonderful photos, superb analytics and bottom-line approach throughout. By the way, “Superb fairywrens are particularly adept at avoiding incest.”
3. William Deresiewicz, The Death of the Artist: How Creators are Struggling to Survive in the Age of Billionaires and Big Tech. Ignore the subtitle (which itself illustrates a theme of the book), this is the best book on the economics of the arts — circa 2021 — in a long time. “The good news is, you can do it yourself. The bad news is, you have to.” Every aspiring internet creator, whether “artist” or not, should read this book. If you don’t think of your career itself as a creative product — bye-bye!
I very much enjoyed Richard Thompson (with Scott Timberg), Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice, 1967-1975, still smarter than the competition and you don’t even have to know much about Thompson.
Dorothy Sue Cobble, For the Many: American Feminists and the Global Fight for Democratic Equality is a serious and thorough yet readable account of what the title promises, with a minimum of mood affiliation.
Joanne Meyerowitz, A War on Global Poverty: The Lost Promise of Redistribution and the Rise of Microcredit. A history of antipoverty efforts, with an emphasis on the shift toward “enterprise” in the 1980s, with the microcredit treatment being mostly pre-Yunus.
Mathilde Fasting has edited After the End of History: Conversations with Frank Fukuyama.
Julian Baggini’s The Great Guide: What David Hume Can Teach Us about Being Human and Living Well is not written for me, but it is a lively and useful introduction to one of humanity’s greatest minds.
Don’t forget Deirdre Nansen McCloskey, Bettering Humanomics: A New, and Old, Approach to Economic Science.
Arrived in my pile there is William D. Nordhaus, The Spirit of Green: The Economics of Collisions and Contagions in a Crowded World, and in September Adam Tooze is publishing Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy, and also for September there is Gregg Easterbrook’s Blue Age: How the US Navy Created Global Prosperity — And Why We’re in Danger of Losing It.
Have you noticed there are lots of books coming out now? How many were held over from the pandemic?