How to Live

Sarah Bakewell

Bakewell brilliantly extracts principles for living from Montaigne’s life and letters; this is a biography which is transparent about its purpose.

Men Explain Things to Me

Rebecca Solnit

The title is cheeky, the subject is not: Solnit’s explorations into the power structures that underlie violence against women, rape culture, marriage equality, and, yes—mansplaining—is both scathing and hopeful.

Waste time

On Madness, Rack, and Honey

“I never set out to write this book,” Mary Ruefle begins. And yet, she did write it, and that contradiction is the first of many.

Tigerman

Nick Harkaway

Harkaway’s fiction occupies an extraordinary space between evocative sci-fi dystopia and Hollywood action-adventure—in other words, it is completely irresistible.

Merchants of Doubt

Naomi Oreskes & Erik Conway

An important and infuriating book. The authors describe in detail the methods by which a few scientists successfully manipulated public opinion about tobacco, DDT, the ozone hole, global warming, and more.

Open City

Teju Cole

Teju Cole’s first novel is uneventful, but don’t let that deter you.

The Manual of Detection

Jedediah Berry

A playful novel, part Kafka, part Borges. Reminded me of Terry Gilliam’s films (in the best possible way).

Americanah

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie skewers racism and sexism in America in a story that is both affecting and hilarious.

Submergence

J.M. Ledgard

Escaping into Ledgard’s language is itself a kind of submergence—the book has a vaguely liquid quality as it moves between its characters and between the surface and the lower depths.

A genetic code

On The Sixth Extinction and Lilith’s Brood