Books published by Penguin

Gravity’s Rainbow

Thomas Pynchon

Pynchon’s famously difficult masterpiece. I destroyed three copies in a (failed) effort to grasp it completely.

Omnivore’s Dilemma

Michael Pollan

Worth the hype, not because of the widely-hailed subject matter but because of the extraordinary writing.

Collected Fictions

Jorge Luis Borges

Short, surreal little tales that experiment with the form of the story and often take the library as their subject.

A History of Reading

Alberto Manguel

Manguel’s lifelong dedication to reading plays itself out in a work that follows reading from clay tablets to present day.

Nudge

Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler

A compelling little book arguing for “libertarian paternalism,” a doctrine that nudges people towards the decisions most likely to improve their lives, while maintaining their freedom to do as they choose.

Here Comes Everybody

Clay Shirky

Shirky’s popular book discusses the evolution of group collaboration in the age of social media, and, conversely, the increasing irrelevance of institutions.

Ways of Seeing

John Berger

Based on the BBC documentary, Berger begins with a retelling of Walter Benjamin’s Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and concludes with a brilliant analysis of modern day advertising and its roots in Renaissance-era oil painting.

Standard Operating Procedure

Philip Gourevitch & Errol Morris

The book companion to Errol Morris’ movie of the same name. Where Morris tells the story with video and photography, Gourevitch communicates with words alone.

Food Rules

Michael Pollan

This little book from everyone’s favorite omnivore deftly defines a series of simple rules to eat by, expanding on his mantra from In Defense of Food: eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Days of Reading

Marcel Proust

Proust’s meditations on reading, and the gifts that writers leave their readers. Best read slowly.

Cognitive Surplus

Clay Shirky

In this follow-up to Here Comes Everybody, Shirky argues that we’re evolving from passive consumers of Seinfeld to creative makers of everything from lolcats to open source software to real-time news reporting.

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).