The Books of Summer
So, I do get some chances to read. Quite a few, in fact. The last five books I have read are kind of a mixed group, no theme I can think of. In alpha order of last name of author:
Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz, A MONETARY HISTORY OF THE US, 1867-1960, Princeton. I picked it up just to glance through it again, having read it years ago. But I found myself reading it closely. The history of the Great Depression, as opposed to the crap mythology of the Great Roosevelt pandered by Krugman, et al., is worth looking at again.
Hartmut Kliemt, PHILOSOPHY AND ECONOMICS I: METHODS AND MODELS, Oldenbourg-Verlag. Not a light summer read, but a very fine introduction to a lot of difficult literature. Dr. Kliemt is one of my favorite people, and this is quite a useful book. It is a nice companion, I think to Jerry Gaus's book from two years ago, ON PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS, AND ECONOMICS.
Paul Levinson, THE PLOT TO SAVE SOCRATES, Tor Books. A nice premise, one that I have actually always wondered about (and given to undergrads as an assignment): What if Crito had not been a fat drunk bozo? Wasn't there a way to save Socrates? Now, this book is about time travel, and raises some interesting questions about same. But if you are a fan of the classics, this might be a summer sci-fi bon-bon for you. Certainly not a timeless classic, however.
Simon Majumdar, EAT MY GLOBE, Free Press. "One Year to Go Everywhere and Eat Everything." This guy has exactly my sense of humor, and a real desire to eat strange things. And his stories of world travel in search of strange things to eat make mine seem tame and easy. Terrific book.
Mary Roach. BONK: THE CURIOUS COUPLING OF SCIENCE AND SEX. Norton. Mary is a great author, combining sextensive serious research* and the sense of humor of a 17 year old boy in a locker room. The details here are just the best. Consider this footnote, from p. 60:
"In 1998, a woman from Saline, Michigan received a patent for a Decorative Penile Wrap intended to "heighten sexual arousal of a male and female prior to intercourse." The patent includes three pages of drawings, including a penis wearing a ghost outfit, another in the robes of the Grim Reaper, and one dressed up to look like a snowman. I tried to call the examiner listed on the patent, Michael A. Brown, but he has left the US Patent and Trade Office. And who can blame him?"
For days after reading this, I could not stop myself from humming: "Penis, the Snowman, was a jolly happy soul. Thumpety thump thump. Thumpety thump thump." To be fair, there is also a lot of quite serious review of the history and meaning of sex research in the book, some of it remarkable, and some of it bordering on clearly insane.
LAGNIAPPE: I am about 1/3 of the way through rereading Paul Johnson's HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Opinionated, and pretty tough on a lot of established dear-to-the-left conceptions of the Founding. But full of terrific observations, large and small. One of the great things about being old is that you can reread a book, and it's like it is brand new. 'Cause I do not remember a lot of this, at all.
*This was actually a real typo. I just left it, because it amused me.