Random Readings & Other Suggestions

Currently Reading…

Dan Egan, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes.

Mary Ann Carolan, The Transatlantic Gaze: Italian Cinema, American Film.

Andrea Wulf, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World.

Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art.

Bee Wilson, Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat.


  • Rory Stewart, The Places in Between (travel literature).
  • Trevor R. Getz and Liz Clark, Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History. 
  • Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard (travel literature, set in Nepal).
  • Norman Lewis, Naples ’44 (one of the best books I have ever read).
  • William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways: A Journey into America (travel literature).
  • Patrick Modiano, Missing Person (title in French: Rue des Boutiques Obscures, fiction).
  • V. S. Naipaul, A House for Mr. Biswas (fiction).
  • Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop (fiction).
  • William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham (fiction).
  • Gustave Doré, Doré’s Illustrations for Don Quixote.
  • Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast (memoir).
  • Adam Gopnik, Paris to the Moon (essays).
  • Dr. Seuss, Jennifer Morrish Tunberg, and Terence Tunberg, Cattus Petasatus: The Cat in the Hat in Latin.
  • Jack Prelutsky and Peter Sis, The Dragons are Singing Tonight (poetry for children).
  • Walter M. Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz (science fiction).
  • Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere (fantasy, set in London).
  • Michel Tournier, Le Roi des aulnes (title in English translation: The Ogre, fiction).
  • Walker Percy, The Moviegoer (fiction).
  • T. Coraghessan Boyle, Descent of Man (short stories).
  • Art Spiegelman, Maus (graphic novel, 2 vols.).
  • Ari Folman and David Polonsky, Waltz with Bashir (graphic novel).
  • Giuseppe di Lampedusa, Il gattopardo (The Leopard, fiction).
  • Knut Hamsun, Hunger (fiction).
  • Heinrich Böll, Wo warst du, Adam? (Where Were You, Adam? — fiction).
  • W. G. Sebald, Die Ringe des Saturn, Eine englische Wallfahrt (The Rings of Saturn, essays).
  • Camilo José Cela, Viaje a la Alcarria (Journey to the Alcarria: Travels through the Spanish Countryside, essays).
  • Mario Vargas Llosa, El Hablador (The Storyteller, fiction).
  • Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (fiction).
  • George Orwell, Burmese Days (fiction).
  • Patrick Hamilton, Hangover Square (fiction).
  • Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia (fiction).
  • Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe (poetry; find the verse translation by Ronald Melville, Oxford World’s Classics).
  • R. S. Thomas, Collected Poems, 1945-1990.


  • Simon Price and Peter Thonemann, The Birth of Classical Europe: A History from Troy to Augustine.
  • Gordon Leff, Medieval Thought from St. Augustine to Ockham.
  • Jonathan Shay, Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character.
  • Nicholas Ostler, Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin.
  • Anthony Blunt, Art and Architecture in France, 1500-1700.
  • Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle.
  • Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance.
  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.
  • John G. Stoessinger, Why Nations Go To War.
  • John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America.
  • James Kakalio, The Physics of Superheroes.
  • Carlo Petrini, William McCuaig, and Alice Waters, Slow Food: The Case for Taste.
  • Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong, The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court.
  • Jeffrey Toobin, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court.
  • Michael Kammen, Visual Shock: A History of Art Controversies in American Culture.
  • E. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art.
  • William Barber, A History of Economic Thought.
  • Amartya Sen, Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation.
  • Carlo Levi, Cristo si é fermato á Eboli (Christ Stopped at Eboli).
  • Alain Corbin, The Foul and the Fragrant: Odor and the French Social Imagination.
  • E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class.
  • David Cannadine, The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy.
  • Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory.
  • David Titus, Palace and Politics in Prewar Japan.
  • William Sheridan Allen, The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town.
  • Michihiko Hachiya, Hiroshima Diary: The Diary of a Japanese Physician,
    August 6-September 30, 1945
  • Jane Kramer, Unsettling Europe.

Academic Reference Books

  • Jane Aaron, The Compact Handbook (Little Brown).
  • Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago).
  • M. Neil Browne and Stuart M. Keeley, Asking the Right Questions (Prentice-Hall), esp. Ch. 7.
  • J. I. Rodale, The Synonym Finder (Warner).
  • Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments (Hackett), esp. Ch. X.

Regular Reading

  • The Economist (Register online, and then Subscribe to the “Editor’s picks” and the “New on Economist.com” Newsletters).
  • FT Weekend/Financial Times Weekend Edition.
  • The Times Literary Supplement.
  • Gourmet (alas, no more).
  • The New York Times.
  • The Independent (London).
  • Le Monde (Paris).
  • Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich).
  • Die Zeit (Hamburg).
  • Corriere della Sera (Milan).
  • El País (Madrid).

Beyond Reading

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  • The New York Public Library.
  • The Met Opera, New York.
  • New York Classical Theatre.
  • MOMA (The Museum of Modern Art), New York.
  • Sunday Baroque (NPR), Fairfield, Connecticut.
  • Rare Book School (University of Virginia), Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • KUT/KUTX (NPR), Austin, Texas.
  • KMFA (Classical Radio), Austin, Texas.
  • KLRU (PBS), Austin, Texas.
  • The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas.
  • The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California.
  • The Getty Villa, Pacific Palisades, California.
  • Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • Museum of Anthropology (University of British Columbia), Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
  • Canadian Museum of History (Gatineau, Quebec) and the Canadian War Museum (Ottawa, Ontario).
  • The British Library, including the Treasures of the British Library (Permanent Exhibit), London, U.K.
  • Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Garden), Paris, France.
  • Museo Nazionale Etrusco (National Etruscan Museum), Rome, Italy.
  • Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Art Museum), Madrid, Spain.
  • Lenbachhaus (Art Museum), Munich, Germany.
  • Singapore Botanic Gardens.


Don Quixote de la Mancha (Cartoons for children, Spain, 1978-).

Russian Ark (Russia, 2002).

Departures (Japan, 2008).

Aftershock (China, 2010).

Winter’s Bone (U.S.A., 2010).

District 9 (South Africa, 2009).

Berlin Alexanderplatz (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, director, Germany, 1980).

Rabbit Proof Fence (Australia, 2002).

El Ángel exterminador (The Exterminating Angel, Luis Buñuel, director, Mexico, 1962).

Il gattopardo (The Leopard, Luchino Visconti, director, Italy, 1962).

Il giardino dei Fitzi-Contini (The Garden of the Fitzi-Contini, Vittorio de Sica, director, Italy, 1970).

Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Werner Herzog, director, Germany, 1972).

Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, director, U.S.S.R., 1972).

Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, director, U.S.S.R., 1966).

Die Brücke (The Bridge, Germany, 1959).

Les Quatre Cents coups (400 Blows, François Truffaut, director, France, 1959).

Gallipoli (Australia, 1981).

My Life as a Dog (Sweden, 1985).

Ploughman’s Lunch (U.K., 1983).

The Outlaw Josey Wales (U.S.A., 1976).