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David Auerbach on literature, tech, film, etc.

Tag: books of the year (page 1 of 2)

David Auerbach’s Books of the Year 2020

In this chaotic, surreal, and trying year, books as always provided a source of steadiness and continuity, when there was enough time and space to give them full attention.

My two books of the year are both superior anthologies suffused with the editor/translators’ love and reverence for their authors–inspiring feats in themselves. The third volume of Musil translated by Genese Grill and published by Contra Mundum is a massive and masterful anthology of Musil’s plays and theater writings, the most substantial new Musil volume in years, expertly rendered and annotated. Hannes Bajohr, Florian Fuchs, and Joe Paul Kroll collectively perform an even greater feat in drawing together Blumenberg’s essays across the breadth of his career and finally producing an approachable entry point to his work in English. The introductions to both volumes are superb. The works are old, but Grill, Bajohr, Fuchs, and Kroll are their animating spirits today.

The same goes for Steve G. Lofts’s new translation of Ernst Cassirer’s Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, a massive undertaking of an underappreciated work by an underappreciated philosopher, the third Davos participant who saw more widely than Carnap and more humanely than Heidegger. A more affordable edition is warranted. And the long-awaited reissue of Klibansky, Panofsky, and Saxl’s Saturn and Melancholy, done with immense care and comprehensiveness, is a model example of cultural history at a level of depth and intimacy that has always been rare, and is perhaps becoming rarer.

Fantagraphics’s reissues of Alberto Breccia’s stunning work also deserve more attention. I read part of Perramus when Fantagraphics issued it 30 years ago and was blown away by Breccia’s singular style; its’ good to have the whole thing finally. His version of The Eternaut is also remarkable.

I hesitate to mention too many other books for fear of neglecting the others, but I will say that of the science and technology books, several deal with subjects that are currently inundated with popularizations. In my eye, those below are notably superior to the rest of their crowd, though the marketplace of ideas has apparently and frustratingly failed to raise these books above their brethren. To a lesser extent, the same applies to history and politics.

Jacob Burckhardt said that the 20th century would be the age of oversimplification. The 21st has so far been the age of increasingly desperate and defensive oversimplification, across all domains of knowledge. Here’s to the fight against it.

(Final note: for an anthology of short plague-related stories, please check out my little project The Enneadecameron, featuring worthy tales by John Crowley, Irina Dumitrescu, Genese Grill, Alta Ifland, and many more.)

BOOKS OF THE YEAR

Theater Symptoms: Plays and Writings on Drama
Musil, Robert (Author), Grill, Genese (Translator), Grill, Genese (Introduction)
Contra Mundum Press


History, Metaphors, Fables: A Hans Blumenberg Reader (signale|TRANSFER: German Thought in Translation)
Blumenberg, Hans (Author), Bajohr, Hannes (Translator), Fuchs, Florian (Translator), Kroll, Joe Paul (Translator)
Cornell University Press

LITERATURE

Eros, Unbroken
Kim, Annie (Author)
Word Works


The Long White Cloud of Unknowing
Samuels, Lisa (Author)
Chax Press


The Bern Book: A Record of a Voyage of the Mind (American Literature)
Carter, Vincent O. (Author), McCarthy, Jesse (Introduction)
Dalkey Archive Press


Peach Blossom Paradise (New York Review Books Classics)
Fei, Ge (Author), Morse, Canaan (Translator)
NYRB Classics


Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk: Selected Stories of Nikolai Leskov (New York Review Books Classics)
Leskov, Nikolai (Author), Chandler, Robert (Translator), Rayfield, Donald (Translator), Edgerton, William (Translator), Rayfield, Donald (Introduction)
NYRB Classics


Alexandria: A Novel
Kingsnorth, Paul (Author)
Graywolf Press


Impostures (Library of Arabic Literature, 65)
al-Ḥarīrī (Author), Cooperson, Michael (Translator), Kilito, Abdelfattah (Foreword)
NYU Press


Rogomelec (The Envelope-silence)
Fini, Leonor (Author), Skwersky, Serena Shanken (Translator), Kulik, William T. (Translator), Eburne, Jonathan P. (Introduction)
Wakefield Press


Meaning a Life: an Autobiography
Oppen, Mary (Author), Yang, Jeffrey (Introduction)
New Directions


The Lost Writings
Kafka, Franz (Author), Stach, Reiner (Editor), Hofmann, Michael (Translator)
New Directions


Collected Stories
Hazzard, Shirley (Author), Olubas, Brigitta (Editor), Heller, Zoë (Foreword)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux


Surviving: Stories, Essays, Interviews (New York Review Books Classics)
Green, Henry (Author), Yorke, Matthew (Editor), Updike, John (Introduction), Yorke, Sebastian (Afterword)
NYRB Classics



Lame Fate | Ugly Swans (Rediscovered Classics)
Strugatsky, Arkady (Author), Strugatsky, Boris (Author), Strugatsky, Boris (Author), Vinokour, Maya (Author)
Chicago Review Press


The Third Walpurgis Night: The Complete Text (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)
Kraus, Karl (Author), Bridgham, Fred (Translator), Timms, Edward (Translator), Perloff, Marjorie (Foreword)
Yale University Press


Death in Her Hands: A Novel
Moshfegh, Ottessa (Author)
Penguin Press


I Live in the Slums: Stories (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)
Can Xue (Author), Gernant, Karen (Translator), Chen, Zeping (Translator)
Yale University Press


Other Moons: Vietnamese Short Stories of the American War and Its Aftermath
Ha, Quan Manh (Translator), Babcock, Joseph (Translator)
Columbia University Press


Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow (Russian Library)
Radishchev, Alexander (Author), Reyfman, Irina (Translator), Kahn, Andrew (Translator)
Columbia University Press


A Lover's Discourse
Guo, Xiaolu (Author), Guo, Xiaolu (Author), Guo, Xiaolu (Author)
Grove Press


The Selected Poems of Tu Fu: Expanded and Newly Translated by David Hinton
Fu, Tu (Author), Hinton, David (Translator)
New Directions


Instantiation
Egan, Greg (Author)
Greg Egan


The Evidence
Priest, Christopher (Author)
Orion


Piranesi
Clarke, Susanna (Author)
Bloomsbury Publishing


Dispersion
Greg Egan (Author)
Subterranean


Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas: A Novel
de Assis, Joaquim Maria Machado (Author), Costa, Margaret Jull (Translator), Patterson, Robin (Translator)
Liveright

HUMANITIES

Saturn and Melancholy: Studies in the History of Natural Philosophy, Religion, and Art
Klibansky, Raymond (Author), Panofsky, Erwin (Author), Saxl, Fritz (Author), Despoix, Philippe (Editor), Leroux, Georges (Editor)
McGill-Queen's University Press


Michelangelo’s Design Principles, Particularly in Relation to Those of Raphael
Panofsky, Erwin (Author), Panofsky-Soergel, Gerda (Editor), Spooner, Joseph (Translator), Panofsky-Soergel, Gerda (Introduction)
Princeton University Press


The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, Volume 1: Language
Cassirer, Ernst (Author), Gordon, Peter E. (Foreword)
Routledge


The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, Volume 2: Mythical Thinking
Cassirer, Ernst (Author), Gordon, Peter E. (Foreword)
Routledge


The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, Volume 3: Phenomenology of Cognition
Cassirer, Ernst (Author), Gordon, Peter E. (Foreword)
Routledge


Inky Fingers: The Making of Books in Early Modern Europe
Grafton, Anthony (Author)
Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press



A Companion to Ancient Greek and Roman Music (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World)
Lynch, Tosca A. C. (Editor), Rocconi, Eleonora (Editor)
Wiley-Blackwell


Wisdom as a Way of Life: Theravāda Buddhism Reimagined
Collins, Steven (Author), McDaniel, Justin (Editor), Hallisey, Charles (Introduction)
Columbia University Press


Time in Ancient Stories of Origin
Walter, Anke (Author)
OUP Oxford


Anger: The Conflicted History of an Emotion (Vices and Virtues)
Rosenwein, Barbara H. (Author)
Yale University Press


Who Needs a World View?
Geuss, Raymond (Author)
Harvard University Press




Comparing the Literatures: Literary Studies in a Global Age
Damrosch, David (Author)
Princeton University Press


Classical Indian Philosophy: A history of philosophy without any gaps, Volume 5
Adamson, Peter (Author), Ganeri, Jonardon (Author)
Oxford University Press




Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers
Misak, Cheryl (Author)
Oxford University Press


Early Modern German Philosophy (1690-1750)
Dyck, Corey W. (Author)
Oxford University Press


Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture
Harvey, Eleanor Jones (Author), Sues, Hans-Dieter (Preface)
Princeton University Press




SCIENCE & TECH

The Light Ages: The Surprising Story of Medieval Science
Falk, Seb (Author)
W. W. Norton & Company


Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing
Brayne, Sarah (Author)
Oxford University Press


How the Brain Makes Decisions
Boraud, Thomas (Author)
Oxford University Press



The Phantom Pattern Problem: The Mirage of Big Data
Smith, Gary (Author), Cordes, Jay (Author)
Oxford University Press


Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind
Godfrey-Smith, Peter (Author)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Darwin's Psychology: The Theatre of Agency
Bradley, Ben (Author)
OUP Oxford


The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn
Richard W. Hamming (Author), Bret Victor (Foreword)
Stripe Press

HISTORY


Virtue Politics: Soulcraft and Statecraft in Renaissance Italy
Hankins, James (Author)
Harvard University Press


The Invention of China
Hayton, Bill (Author)
Yale University Press


China’s Good War: How World War II Is Shaping a New Nationalism
Mitter, Rana (Author)
Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press


Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe
Herrin, Judith (Author)
Princeton University Press




Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World
Schuman, Michael (Author)
PublicAffairs


Away from Chaos: The Middle East and the Challenge to the West
Kepel, Gilles (Author)
Columbia University Press



Illuminating History: A Retrospective of Seven Decades
Bailyn, Bernard (Author)
W. W. Norton & Company



Has China Won?: The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy
Mahbubani, Kishore (Author)
PublicAffairs


The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History
Mikaberidze, Alexander (Author)
Oxford University Press

SOCIAL SCIENCES

France before 1789: The Unraveling of an Absolutist Regime
Elster, Jon (Author)
Princeton University Press


The Blind Storyteller: How We Reason About Human Nature
Berent, Iris (Author)
Oxford University Press


What’s Wrong with Economics?: A Primer for the Perplexed
Skidelsky, Robert (Author)
Yale University Press

COMICS AND ART

The Eternaut 1969 (The Alberto Breccia Library)
Oesterheld, Héctor Germán (Author), Breccia, Alberto (Author)
Fantagraphics


Perramus: The City and Oblivion (The Alberto Breccia Library)
Breccia, Alberto (Author), Sasturain, Juan (Author), Mena, Erica (Translator)
Fantagraphics


The Sky is Blue with a Single Cloud
Tsurita, Kuniko (Author), Holmberg, Ryan (Translator)
Drawn and Quarterly


Nymph
Marzocchi, Leila (Author), Richards, Jaime (Translator)
Fantagraphics


Stay
Trondheim, Lewis (Author), Chevillard, Hubert (Artist)
Magnetic Press


Infinity 8 Vol.7: All for Nothing
Trondheim, Lewis (Author), Boulet (Author), Kennedy, Mike (Editor), Boulet (Artist)
Magnetic Press


Infinity 8 vol.8: Until the End
Trondheim, Lewis (Author), Killoffer (Artist)
Magnetic Press


Barnaby Volume Four
Johnson, Crockett (Author), Nel, Philip (Author), Robbins, Trina (Introduction)
Fantagraphics



Winter Warrior: A Vietnam Vet's Anti-War Odyssey
Gilbert, Eve (Author), Camil, Scott (Author)
Fantagraphics


The George Herriman Library: Krazy & Ignatz 1919-1921 (Krazy & Ignatz)
Herriman, George (Author), Blackbeard, Bill (Introduction)
Fantagraphics



The Daughters of Ys
Anderson, M. T. (Author), Rioux, Jo (Illustrator)
First Second


Philip Guston: A Life Spent Painting
Storr, Robert (Author)
Laurence King Publishing


Philip Guston Now
Cooper, Harry (Author), Godfrey, Mark (Author), Greene, Alison de Lima (Author), Nesin, Kate (Author), Guston, Philip (Artist), Fischli, Peter (Contributor), Hancock, Trenton Doyle (Contributor), Kentridge, William (Contributor), Dean, Tacita (Contributor), Ligon, Glenn (Contributor), Roberts, Jennifer (Contributor)
D.A.P./National Gallery of Art


Year of the Rabbit
Veasna, Tian (Author)
Drawn and Quarterly


The Phantom Twin
Brown, Lisa (Author)
First Second


Solutions and Other Problems
Brosh, Allie (Author)
Gallery Books


Stuck Rubber Baby 25th Anniversary Edition
Cruse, Howard (Author), Bechdel, Alison (Introduction)
First Second


Paying the Land
Sacco, Joe (Author)
Metropolitan Books


Albrecht Dürer
Metzger, Christof (Editor)
Prestel


Glass Town: The Imaginary World of the Brontës
Greenberg, Isabel (Author)
Harry N. Abrams


Anselm Kiefer in Conversation with Klaus Dermutz (The German List)
Kiefer, Anselm (Author), Dermutz, Klaus (Author), Lewis, Tess (Translator)
Seagull Books


Exploring the Invisible: Art, Science, and the Spiritual – Revised and Expanded Edition
Gamwell, Lynn (Author), Tyson, Neil deGrasse (Foreword)
Princeton University Press

Books of the Moment


The George Herriman Library: Krazy & Ignatz 1916-1918

Price: $25.07

27 used & new available from $16.95


Cane (Penguin Classics)

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42 used & new available from $5.99


Invisible Man

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241 used & new available from $1.87



Mojo Hand: An Orphic Tale

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2 used & new available from


Plan B

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6 used & new available from


Whoreson

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36 used & new available from $6.70


Hue and Cry: Stories (Art of the Story)

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33 used & new available from $4.77


Oreo (New Directions Paperbook)

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34 used & new available from $6.65



Bloodchild and Other Stories

Price: $12.99

45 used & new available from $8.34


Stuck Rubber Baby 25th Anniversary Edition

Price: $23.74

37 used & new available from $15.99


The Known World

Price: $15.99

112 used & new available from $1.88


Erasure: A Novel

Price: $15.74

55 used & new available from $6.76



David Auerbach’s Books of the Year 2018

To be a true reader or writer today is to exist primarily in a state of longing and loneliness (sehnsucht, in the German term), because the vast majority of one’s closest associates are dead. Over the course of the 20th century the world of letters separated rather violently from the world of consequence, and so loving writing as writing requires either myopic self-delusion or an absurd appreciation for the spiritual residue of artistic impact. I don’t have the former in me, so it is the latter that drives me.

A remarkable amount of excellent archival issues came out this year, particularly in fiction and literature. The two placed in the pole position are not necessarily more deserving than many others. Rather, I chose them because they seemed to be most resonant with this year, despite being written decades ago. Both are very unorthodox Cold War retrospectives, both vaguely “documentary”-like, and yet animated by almost opposite sensibilities.

Ironically, I found Anniversaries to be a gloomier tale than Kolyma Stories, in the same way that gray is a gloomier color than black, or Faith is more enervating than Closer. Likewise, Johnson’s self-appearance in Anniversaries is more despairing than Shalamov’s varied appearances in Kolyma, because there is a certain abdication of moral authority Johnson took on in writing Anniversaries that is either disingenuous or terrifying. I think it’s the latter.

Continue reading

David Auerbach’s Books of the Year 2017

While the world went mad this year, I retreated a bit and did more reading than I had in some time. I have seen the pendulum of public sentiment cycle from complacency to hysteria and back twice now, and I am more fatalistic than ever about such cycles having to take their course. (My description of Thomas Pynchon’s “decoherence events” applies just as well to the Trump presidency as it does to September 11, 2001.) Being part of the collective public discourse this year was unhealthier than in any time I have ever seen.

I believe all the titles below deserve attention. The top books have been chosen based on personal significance and relevance. Appiah’s As If is a plea for a cosmopolitan pluralism (of provisional viewpoints, not of truths) based on a reading of the great Hans Vaihinger. It is a theoretical work that has far more relevance to technology than it first appears, as I try to explain in my forthcoming Bitwise: A Life in Code. Földényi’s Melancholy is a Burton-inspired chronicle that bests a thousand other intellectual histories of its kind. It spoke to me of what it is to be the sort of person who feels the need and drive to read all these books in the first place, and of the intangible benefits I gain from them. And the purportedly final version of Tom Phillips’ A Humument is a thing of beauty, drastically different from its previous editions in many regards, and one of the deepest texts of our time, fifty years after its first publication.

The greatest novel I read this year was Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon, the right novel for the right moment, but not one published in 2017.

In an attempt to provide a bit more apparent order, I have created a few subcategories for nonfiction. These are quite approximate; some books could have easily gone under a different heading. They are there to break the lists down into more manageable chunks.

When it comes to books, my eyes are bigger than my…eyes. Books under “Of Interest” are there either because (1) they are too out of my areas of knowledge for me to feel comfortable recommending them, (2) I have sufficient reservations about their content but feel they are too significant to ignore, or (3) I just haven’t read enough of them. I would feel terrible not noting Slezkine’s The House of Government, but I did not have time to read most of its 1100 pages.

Be well, read much, take care.

BOOKS OF MY YEAR

As If: Idealization and Ideals

Price: $29.00

21 used & new available from $10.12

Melancholy (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)

Price: $31.90

26 used & new available from $23.43


A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel (Sixth)

Price: $29.95

22 used & new available from $19.26

 

LITERATURE

Into the Cyclorama

Price: $14.95

12 used & new available from $2.36


Symphony for Human Transport

Price: $17.00

7 used & new available from $17.00


The Golden Cockerel & Other Writings

Price: $13.29

28 used & new available from $2.92


Homesick for Another World: Stories

Price: $26.00

63 used & new available from $3.76


The World Goes On

Price: $14.59

24 used & new available from $4.99


The Manhattan Project

Price: $43.77

6 used & new available from $39.21


So Much Blue: A Novel

Price: $13.49

68 used & new available from $1.99


Katalin Street (New York Review Books Classics)

Price: $11.59

33 used & new available from $6.44


Beasts Head for Home: A Novel (Weatherhead Books on Asia)

Price: $26.00

33 used & new available from $12.07


Blackass: A Novel

Price: $16.00

65 used & new available from $1.96


The Essential Fictions

Price: $21.95

21 used & new available from $14.03

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr

Price: $20.91

36 used & new available from $5.50

Gap Gardening: Selected Poems

Price: $18.95

40 used & new available from $12.91


Judgment: A Novel (Northwestern World Classics)

Price: $18.95

29 used & new available from $2.78



Remains of Life: A Novel (Modern Chinese Literature from Taiwan)

Price: $22.41

32 used & new available from $2.02


I Was Trying to Describe What it Feels Like: New and Selected Stories

Price: $28.00

27 used & new available from $3.78

Nest in the Bones: Stories by Antonio Benedetto

Price: $18.00

28 used & new available from $3.48


Newcomers: Book One

Price: $18.00

31 used & new available from $2.50


Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China

Price: $14.90

40 used & new available from $5.79


Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life

Price: $9.68

24 used & new available from $5.88


Sisters of the Cross (Russian Library)

Price: $14.63

29 used & new available from $5.93


Frontier

Price: $12.63

17 used & new available from $6.86


The Construction of the Tower of Babel (WAKEFIELD PRESS)

Price: $14.95

26 used & new available from $9.58


The War Nerd Iliad

Price: $15.49

22 used & new available from $12.45


Drilling through Hard Boards: 133 Political Stories (The German List)

Price: $30.00

22 used & new available from $20.27



Balcony in the Forest (New York Review Book)

Price: $15.95

32 used & new available from $5.98


Go, Went, Gone

Price: $14.69

62 used & new available from $5.33



The Collected Poems of Li He (Calligrams)

Price: $22.95

17 used & new available from $11.49


Chinese Poetic Writing (Calligrams)

Price: $19.95

15 used & new available from $3.07


The Complete Old English Poems (The Middle Ages Series)

Price: $65.00

30 used & new available from $46.01


The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition

Price: $22.11

42 used & new available from $15.25

 

HUMANITIES

Melancholic Habits: Burton's Anatomy & the Mind Sciences

Price: $45.26

15 used & new available from $43.69



Dystopia: A Natural History

Price: $140.00

6 used & new available from $117.25


The Rift in The Lute: Attuning Poetry and Philosophy

Price: $86.32

14 used & new available from $45.98


David Jones

Price: $18.73

12 used & new available from

The Messages We Send: Social Signals and Storytelling

Price: $32.87

21 used & new available from $23.34

The Mind of the Book: Pictorial Title-Pages

Price: $45.95

16 used & new available from $39.91


Changing the Subject: Philosophy from Socrates to Adorno

Price: $29.95

25 used & new available from $13.42



Res Publica and the Roman Republic: 'Without Body or Form'

Price: $110.28

11 used & new available from $82.00


The Epic Distilled: Studies in the Composition of the Aeneid

Price: $63.67

23 used & new available from $63.05

I, Me, Mine: Back to Kant, and Back Again

Price: $47.95

9 used & new available from $47.95


Art and Myth of the Ancient Maya

Price: ---

1 used & new available from

Wilfrid Sellars and the Foundations of Normativity

Price: $76.95

1 used & new available from $76.95

The Subject of Experience

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1 used & new available from $15.65


The Emotions in Early Chinese Philosophy (Emotions of the Past)

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24 used & new available from $75.00

Hercules Segers: Painter, Etcher, A Catalogue Raisonn

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4 used & new available from

 

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst

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1 used & new available from $9.99



After Digital: Computation as Done by Brains and Machines

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6 used & new available from $31.93


The Lazy Universe: An Introduction to the Principle of Least Action

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27 used & new available from $35.70



 

THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

Prisoners of Reason: Game Theory and Neoliberal Political Economy

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Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion

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30 used & new available from $3.79



The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class

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58 used & new available from $3.99


Marx's Inferno: The Political Theory of Capital

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10 used & new available from $19.00


A Brief History of Economic Thought

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19 used & new available from $53.51


Paths to Fulfillment: Women's Search for Meaning and Identity

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The Timeliness of George Herbert Mead

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1 used & new available from $61.75


The Enigma of Reason

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Shame: A Brief History (History of Emotions)

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The Truth about Language: What It Is and Where It Came From

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33 used & new available from $7.96


 

HISTORY AND POLITICS


Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A.

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121 used & new available from $1.95


The Water Kingdom

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15 used & new available from $12.63


False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East

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The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America

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1 used & new available from $16.99


The Causes of War and the Spread of Peace: But Will War Rebound?

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A History of Judaism

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5 used & new available from



One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps

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51 used & new available from $3.13


The Habsburg Empire: A New History

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1 used & new available from $13.17


What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home

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59 used & new available from $1.94

The Transformation of American Liberalism

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20 used & new available from $40.00


Politics in the Roman Republic (Key Themes in Ancient History)

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11 used & new available from $50.40



Sold People: Traffickers and Family Life in North China

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19 used & new available from $48.45



Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror

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Classical Greek Oligarchy: A Political History

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Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928

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1 used & new available from $9.99


The Cold War: A World History

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COMICS

Poppies of Iraq

Price: $15.29

49 used & new available from $2.86


Satania

Price: $17.10

41 used & new available from $8.60


It Don't Come Easy

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25 used & new available from $12.19


The Green Hand and Other Stories

Price: $24.95

26 used & new available from $8.68


Voices in the Dark

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37 used & new available from $1.93


My Favorite Thing Is Monsters

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Pascin

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18 used & new available from $8.67


Beanworld Volume 4: Hoka Hoka Burb'l Burb'l

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34 used & new available from $4.09


The Interview

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40 used & new available from $2.66


Yvain: The Knight of the Lion

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70 used & new available from $0.99


Demon (4 Book Series)

Price: $51.96

1 used & new available from $51.96


Olympians: Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt (Olympians, 9)

Price: $9.59

53 used & new available from $2.96


The Customer is Always Wrong

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David Auerbach’s Books of the Year 2016

2016 was a year of chaos for me as it was for many others. This list is provisional rather than a source of eternal endorsements. No, I did not read all of Anwar Sheikh’s Capitalism, but what I did read seemed serious and substantive enough to make it worthy of mention. Despite the inconsistencies of John Hands’ Cosmosapiens, I find it makes enough points about the traps of scientific orthodoxy to make it a provocative and worthy read. And there are books like Alec Ash’s Wish Lanterns that I simply didn’t get to.

I chose three books above all others as those that helped me get the most distance and perspective from the immediate tumult. Each of them did so in a very different way. Goodstein’s Simmel study is one of the few serious philosophical studies of Simmel and a major work, dedicated to showing his obscured influence through the 20th century and placing him alongside Musil as an eerily prescient prophet. It made a suitable epilogue to my commentary on Simmel’s Philosophy of Money.

Trentmann’s Empire of Things is an absorbing attempt to apply Annales-style ecological analysis to modern history and particularly the process of consumer consumption. It crosses Braudel with Veblen, yet the result sometimes approaches Simmel in its portrait of the self-reinforcing drives of consumption. As a portrait of larger ecological processes guiding our world, it pulled me away from the enveloping yet wholly reactive world of news and politics.

And Krasznahorkai’s chronicle of his travels in China is also a provider of needed distance, walking the path he has charted out that weaves between order and chaos, familiar and foreign, human and inhuman, beauty and suffering, profound knowledge and profound ignorance. He mentions Hungarian revolutionary Sándor Petőfi’s poem “Freedom, Love,” written with Hungarian which in Fu Yin’s translation (the book claims Lu Xun, but I believe this is inaccurate) became one of the most well-known poems in Communist China. With that irony in mind, it seems fitting to quote it here.

Szabadság, szerelem!
E kettő kell nekem.
Szerelmemért föláldozom
Az életet, Szabadságért föláldozom Szerelmemet.

Liberty and love
These two I must have.
For my love I’ll sacrifice
My life.
For liberty I’ll sacrifice
My love.

生命诚可贵,
爱情价更高。
若为自由故,
两者皆可抛。

 

Books of the Year

Destruction and Sorrow beneath the Heavens: Reportage (The Hungarian List)
Krasznahorkai, László (Author), Mulzet, Ottilie (Translator)
Seagull Books

Georg Simmel and the Disciplinary Imaginary
Goodstein, Elizabeth S. (Author)
Stanford University Press

Fiction

Between Dog and Wolf (Russian Library)
Sokolov, Sasha (Author), Boguslawski, Alexander (Translator)
Columbia University Press

Fragments of Lichtenberg (French Literature)
Senges, Pierre (Author), Flanders, Gregory (Translator)
Dalkey Archive Press

Bottom's Dream (German Literature)
Schmidt, Arno (Author), Woods, John E. (Translator)
Dalkey Archive Press

The Last Wolf & Herman
Krasznahorkai, László (Author), Batki, John (Translator), Szirtes, George (Translator)
New Directions

Zama (New York Review Books Classics)
Di Benedetto, Antonio (Author), Allen, Esther (Translator), Allen, Esther (Preface)
NYRB Classics

Bright Magic: Stories (New York Review Books Classics)
Doblin, Alfred (Author), Searls, Damion (Translator), Grass, Gunter (Introduction)
NYRB Classics

Iza's Ballad (New York Review Books Classics)
Szabo, Magda (Author), Szirtes, George (Translator), Szirtes, George (Introduction)
NYRB Classics

The Dispossessed: A Novel
Borbely, Szilard (Author)
Harper Perennial

Berlin-Hamlet (NYRB Poets)
Borbély, Szilárd (Author), Mulzet, Ottilie (Translator)
NYRB Poets

Loving (New York Review Books Classics)
Green, Henry (Author), Robinson, Roxana (Introduction)
NYRB Classics

Caught (New York Review Books Classics)
Green, Henry (Author), Wood, James (Introduction)
NYRB Classics

Back (New York Review Books Classics)
Green, Henry (Author), Eisenberg, Deborah (Introduction)
NYRB Classics

The Invisibility Cloak (New York Review Books Classics)
Fei, Ge (Author), Morse, Canaan (Translator)
NYRB Classics

The Gradual
Priest, Christopher (Author)
Titan Books

The Doomed City (Rediscovered Classics)
Strugatsky, Arkady (Author), Strugatsky, Boris (Author), Andrew, Bromfield (Author), Glukhovsky, Dmitry (Author), Glukhovsky, Dmitry (Foreword), Andrew, Bromfield (Translator)
Chicago Review Press

A Book to Burn and a Book to Keep (Hidden): Selected Writings (Translations from the Asian Classics)
Li, Zhi (Author), Handler-Spitz, Rivi (Editor), Lee, Pauline (Editor), Saussy, Haun (Editor)
Columbia University Press

The Lights of Pointe-Noire: A Memoir
Mabanckou, Alain (Author), Stevenson, Helen (Translator)
The New Press

We Need Silence to Find Out What We Think: Selected Essays
Hazzard, Shirley (Author), Olubas, Brigitta (Editor)
Columbia University Press

The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume 4, 1966–1989
Beckett, Samuel (Author), Craig, George (Editor), Fehsenfeld, Martha Dow (Editor), Gunn, Dan (Editor), Overbeck, Lois More (Editor)
Cambridge University Press

Soft City: The Lost Graphic Novel
Pushwagner, Hariton (Author), Ware, Chris (Introduction), Herbert, Martin (Afterword)
New York Review Comics

The One Hundred Nights of Hero: A Graphic Novel
Greenberg, Isabel (Author)
Little, Brown and Company

Pascin
Sfar, Joann (Author), Gauvin, Edward (Translator)
Uncivilized Books

Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir
Hart, Tom (Author)
St. Martin's Press

Mickey's Craziest Adventures (Mickey Mouse)
Trondheim, Lewis (Author), Keramidas, Nicolas (Artist)
IDW Publishing

Dungeon: Monstres – Vol. 6: The Great Animator
Sfar, Joann (Author), Trondheim, Lewis (Author), Stanislas (Author), Keramidas, Nicolas (Author)
NBM Publishing

 

Nonfiction

The Face of the Buddha
Empson, William (Author), Arrowsmith, Rupert (Editor)
Oxford University Press

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness
Godfrey-Smith, Peter (Author)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Deep Learning (Adaptive Computation and Machine Learning series)
Goodfellow, Ian (Author), Bengio, Yoshua (Author), Courville, Aaron (Author)
The MIT Press

Recollections: The French Revolution of 1848 and Its Aftermath
Tocqueville, Alexis de (Author), Zunz, Olivier (Editor), Goldhammer, Arthur (Translator)
University of Virginia Press

Ancient Worlds: A Global History of Antiquity
Scott, Michael (Author)
Basic Books

Memory and the Self: Phenomenology, Science and Autobiography
Rowlands, Mark (Author)
Oxford University Press

The Voynich Manuscript
Clemens, Raymond (Editor), Harkness, Deborah E. (Introduction)
Yale University Press

Wilfrid Sellars and the Foundations of Normativity
Olen, Peter (Author)
Palgrave Macmillan

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography
Gordon, Edmund (Author)
Chatto & Windus

China’s Crony Capitalism: The Dynamics of Regime Decay
Pei, Minxin (Author)
Harvard University Press

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Russell Hochschild, Arlie (Author)
The New Press

Europe since 1989: A History
Ther, Philipp (Author), Hughes-Kreutzmüller, Charlotte (Translator)
Princeton University Press

Weltschmerz: Pessimism in German Philosophy, 1860-1900
Beiser, Frederick C. (Author)
Oxford University Press

Rise of the Machines: A Cybernetic History
Rid, Thomas (Author)
W. W. Norton & Company

In the Darkroom
Faludi, Susan (Author)
Metropolitan Books

Toward Democracy: The Struggle for Self-Rule in European and American Thought
Kloppenberg, James T. (Author)
Oxford University Press

The Cultural Revolution: A People's History, 1962—1976
Dikötter, Frank (Author)
Bloomsbury Press

Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization
Milanovic, Branko (Author)
Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press

The Path: A New Way to Think About Everything
Puett, Michael,Gross-Loh, Christine (Author)
Viking

America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History
Bacevich, Andrew J. (Author)
Random House

Politics against Domination
Shapiro, Ian (Author)
Harvard University Press

The Poet's Voice in the Making of Mind
Meares, Russell (Author)
Routledge

Law in American History, Volume II: From Reconstruction Through the 1920s
White, G. Edward (Author)
Oxford University Press

Reality and Its Dreams
Geuss, Raymond (Author)
Harvard University Press

The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom
Stigler, Stephen M. (Author)
Harvard University Press

The Ways of the World
Harvey, David (Author)
Oxford University Press

Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion
Jacoby, Susan (Author)
Pantheon

Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crises
Shaikh, Anwar (Author)
Oxford University Press

Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government (Princeton Studies in Political Behavior, 1)
Achen, Christopher H. (Author), Bartels, Larry M. (Author)
Princeton University Press

Democracy: A Life
Cartledge, Paul (Author)
Oxford University Press

Individuality and Entanglement: The Moral and Material Bases of Social Life
Gintis, Herbert (Author)
Princeton University Press

The Cambridge History of Japanese Literature
Shirane, Haruo (Editor), Suzuki, Tomi (Editor), Lurie, David (Editor)
Cambridge University Press

Alchemist in Literature: From Dante to the Present
Ziolkowski, Theodore (Author)
Oxford University Press

All the Kremlin's Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin
Zygar, Mikhail (Author)
PublicAffairs

Medieval Europe
Wickham, Chris (Author)
Yale University Press

The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization
Baldwin, Richard (Author)
Harvard University Press

Experimental Music Since 1970
Gottschalk, Jennie (Author)
Bloomsbury Academic

Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s
Heller, Michael C. (Author)
University of California Press

Thought in Action: Expertise and the Conscious Mind
Montero, Barbara Gail (Author)
OUP Oxford

The Framers' Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution
Klarman, Michael J. (Author)
Oxford University Press

Bananaworld: Quantum Mechanics for Primates
Bub, Jeffrey (Author)
OUP Oxford

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
Harari, Yuval Noah (Author)
Harper

Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White
Tisserand, Michael (Author)
Harper

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