A highlight of the year for me was Genese Grill’s wonderful collection of essays, Portals. Grill’s work translating and writing about Robert Musil has long been a source of great insight and inspiration for me, and her uncompromising thoughts on the purpose and function of art come as solace in these times. As do Noga Arikha’s historically-informed look at mental decline and Rens Bod’s ambitious theory of patterns in knowledge-seeking (which is admirably available free).

World of Patterns: A Global History of Knowledge
Bod, Rens (Author), Buell, Leston (Translator)
Johns Hopkins University Press

The Orphic Voice: Poetry and Natural History (New York Review Books Classics)
Sewell, Elizabeth (Author), Schenck, David (Introduction)
NYRB Classics

Inventing the Alphabet: The Origins of Letters from Antiquity to the Present
Drucker, Johanna (Author)
University of Chicago Press

Ming Dynasty Tales: A Guided Reader
Mair, Victor H. (Editor)
Bloomsbury Academic

The Lost Republic: Cicero's De oratore and De re publica
Zetzel, James E. G. (Author)
Oxford University Press