What I've been reading
1. Tino Balio, The Foreign Film Renaissance on American Screens, 1946-1973. One of the best pieces of U.S. cultural history I've read in years. This book explains and recreates the time when foreign films were culturally central in the United States. Here is a recent article on how we are consuming foreign films today; we're in a new renaissance of production, but few people seem to know the films themselves.
2. Darin Strauss, Half a Life. The author, as a young man, runs over a young girl on her bike and it ruins much, but not all, of his life. It wasn't his fault. This tract was well done enough to hold my interest, but I'm not sure how much it goes beyond the summary I offer right here. Nominated for a National Book award.
3. Martin Gilman, No Precedent, No Plan: Inside Russia's 1998 Default. This is not the definitive study it could have been, but it is a start toward writing a serious economic history of a still-neglected period.
4. Jeffrey Friedman, editor, What Caused the Financial Crisis. Of all the books on the crisis, this one is arguably the most conceptual. The authors of the essays include Stiglitz, John Taylor, Acemoglu, and Richard Posner.
5. New readings on the Euro include Paul Krugman's essay, Philipp Bagus, The Tragedy of the Euro, and Matthew Lynn, Bust: Greece, the Euro, and the Sovereign Debt Crisis.
6. Richard B. McKenzie, Predictably Rational: In Search of Defenses for Rational Behavior in Economics. The subtitle says it all, and the cover inverts the colors on the Dan Ariely book. Here is a short McKenzie piece on the book and here is Mario Rizzo on the book.