This was an odd year of reading for me. I don’t recall ever starting so many books that I didn’t finish. Dozens got left by the wayside.
Born in Blackness by Howard French
Born in Blackness illuminates the central role that Africa and Africans have played in creating modernity. It is deeply thought provoking and is, simply, one of the most important books I’ve ever read.
I interviewed Howard about it in on the Portico Podcast.
The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson
Absolutely delightful novel that follows the trials and tribulations of the Viking Red Orm.
It’s so, so good … the diversion you’ve been seeking.
The Ancient City by Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges
Fascinating book that explores the role of the domestic cult in the classical world. Rich with insight and food for thought.
To me, the most interesting through line was how shifts in human values and perceptions drive political change.
I shared some thoughts on Farcaster on this, but I found the emergence of Stoicism and Christianity to be the most intriguing parts of the book. Why? They’re the primitives for genuine liberty (as moderns conceive it).
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
Arresting novel about Australian POWs, the brutality they endured at the hands of the Japanese whilst constructing a railway in Burma, and the long tail of trauma, among other things.
Inspired by the author’s father who was a POW in similar circumstances. 2014 winner of the Man Booker Prize.
Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère
Hard to describe this book, but it somehow taps the main vein of several storylines that have transpired over the last few decades. As always, Carrère is a masterful storyteller.
Picked this up after seeing Limonov in Adam Curtis’s six-part documentary “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.”