• Seeing Like A State by James C. Scott.

I just had to reproduce the cover below. It’s a picture of a road that is simultaneously supposed to be straight and run across a line of constant latitude. It’s very representative of the theme of the book: states trying to achieve certain narrow goals and getting unexpected results.

  • Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve by Benn Blatt.

Blatt quantifies several famous authors’s quirks. George RR Martin likes to describe things as “black as pitch”; women authors use the words pillows, lace, curls, dress, china, skirt, and curtains more often than men; the word most indicative of a British as opposed to an American writer is wanked.

  • Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell.

Orwell’s memoir of his time fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Funnier than you would expect.