Economist Tyler Cowen, who was named one of the top 100 influential thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine, offers some interesting picks:
- Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschmann.
- A History of Future Cities.
- Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief.
- Benjamin Britten: A Life for Music (and also Paul Kildea, Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century.)
- Confessions of a Sociopath.
- China’s War With Japan 1937-1945, the US edition has the sillier title Forgotten Ally.
- War from the Ground Up: Twenty-First Century Combat as Politics.
- Affordable Excellence: The Singapore Health System.
- New Museums in China. (Good text but mostly a picture book, stunning architecture, no art, full of lessons.)
- Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State.
- The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and our Gamble Over Earth’s Future.
- Margaret Thatcher: An Authorized Biography, from Grantham to the Falklands.
- From books “close at hand,” I very much liked John List and Uri Gneezy, Virginia Postrel on glamour, Lant Pritchett, The Rebirth of Education, and Tim Harford on macroeconomics.
- How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region.
- The Internal Enemy, Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832.
- Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years, volume I.
- Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House.
Nothing that caught your eye? Try his 2012 list.