“Black Earth” — Timothy Snyder — The best book on our current veer towards totalitarianism. “Blood & Soil” was no accident. Read this.
“The Seven Story Mountain” — Thomas Merton
“On Ugliness” — Umberto Eco
“History of Beauty” — Umberto Eco
“Serendipities: Language and Lunacy” — Umberto Eco
“Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History” — Margaret MacMillan
“Roumeli Travels in Northern Greece” — Patrick Leigh Fermor
“Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures, and Innovations” — Mary Beard
“Celia, A Slave” — Melton A. McLaurin — A moving and unique account of a young woman enslaved in Missouri, and her epic court fight.
“The Origins of Totalitarianism” — Hannah Arendt
“Stand Still Like the Hummingbird” — Henry Miller
“The Basement” — Kate Millett
WARNING: approach carefully.
Vol. I: The Ancient World — Susan Wise Bauer — Best history ever. A writer must know enough human history to be gobsmacked about how we were always this way.
Vol. II: The Medieval World — Susan Wise Bauer
Vol. III: The Renaissance World — Susan Wise Bauer
Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity — Rebecca Goldstein — “...a secularist challenge to religion that would be as radical as it was original.”
The Courtier and the Heretic: Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Fate of God — Matthew Stewart — Genius Leibniz denounced Spinoza in public, was privately obsessed. Reason vs Monads.
Guns, Germs, & Steel — Jared Diamond — .
“The Last of the Amazons” — Stephen Pressfield — sharp and infogettable storytelling, excellent research, vivid characters. Nitty-gritty.
“The Killer Angels” — Michael Shaara — extraordinary qualities of historical accuracy and luminous writing.
“Genghis: Birth of an Empire” — Conn Iggulden — more per page than most writers in any genre. Ripping yarns; tendon-flexing symphonies of lean storytelling. An instruction set for effective prose + Genghis! Mongolia/China/Persia!
“The Ptolemies” — Duncan Strott — odd, digressive, intimate, and languid. Hear the fat alligators splash in the temple pool.