ron rothman.ron rothman
selectively conformist

Reading Room

Need something to read? Here are our picks–and unpicks. (Also see our book-related blog entries.)

Now Reading…

  • How to Tell the Liars from the Statisticians, Robert Hooke
  • How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life, Thomas Gilovich

On Deck / Recommended by Others

  • The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, Robert A. Caro
  • The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation, David Kamp
  • Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris
  • Everything You Know About God Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion, Richard Dawkins
  • The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, Richard Dawkins
  • Collapse, Jared Diamond
  • Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education, Michael Pollan
  • The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World, Michael Pollan
  • Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change, Elizabeth Kolbert
  • The Rest is Noise, Alex Ross
  • Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Oliver Sacks
  • The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, Barry Schwartz
  • The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering, Michael J. Sandel
  • More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics, Steven E. Landsburg
  • The Septembers of Shiraz, Dalia Sofer
  • The Forgetting, David Schenk
  • Showdown with Nuclear Iran: Radical Islam’s Messianic Mission to Destroy Israel and Cripple the United States, Jerome Corsi
  • A Brief History of Everything, Ken Wilber
  • The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs
  • Republic, Plato
  • Cities and the Wealth of Nations, Jane Jacobs
  • The Complete Works of Isaac Babel, Isaac Babel
  • The Great Bridge, David McCullough
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin
  • E. L.: The Bread Box Papers, Helen Hartman Gemmill
  • Who Wrote the Bible?, Richard E. Friedman
  • Selected Poetry of Ogden Nash, Ogden Nash
  • The Classic Slave Narratives, Frederick Douglass
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A New Verse Translation, Simon Armitage
  • Fire in the Sky, Amos Amir
  • Starbucked, Taylor Clark
  • A Secular Age, Charles Taylor
  • Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
  • History of the Persian Empire, A. T. Olmstead
  • The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran, Robin Wright
  • Kiss My Left Behind, Earl Lee
  • The Life and Times of the Last Kid Picked, David Benjamin
  • A Winter’s Tale, Cassie Brown
  • Carry the Wind, Terry C. Johnston
  • Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice, Mark Plotkin
  • Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson

Keepers (you’ll want to buy them in hardcover and recommend them to your friends)

  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan
  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin
  • The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, Henci Goer
  • The Case for Israel, Alan Dershowitz

Highly Recommended

  • In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Michael Pollan
  • The Foreigner, Larry Shue (better to see it, though)
  • Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser
  • Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design, Michael Shermer
  • Flatland, Edwin A. Abbott
  • The First American, H. W. Brands
  • Joel on Software, Joel Spolsky
  • High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
  • The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
  • Biblical Literacy, Joseph Telushkin
  • Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, Stephen King
  • Talking Music, William Duckworth
  • Life of Pi, Yann Martel
  • The Alchemist, Paulo Cuelho
  • The Fabric of the Cosmos, Brian Greene
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J. K. Rowling
  • The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene
  • The Iliad of Homer
  • The Odyssey of Homer
  • Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand


  • Cambodia: Report from a Stricken Land, Henry Kamm
  • The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Guy Talese
  • Six Bridges: The Legacy of Othmar H. Ammann, Darl Rastorfer
  • Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, Michael Lewis
  • The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, Peter Singer and Jim Mason
  • The Plot Against America, Philip Roth
  • The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi
  • Geometry, Relativity, and the Fourth Dimension, Rudolf V. B. Rucker
  • The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum
  • The Bourne Supremacy, Robert Ludlum
  • Train to Pakistan, Kushwant Singh
  • The Inscrutable Americans, Anurag Mathur
  • The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  • Food Politics, Marion Nestle
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach, Douglas Hofstadter
  • Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain
  • Siddartha, Herman Hesse
  • Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
  • The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
  • The Chosen, Chaim Potok
  • Foundation, Isaac Asimov
  • Foundation and Empire, Isaac Asimov
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J. K. Rowling
  • Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, Tom Demarco
  • The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen
  • Anthem, Ayn Rand
  • The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
  • Second Foundation, Isaac Asimov
  • Why I Am Not a Christian (And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects), Bertrand Russell

Somewhat Recommended

  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J. K. Rowling
  • Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
  • The Wild Lawn Handbook: Alternatives to the Traditional Front Lawn, Stevie Daniels
  • Food Politics, Marion Nestle
  • And the Sea Will Tell, Vincent Bugliosi

No Strong Opinion

  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Sijie
  • See It & Say It in French, Margarita Madrigal and Colette Dulac

Not Recommended (don’t say we didn’t warn you)

  • Boston’s Gun Bible, Boston T. Party
  • The Paris Option, Robert Ludlum and Gayle Lynds

Wastes of Time (we mean it)