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My favourite books 2018

Keeping up the tradition of the last two years, I’m again providing a list of 10 my favorite books this year.

In between finishing my dissertation, starting a new job and moving to a new city, I read less this year. I was worried that I would have almost no time for reading in my new job, but that hasn’t turned out to be the case. Plane rides, late nights in hotel rooms and the weekend still provide many moments to read.

So here are the books I liked most this year (but which were not necessary published this year) in reverse order:

  1. Prohibition: A Concise History”, by W. J. Rorabaugh. This book shows that alcohol has not always been socially acceptable.
  2. The Invisibility Cloak”, by Ge Fei. Cool and short story, set in Beijing.
  3. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in Silicon Valley”, by John Carreyrou. Hard to stop reading.
  4. Leonardo Da Vinci”, by Walter Isaacson. Get the print version, the book has beautiful visuals.
  5. Educated: A Memoir”, by Tara Westover. Very well written.
  6. Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror”, by Victor Sebestyen. A great way to learn about this slice of history.
  7. Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress”, by Steven Pinker. I tried hard to poke holes in his arguments.
  8. Steve Jobs”, by Walter Isaacson. It’s incredible how intimately Isaacson is covering his life. I also enjoy it as a history of the 90s and 00s, a time I lived through.
  9. The Story of Art”, by E.H. Gombrich. I love this book. This is how to write about art. (Here, too, get the print version.)
  10. The Internationalists”, by Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro. This builds on years of scholarship, but the authors explain concepts in an accessible manner. Which other book would discuss the ideas of Grotius, Carlo Schmitt and Sayidd Qutb? This is a book that has changed how I view the world. A piece of their conclusion:

    The example of the Internationalists offers a hopeful message: If law shapes real power, and ideas shape the law, then we control our fate. We can choose to recognize certain actions and not others. We can cooperate with those who follow the rules and outcast those who do not. And when the rules no longer work, we can change them.