Why Nations Fail. The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (2012)
by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson
This book analyses the role of institutions in the success and failure of states. It offers insights on how institutions come into being, how they change with time, and how sometimes they resist change. These questions couldn’t be more relevant in today’s times and they are directly related to Convoco’s 2020 topic – New Global Alliances: Institutions, Alignments and Legitimacy in the Contemporary World.
Love in the Time of Cholera (2004) by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, translated by Edith Grossman
In difficult times it is essential to lose yourself in a great story.
The Standing of Europe in the New Imperial World Order (2020) by Corinne M. Flick (ed.), translated by Philippa Hurd
A topic now more important than ever.
Middle England (2020) by Jonathan Coe
This third installment of a trilogy on England (1973-2018) was not planned by the author. It is a response to Brexit and an attempt to understand it. The first book is called ‘The Rotters Club”’ (2001) and focuses on the decline of England in the 1970s, in particular Birmingham, the car industry, and the trade unions. The protagonists are three adolescents. They reappear in the second book ‘The Closed Circle’ (2004) – now in their prime (or not) during the Tony Blair government – and in ‘Middle England’, now with adult children of their own. Sarcastic, humorous, sometimes angry, sometimes sentimental, the novel is a lively history lesson and is enlightening for non-Brits.
The Hunting Gun (1949) by Yasushi Inoue
The Lost Steps (2001) by Alejo Carpentier
Diritto del Commercio internazionale (2019) [soon to be published in English] by Alberto Mazzoni und Maria Chiara Malaguti
The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World (2018) by Peter Frankopan
Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present (2014) by Brendan Simms
The Man in the Red Coat (2019) by Julian Barnes
Anyone who feels at home in the world of Marcel Proust will devour this book about one of the most important French doctors of the Belle Époque. They´ll also learn much about politics, culture, and science in the latter years of the 19th century, and meet familiar personalities (such as Sarah Bernhardt and Oscar Wilde) and new faces in an impressionistic genre-picture of France (and also England).
Self Portrait with a Swarm of Bees (2014) by Jan Wagner, translated by Iain Galbraith
When, if not during the lockdown, is the time to read poems and get to know one of the most versatile and precise poets of our times? Jan Wagner takes us on imaginary journies through the world and to our inner selves.
The Habsburgs: The Rise and Fall of a World Power (2020) by Martyn Rady
Tracing the history of the dynasty from its origins in northern Switzerland at the end of the 10th century to its ousting from power at the beginning of the 20th, this book sheds light on the present almost as powerfully as it illuminates the past. It´s a masterpiece of profound scholarship presented with literary verve, lightness of touch, and a Sahara-desert-dry sense of humor.
Wagner’s Parsifal: The Music of Redemption (2020) by Sir Roger Scruton
I’m rejoicing in this encounter between the most musically informed of 20th-century British philosophers and the most philosophically informed of 19th-century German composers.
The Plague (1950) by Albert Camus
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman. Adventures of a Curious Character (1997) by Richard P. Feynman
Gold And Iron: Bismarck, Bleichroder, And the Building of the German Empire (1987) by Fritz Stern
Japan Story: In Search of a Nation, 1850 to the Present (2019) by Christopher Harding
This book traces Japan´s modern history from the so-called Meiji Restoration to today with a refreshingly new perspective. At its heart is the search for national identity, the power of narratives (those that are established, and those propagated as an alternative vision and which are much less known), and especially the critical views of people who defied the mainstream. In contrast to the often rather monolithic portrayal of Japan, this book offers the reader a chance to get to know Japan’s society and culture in all its colorful, rich, and lively facets.
44 Scotland Street (2005) by Alexander McCall Smith
With this first book of a long series, Alexander McCall Smith continues his funny and wholly entertaining story about the inhabitants of a block of flats in Edinburgh’s New Town. Initially conceived for the Scottish daily The Scotsman, the latest episodes of the story are now regularly compiled and published in book form. The author, a retired Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, describes the interactions between his characters with wit, subtlety and psychological empathy. His many little stories from everyday life – often exaggerated – seem to get to the core of real life, creating a lovable and readable collage.
We Are All Stardust: Scientists Who Shaped Our World Talk about Their Work, Their Lives, and What They Still Want to Know (2010) by Stefan Klein
Crowds and Power (1960) by Elias Canetti
Beautiful Days (1977) by Franz Innerhofer
The Leopard (2007) by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusai
Die Kraft der Demokratie: Eine Antwort auf die autoritären Reaktionäre (2020) [published in German] by Roger de Weck