I (Re-)Read Things: Beowulf to Buchanan

I’m cleaning out various “I write things” notes and stubs from my “drafts” folder and “WriteMe” list. These might not be recent reads.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary. I read this to my younger son last Fall. I’m not a Tolkien scholar or a Beowulf scholar, but this was a very interesting read in light of the place of both in the history of English letters. It had a bit of extra gravity, I thought, as it was a translation by someone who wrote a series of books that my friend Brad Birzer thinks will be read in a thousand years alongside the Iliad and the Odyssey.

David Allen, Getting Things Done. If I were banished to a desert island and told I could take one book on productivity and workplace performance, it would be this one. I first read it a few months before defending my dissertation in 2006 and have re-read it many times since. A close second is Jason and Jodi Womack, Get Momentum: How to Start When You’re Stuck (I first heard of GTD from a podcast featuring Jason).

Matt Perman, What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. “GTD with Jesus.” It’s the book I use in a student reading group I run for students who want to go to graduate school.

David Reisman, James Buchanan. This is part of Palgrave’s “Great Thinkers in Economics,” which means it’s a small print run and therefore very expensive. Thank God for interlibrary loan, however. I’m currently plowing through Buchanan biographies and analyses, and this is one of the best ones I’ve seen. It’s ranges over all of Buchanan’s ideas, and it is beautifully written.

Deirdre McCloskey, Historical Impromptus. This is a collection of book reviews and other short essays spanning McCloskey’s long career published by AIER. The Kindle edition is $5.

Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd. I’ve been reading a lot of Hardy lately; Buchanan and his mentor Frank Knight had a mutual affinity for his poetry. Wessex is an interesting place. If you have Prime, there’s a $0 edition for Kindle (and it’s probably not hard to find another $0 edition in any event).

Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge. I read this as a sophomore in HS and very little stuck with me. It’s a good read, and it’s especially interesting to reread it now as an economist. There’s about a jillion different editions.

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