On Hamlet's Blackberry by William Powers

Powers joins the ranks of people who are critical of our ‘always-on’ connected world and calls for more people to take time away from our screens to talk to other people, both strangers and our families. I’m broadly sympathetic to the critique Powers makes but his insights are not original. There are many others who have been expressing the same concerns for much longer. This book was published in 2010 and takes most of its examples from newspaper and magazine stories.

On The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White

Brust and White tell the story of a small group of people who have been manipulating human history for millennia by gradually changing people’s plans and minds. The Incrementalists store their own memories in the Garden, like a memory palace which can be shared with others in the group. When an Incrementalists dies a new person is chosen to inherit the memories of the dead member. The plot of the book hinges around a rogue member who kills herself in order to force the group to do things the way she wants them done.

On Stoner by John Williams

A mid-century classic which is little known. William Stoner grows up a poor farmer’s son, he goes to college to study agriculture but becomes enamored with English literature and decides to stop farming and get a PhD. He spends his entire life at the University of Missouri as an English professor, he marries, has a child, has an affair, and fights with his boss. His marriage quickly becomes loveless as his wife fights to take control of his daughter’s life, ultimately destroying her personality.