Richard Feynman’s Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

Richard Feynman was America’s best-known theoretical physicist, a Nobel laureate and, according to a 1999 poll of 100 of the world’s most highly esteemed scientists, one of the ten greatest physicists to ever live. It is difficult to comprehend intellect […]

P.G. Wodehouse’s The Inimitable Jeeves

Wodehouse’s The Inimitable Jeeves, less a novel than a group of chronologically-linked short stories cobbled together into a coherent whole, is the third Wodehouse work I have read thus far, and the final in my particular compendium of Wodehouse’s “Jeeves stories.” […]

Zadie Smith’s Changing My Mind

I am embarrassingly late to the works of Zadie Smith, having associated her with a younger generation of writers the literati seemed overly eager to promote. But then I read her essay on Kafka for the New York Review of Books, […]

Lawrence Krauss’ A Universe From Nothing

Nothing induces humility quite like grappling with theoretical physics. Richard Dawkins and some of his contemporaries in the fields of biology and evolutionary psychology posit that our brains evolved to contemplate numbers on a much smaller scale than is required for […]

Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve

Stephen Greenblatt is a professor of literature at Harvard University, bestselling author of the fictionalized biography of Shakespeare Will in the World, and one of the founders of New Historicism – something for which I have yet to forgive him. But […]

Plato’s The Last Days of Socrates

In the darker days of my youth, when every aspect of life was infused with undue urgency, I found consolation in a quotation from Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” It became a kind of personal mantra, something […]

Franz Kafka’s The Trial

George Steiner, at 83 still one of our best literary critics, articulates my primary difficulty in writing this post in the very first sentence of his Introduction: “The thought that there is anything fresh to be said of Franz Kafka’s The […]

P.G. Wodehouse’s The Code of the Woosters

It is to Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens – my beloved British triumvirate – that I owe my newfound love of P.G. Wodehouse. The Code of the Woosters, published in late 1938 mere months before the beginning of World […]

Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein

This is my first (long overdue) foray into Bellow’s works, and as such is something of an odd starting point: Ravelstein is less a work of fiction than a memoir, a small glimpse into Bellow’s friendship with renowned scholar and philosopher Allan […]

Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel

A quick glance at Jared Diamond’s fields of expertise will give you some idea of what you are in store for when you read him: physiology, biology, ornithology, environmentalism, history, ecology, geography and anthropology. And a good thing, too, that his […]