My open reading list:
1) Merchant Soldier Sage, by David Priestland: an examination of history through a lens of caste struggle, as opposed to class struggle (with caste in this context meaning broad groups matching jobs, such as aristocracy or priesthood), in an effort to identify merchant caste values and how their unfettered proliferation in the past few decades led to the 2008 recession
2) Don Quixote, by Cervantes: it hasn't really hooked me yet so I'm not far into it, but it's amazing how modern it feels given that I think it was written in the late 1600's. In the first few chapters, you can very easily make comparisons between modern obsessive fandom and cosplay to the addled title character
3) Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, by Kevin Zraly: I'm a foodie (but lazy at cooking for myself), and I wanted to learn more about wine and its pairings, because although I enjoy it, it doesn't fit into my lifestyle very well (you should drink those bottles within a couple of days of opening them, but that's a lot of alcohol and calories for a bachelor, and the cost adds up, even having a single bottle a week). It's proven very thorough thus far.
4) Art History, Revised 2nd Edition, by Marilyn Stokstad: an art history textbook. Enormous door stopper of a book. Covers all the important bits of Western art yet also dips into regional art from around the world. I'm not very into art, but I'd like to know more about it so that I can recognize it better and having understanding of the pieces I do appreciate. This one is a bit of a long burn, it's really gargantuan and dry, I pick it up for a few hours every couple of weeks.
5) The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson: Dark fantasy from the 1950s, I think. Dad insisted I read it. Has a more mythic feel over being a straight up novel. Events tend to be narrated over quickly, while only important conversations have dialogue scenes.
6) Great Political Theories V.1: A Comprehensive Selection of the Crucial Ideas in Political Philosophy from the Greeks to the Enlightenment, by Michael Curtis: A selection of essays from great political theorists with accompanying commentary on the evolution of politics and the ideas of governance.
7) The Three Kingdoms, Moss Roberts translation: one of the Classical Novels of Chinese literature. This is the one about political maneuverings and great armies. I have an interest in Asian cultures.
8) Complete Works of Mark Twain: Have this one on Kindle. I think Twain is one of the greatest writers ever. I pull his stuff up every once in a while.
9) Book of the New Sun, by Gene Wolfe & The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction: Gene Wolfe was a highly literary sci-fi author, and his written works have been very interesting. His short stories feature unusual perspectives and twists that are open to interpretation and make you really stretch your brain, and the Book of the New Sun is a 4 novel series that was his main hit back in the 80's. It's pretty heavy stuff to read; it's probably been over a year since I picked these up. I keep them on my active reading list to remind myself to get back around to them.
10) Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat: I like eating tasty things, and the way to do that with my income is cooking them myself. However, I'm also very lazy about cooking, so the farthest I generally get is reading cooking theory. This book is about flavoring food, breaking that down to applications of salt, fats, acid, and heat. Salt excites the tastebuds and helps bring out other flavors. Fat is a carrier of flavor, coating the tongue and transmitting whatever flavors it's carrying (think bites of steak that include fatty bits, which taste the most "beefy", or melted cheese or fat-based sauces/salad dressings, or juicy meat vs dried out meat). Acid (or sourness) helps bring balance, balancing saltiness, cutting through fat, and bringing contrast to the predominant flavors. Heat is about the techniques of cooking, specifically how browning brings out flavors and how to maintain proper texture. Included are "lesson" recipes to make to see the author's points for yourself, but as mentioned, I'm too lazy to do much cooking. I have kept this information in mind when tasting other food, and it's been an eye-opener in some respects. I've definitely seen how the salt and fat in the bacon used in the charro beans at my favorite taqueria brings out the other flavors, and I've noted in my mom's cooking how a splash of acid would have livened up some twice baked potatoes she'd made.
11) The Food Lab, by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt: again with the cooking theory. Kenji is less about flavoring and more about cooking techniques, following scientific methods to improve or completely revamp the traditional ways of making American staples. I do intend to try some out. When I'm through with my current schoolwork, I'll go grocery shopping and see what's available; I want to practice making omelettes for breakfasts, and practice either searing pork chops and creating a pan sauce, or roasting a whole chicken by butterflying/spatchcocking the bird for dinners.
I have a bad habit of going into bookstores to browse and walking out with at least half a dozen books (my one really bad consumerist habit), so I have at least 30 more books lying around to get to after these ones. Video games are the ruin of my time, though.