Book Review Contest: Call For Entries

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a book review and send it to me at scott[at]slatestarcodex[dot]com before August 5th 2020.

Interested? Here’s the small print (written in normal-sized print, for your convenience):

Pick a book, then write a review similar to my SSC book reviews (examples). I’m mostly expecting reviews of nonfiction, but I guess you could review fiction if you really wanted and had something interesting to say beyond just “here’s the plot and I thought it was good”.

I’ll choose some number of finalists – probably around five, but maybe more or less depending on how many I get – and publish them on the blog, with full attribution, just like with the adversarial collaborations. Then readers will vote for the best, just like with the adversarial collaborations. First place will get at least $1000, second place $500, third place $250 – I might increase those numbers later on. Some winners may also get an invitation to pitch me any other pieces they have that they think would make good SSC posts. I may also release non-finalist entries somewhere else so people can read them – if you strongly object to me making your entry public, let me know.

Please send me your review in a .txt file (eg Notepad), attached to an email. I’m making this rule because otherwise you send me heavily formatted emails with lots of bold text and weird font changes and tables, and it’s really hard to post to SSC in ways that don’t mess up the formatting or look wrong. If you want formatting in your final posted review, please use a tiny amount of hand-written html – ie putting bold things in <b>bold</b> and putting links in <A HREF=””>links</A>. If you want to include images, please use <IMG SRC=””>. For quotes, <blockquote>quote</blockquote>. If you can’t figure this out, just send me the images and tell me where to put them. Don’t get Word or something to save your heavily formatted document as HTML or it will do horrible things that will screw me up when I try to make it into a blog post. If you can’t make or send .txt files for some reason, please paste your review in the body of the email in a way that follows these same principles. I don’t want this part to prevent anyone from sending something in, so if you don’t understand this and are scared of it, just send something in anyway and I’ll fix it up.

In your email to me, please also include the name you want me to attribute your review to – that could be your real name, your first name plus an initial, your pseudonym, etc.

You don’t have to register beforehand or let anyone else know you’re doing this. But if you want to avoid having someone else accidentally review the same book as you, you can post what you’re doing in the comments below and hopefully other people will avoid doubling up. I have vague plans to review Julian Jaynes’ The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind and Ezra Klein’s Why We’re Polarized before August, so you might want to avoid those too.

If you win, I will pay through PayPal or donations to the charity of your choice. I reserve the right to change these conditions in minor ways that don’t significantly inconvenience contest participants.

I’ll check the comments here for a few days and answer any questions you might have.

[EDIT: Please don’t submit reviews that have been posted on other blogs before. Reviews that have been posted on the r/SSC or r/themotte subreddit are provisionally okay, since I don’t want to disincentivize people from doing that, but I’ll try to come up with better guidance soon]

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204 Responses to Book Review Contest: Call For Entries

  1. Selentelechia says:

    I’m planning (tentatively, we’ll see, fingers crossed for my ability to Commit) to review The Sense of Beauty by George Santayana.

  2. Robot Elvis says:

    I’m thinking of writing a review for How Innovation Works, by Matt Ridley.

  3. Plonetheus says:

    I’m thinking of reviewing “Poor Economics” by Banerjee and Duflo.

  4. moshez says:

    I also plan to review “Driven to Distraction” by Hallowell et al.

  5. withmymindsheruns says:

    I just heard the audio version of this post on the podcast which is why this comment is coming so late.

    I want to review Maps of Meaning by Jordan Peterson. I hope I haven’t bitten off more than my schedule will allow me to chew before August, but we’ll see.

  6. boylermaker says:

    Considering Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection, by Peter Godfrey-Smith.

  7. TheRationalDebt says:

    I’m likely to write one for The Most Human Human, by Brian Christian. If anyone else intends to do this, please comment here in the next few days, and I’ll probably switch to Algorithms to Live By.
    If you find this after more than a week has passed, please be aware we’ll both be reviewing the same book.

  8. sansos says:

    I’m going to do Judgment in Moscow

  9. OwlOfMinerva says:

    I’d like to submit a review of Robert Brandom’s A Spirit of Trust. I’d like to devote special attention to Brandom’s historical narrative concerning representationalism in the natural sciences.

  10. Corundum says:

    Hey, thanks Scott! This sounds amazing. I’m really looking forward to trying to drum up an entry of my own. After scrolling through others’ comments (so many great ideas that I can’t wait to read reviews for!) it looks like I’ll be working on one of the few fiction submissions for this. I just need to decide exactly which book to do… Possibilities include taking a classic sci-fi novel and looking at its relevance to modern day (Canticle for Leibowitz? I, Robot?), or perhaps I’ll get around to that idea I had of looking at what Asimov’s Foundation series has to say about Great Man theory of history. Or maybe a thorough and analytical take down of why one of my least favorite books of all time is awful. The possibilities are endless!

  11. Dack says:

    This post is a registration of my intent to review It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear by Gregg Easterbrook

  12. John Schilling says:

    If fiction is permitted, I’m tempted to take up the challenge once issued to Jill/Moon and do a proper review of Atlas Shrugged. Which is more of a political treatise masquerading as fiction, but there’s a novel in there somewhere too. There are things that I very much like about that book, things that I very much dislike, and I’ve thought about putting together a review even without this incentive. Also, it’s a book “known” by far more people than have ever read it, and most reviews I have seen are too blatantly partisan to be any use.

    On the other hand, I’d probably feel obligated to reread it for the purpose, and there are conflicting but terrible rumors about what happens to any merely human mind that thrice reads that tome.

    • DPiepgrass says:

      Hi John, I have just completed a review of Atlas Shrugged. Sorry for not leaving this message earlier! It’s just that I wasn’t thinking of this contest when I started reading it.

      I also prepared a summary of the book here that should only take two or three hours to read!

    • DPiepgrass says:

      I would appreciate preliminary feedback if you can offer any. There is a link to the review at the top of the linked summary above.

  13. deluks917 says:

    This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century

  14. ninalyon says:

    I’ve wanted to write something about William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience for ages, so plan to do that unless there’s a good reason not to.

  15. Belisaurus Rex says:

    Dancing in the Glory of Monsters – Explaining why the Congo is important and why Laurent-Désiré Kabila is the most important figure of the 20th century you’ve never heard of.

    Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – Yes it’s about N*zis but Shirer was not at all sympathetic to them so it’s probably a wash. Would understand if Scott wouldn’t want it posted on his blog.

    A Conquering Spirit – Description from Google Books: “The Fort Mims massacre changed the course of American history in many ways, not the least of which was the ensuing rise of one Andrew Jackson to the national stage. The unprecedented Indian victory over the encroaching Americans who were bent on taking their lands and destroying their culture horrified many and injured the young nation’s pride. Tragedies such as this one have always rallied Americans to a common cause: a single-minded determination to destroy the enemy and avenge the fallen. The August 30, 1813, massacre at Fort Mims, involving hundreds of dead men, women, and children, was just such a spark.”

    • Eugene Dawn says:

      Very interested in a review of Dancing in the Glory of Monsters; I read it a few years ago but am not nearly informed enough in general about the Congo to evaluate it and would love to read what others have to say on it.

      • Belisaurus Rex says:

        Well I’m not super informed either, since Africa is a rather under-discussed topic. Conversations I’ve seen have been about whether colonialism was a net positive or negative, which ultimately are Euro-centric instead of Afro-centric discussions.

        I could give it a good try, but if the book has glaring errors I’d probably not catch them.

  16. George3d6 says:

    Scott, would you be opposed to book reviews that heavily borrow from other works? As long as said borrowing is for the sake of accurately critiquing scientific points in the book

    I’m considering doing a book review of “Lifespan: Why We Age–And Why We Don’t Have to”

    But I believe at least half of that review ought to be a review of the scientific claims in the book, which means borrowing heavily from various papers and specialty blogs.

    Also, are you fine with the reviews being cross-published on people’s personal blogs AFTER the contest has ended (e.g. 1 month after all winners are published)?

    Also, someone *really* needs to review “Bottle of Lies” :p

  17. lambdap says:

    I’m thinking if time will allow me to review The Great Leveler by Walter Scheidel. However, since I’ve never written a book review before, I’d greatly appreciate if anyone had pointers to tips for doing that.

  18. CarlosRamirez says:

    I may tackle The Brothers Karamazov.

  19. WilliamYiffB says:
  20. tb says:

    I’d like to write a review of Symbolic Species by Terrence Deacon in which I will also try to compare and contrast it to the Secrets of our Success.

  21. Reasoner says:

    Hear hear! I love it when I goof off on SSC and absorb an entire book’s worth of information in 30 minutes.

  22. Markus Karner says:

    I’d like to do The Enigma of Reason if that’s OK.

  23. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Should people care whether someone else might review the same book? Superficially, it seems as though it would reduce the odds of winning, but I’m not sure that’s true.

    • Reasoner says:

      As an audience member, I want to see book reviews of different books so I can learn different stuff. So I pre-commit to not voting for any review of a book that is being reviewed by >1 person. (Who’s with me?)

      • Anteros says:

        Actually I really like the idea of different reviews of the same book. Seems to me a good way to distinguish the qualities of the review as well as being interesting for its own sake. (Sorry I can’t be with you ..)

    • Anteros says:

      @Nancy Lebovitz

      It will very slightly reduce the odds of your review making the final five. But for your review to be excluded from the finalists as a result of there being a review of the same book, both reviews would have to merit being in the top five AND the other review would have to be better than yours. Otherwise Scott will just pick your review and then you’ll get the same chance to win as you would had there not been another review of the same book.

  24. zardoz says:

    I’ve been meaning to write a review of Atomic Awakening: A New Look at the History and Future of Nuclear Power by James Mahaffey.

    It’s a pretty interesting romp through the history of nuclear technology. Obviously there is The Bomb and Chernobyl, but there’s so much more. So many weird gadgets, inventors, scientists, even a nuclear-powered space ship. There was even an air-cooled nuclear reactor built with flammable graphite (never again…) There’s even natural nuclear reactors that spontaneously arose in small caves.

  25. RiverOfRationality says:

    I am thinking I will review The Invention of Science by David Wootton.

  26. SteveReilly says:

    Looking over my books, I came across a few that might be decent. The Life of Johnson is one of my favorite books, and a generous amount of quotations from the book would help me reach a respectable word count, but I don’t know how much there is left to say on it.

    From the history section I was looking at
    1.Cold War Killing Fields, a repudiation of the Long Peace thesis.
    2.McKinley, a biography of the president.
    3.Black Flags, Blue Waters a history of the Golden Age of Piracy
    4.The Greatest Knight, a biography of William Marshall, and a history of England and Ireland in the 12th and 13th century.
    5.The Black Count, a biography of Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, father of the novelist and apparently a model for The Count of Monte Cristo.

    For a really offbeat choice, I was considering JW Dunne’s An Experiment with Time. It’s suprising how many well-known people took the book seriously in the early 20th century. But I’m guessing I wouldn’t care enough about it to write a decent review of it.

    Anyway, not sure if I’ll get around to writing a review, but those are my options for now.

    ETA: Another author I was thinking of was Raymond Smullyan. But I wouldn’t be able to do his most technical stuff, and I don’t think an in-depth review of his puzzle books would be very interesting. His essays can be fun, but probably cover too much ground to review in one essay. The only other possibility I could see is a dual review of Who Knows with Martin Gardners Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener.

  27. This makes me wish I had the brain space to submit a jocular review of A Thread Between The Stars (fiction). I’d have to publish it first – but that would be the main point of committing to the review! But it wouldn’t be a serious submission in any case (for one, an author shouldn’t be allowed to review their own work; for two, I can’t supply the necessary level of rigour, be that with or without a straight face), so it’s probably good that I’m too busy with other things right now.

    Really looking forward to these, by the way, like many others have said, I too get a lot of value out of Scott’s book reviews and I expect reviews from his readers are going to be a definite net positive, too. Good luck, everyone!

    • Doctor Mist says:

      If you have actually written it, I can attest that the process for releasing it as a Kindle book is really not onerous.

      (ETA: At least, I know this is so if it is a “normal” book: a fiction or nonfiction story told primarily in words. If it’s a graphic novel, or something filled with charts and figures, I have no experience.)

    • Nietzsche says:

      I thought that book was eye-opening and harrowing.

    • j1000000 says:

      I read the first half of the book on a flight to Vegas. I was worried I’d get into the gambling a bit too much. It worked a little too well and really made walking through the casinos a bummer.

  28. fion says:

    I think this is awesome and I can’t wait to read the shortlist, but man what a crazy thing for Scott to volunteer for! Given how many smart, enthusiastic nerds read this blog, you could end up reading a million words! I’m sure you’re a fast reader with good skim-reading skills, but still, damn. 🙂

    • Joseph Greenwood says:

      That seems a little high to me. If everyone wrote a 9,000 word book review (which is Scott’s soft upper bound on a reasonable length), then to reach one million words we’d collectively need to submit over 111 book reviews. Taking the adversarial collaboration as a baseline for reader participation in this blog, and counting each member of an adversarial collaboration as a separate participant, that’s still ~10 people. Realistically, writing a book review is probably much easier than writing an adversarial collaboration, so let’s quadruple that number. Now we have 50 people writing 9,000 words each, which only comes out at “length of the Lord of the Rings trilogy”. Of course, we might have more book reviews than that, but we also are unlikely to all submit 9,000 word entries. So I think it is more likely than not that Scott will end up reading a wordcount equivalent to an epic fantasy novel, and quite possible that he’ll end up reading the equivalent of a full trilogy of such novels, but I doubt he’ll reach 1,000,000 words.

      • caryatis says:

        Even if it were a million words, that’s only roughly 10-13 books’ worth, which would only take me 3-4 weeks. Scott doesn’t seem like the kind of person who’s afraid of a bit of reading.

      • fion says:

        Yeah, you’re probably right. The numbers I pulled out of my arse to get a million was 200 entries * 5000 words. 200 entries is more than I’d expect, but I don’t think it’s outside the realms of possibility.

        For what it’s worth, I don’t think looking at the adversarial collaborations is a good way to measure baseline interest, since, as you say, they’re probably much harder than writing a book review. But then writing a book review is probably harder than I (or even perhaps some of the commenters saying they’ll do one) realise.

        A couple of other bogus ways to estimate interest:
        – The most recent integer-numbered open thread got 140,000 words in comments. There’s two of those a week. The 5th of August is 13 weeks away. SSC fans will write between them 3.6 million words between now and then. Writing a book review is much harder than writing 5000 words in comments in the open threads so it’ll be much less than that. Factor of 10? 20? Let’s say 200,000 words.
        – There are 52 top-level comments before mine in this thread. Most of those are people clarifying the rules, and even the people who state an intention to take part might drop out. But it’s also early, so some people will see it later. And other people might not register interest. I reckon it could go either way. Call it 50 entries or 250,000 words.

        Huh. To be honest I was expecting both of those approaches to yield higher answers. Oh well. I’m going to say best guess 50 entries, with an 80% chance of being between 10 and 200.
        (Putting it in entries rather than words because I think I’m more likely to learn the result. 😛 )

  29. somervta says:

    Things I have recently been flirting with reading or rereading more seriously and might be interested in doing a review of:
    The Ethical Algorithm (Kearns & Roth)
    Why You Should be A Socialist (Nathan J Jobinson)
    The Narrow Corridor (Acemoglu & Robinson) &/or the psuedo-prequel Why Nations Fail
    The Revolt of the Public (Martin Gurri)
    Arguments about Abortion (Kate Greasley)

    Any thoughts on what might be most interesting? I’m mostly up for any of these, and knowing there was interest/demand would probably help a lot with motivation

    • eigenmoon says:

      I’d be interested to see an adversarial review of “Why You Should be A Socialist” together with “Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies” by Kristian Niemietz (also 2019).

  30. Tom Scotch says:

    I will ideally write a review of either Straw Dogs by John Gray or Finding Our Sea-Legs by Will Buckingham.

    • globlob says:

      similar to eigenmoon’s comment on socialism below, i’d be curious about comparing straw dogs (which I grossly oversimplify as a book that has little belief in progress or in the ultimate benefits of science) with a book that does the opposite

  31. Demeter says:

    I’m reviewing Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin by Stephen Jay Gould. Cheers.

  32. globlob says:

    love this idea.

    Julian Jaynes is like Hofstadter before Hofstadter was Hofstadter. And i think there could still be some use in it: We wrench roots of selves further into our past as we reach further into what is to come (trying to get over that persistent scholastic-industrial consciousness monoculture). Even though many consider it speculative fiction at this point, its still one of my favorite books and inspired me to start writing fiction about hypothetical proto-consciousness (which is tough! since what prevailed came with a selective sweep). He’s also got a society. They wrote a book “Gods, Voices, and The Bicameral Mind,” which has a nice essay describing parallels between the bicameral mind and childhood development.

    I’m planning on writing a review for “The Gene: An Intimate History”

  33. Sniffnoy says:

    Thinking of reviewing Jason Slone’s “Theological Incorrectness”, maybe?

  34. Daniel Frank says:

    As someone who enjoys reading book reviews, I request that Scott ask all participants if their essay is not selected, if they consent to their book reviews being linked/posted elsewhere (ie in the subreddit, or in google docs and linked to on SSC)

  35. TracingWoodgrains says:

    I will most likely be reviewing Herbert Hoover’s Freedom Betrayed. I also have plans for a few other book reviews in the interim (Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, Kropotkin’s The Conquest of Bread, and Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death), but Freedom Betrayed is the one I’m most excited to review and so I expect it to be the one I submit. We’ll see.

  36. hnau says:

    My library access is limited by lockdown and I’m not inclined to buy books online just for the chance they inspire me to a good review, so this will probably wind up being something already on my bookshelf. Shortlist:

    Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel
    Hofstadter, Godel, Escher, Bach
    Jacobs, How To Think
    Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
    Lewis, Mere Christianity
    Reed, Ten Days That Shook the World (possibly with a modern history of the Russian Revolution)
    Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars

    Any thoughts on which of these would / wouldn’t make for good reviews in this context? (e.g. I’m concerned that Kahneman and Diamond would be largely “old news” to readers of this blog.)

    • SteveReilly says:

      Hofstadter as well might be old news. If you have some new take on any of those three, of course, the review could be interesting, but I’d guess most people are familiar with them.

      The Reed + new book on Russian Revolution sounds promising.

    • Evan Þ says:

      Diamond would be very interesting; I’ve heard a lot about him but haven’t really looked into it.

      I recently got a copy of the Penguin Books edition of Reed, but the introduction (by A. J. P. Taylor) pointed out numerous factual errors in the book, which sort of soured me on actually reading it.

      Lewis would be interesting in a very different way.

      Also, does your library offer ebooks? Mine does, and I’ve been avidly making my way through them.

      • hnau says:

        That’s funny, I have the same edition of Reed and nearly didn’t read it for the same reason. As it turns out the writing isn’t so much about the facts as about conveying a sense of urgency anyway. I quickly got lost in the tangle of which committees / factions did what to whom.

        I haven’t tried getting ebooks from my library yet, but I’ve been making good use of Project Gutenberg. Unfortunately nonfiction tends to date itself much more seriously than fiction does.

    • Reasoner says:

      I’ve read Thinking Fast and Slow. I tried to read Hofstadter years ago but stopped because it seemed like stuff I was already familiar with. Based on the Amazon blurb, my very tentative take is that How to Think will be preaching to the choir here on SSC. As an atheist, I’m unsure what would interest me in Mere Christianity. (In terms of apologetics, I’ve already spent much more time than I would like evaluating Christianity.) I’m voting for Ten Days That Shook the World because the Russian Revolution seems fascinating and I want to learn more about it. Getting a modern perspective too sounds great. But Guns, Germs, and Steel and Just and Unjust Wars also seem good.

    • Jitters says:

      I finished reading a big book about the Russian Revolution recently. It’s called A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes and it was very informative, to me at least who really knew nothing about the Revolution beforehand. However, it’s about 800 pages so maybe a little hard to read as a supplement.

      • hnau says:

        That’s the same book I found on Amazon a few days ago and decided to use as a supplement. We’ll see how this goes. 🙂

  37. block_of_nihilism says:

    Great idea!
    I will do Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” This will be a good way to use COVID-enforced free time.

  38. I plan to review Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile. I give it immense credit for changing the way I think about systems, and for pushing me on my current trajectory in study. Scott’s already read and Reviewed The Black Swan, but only recently, and at this rate he won’t read Antifragile until 2022. I couldn’t find another review of the book on the subreddit or at a glance through the general rationalist space, and almost nothing since around 2013.

    • Nietzsche says:

      I’d be interested in reading a good review of Antifragile. Taleb is smart and has intriguing ideas, but is such an insufferably pompous asshole that I could only get halfway through The Black Swan.

      • Urstoff says:

        FBR & TBS both seemed like one or two ideas repeated ad nauseum. Although it’s been a long time since I’ve read them.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I’m not doing a review, but I would be interested in someone looking at the ranges in which things are anti-fragile. Too little stress and nothing happens (or maybe the thing gets weaker), too much stress, and it breaks. It’s only in the midrange where it gets stronger.

        • noyann says:

          Just mentioning The Practice Effect.

          In this world, instead of objects wearing out as you use them, they improve. This is referred to as the Practice Effect. For example, swords get sharper with use, baskets get stronger the more things they carry, mirrors, furniture and decorations look more attractive the more they are looked at. The downside to this being that an object’s condition deteriorates over time if not put to use. Under this system, members of society’s higher strata employ servants to Practice their own possessions to perfection.

  39. Desertopa says:

    I intend to write a review of David Graeber’s “Bullshit Jobs,” preferably with a library copy if I can get one in time given the circumstances, since I’d rather not buy a copy of a book I’ve already read.

  40. Urstoff says:

    gonna review the Phenomenology of Spirit, buckle up everybody

    • waterthrower says:

      I will be taking either Hegel and Modern Society, or A Secular Age, by Charles Taylor. I can’t make myself read PhoS. Good on you.

  41. a reader says:

    I’ll probably review The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.

  42. castilho says:

    I might review Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, by Steven Strogatz. Not sure if I’d be able to make somewhat technical material interesting to read about, but I’m willing to give it a shot.

    • Nietzsche says:

      I thought that was a great book. Insightful, original, and it stayed with me.

  43. renato says:

    > ’ll choose some number of finalists – probably around five, but maybe more or less depending on how many I get – and publish them on the blog, with full attribution, just like with the adversarial collaborations.

    Can you share the other reviews who are posted in the blog in a cloud storage or a zip file, so we can look at the others and check if any interest us?
    Or even make a second-division of the book review contest with no prize in money but with a simple poll to vote just for fun?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I agree something like that should happen, I’ll try to figure out exactly what.

  44. John P. Bore says:

    Is there a particular length you’d like the reviews to be?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Whatever works best for you, but if you need guidance, think between 2000 and 7000 words.

  45. Randy M says:

    I should really review Behave, by Robert Sapolsky, but that means going back through it with a much more critical eye to evaluate just how much is likely to hold up in light of social science replication failures.
    He’s critical on some theories, but does have a habit of saying “here’s one clever study that showed X, from which we can deduce that humans tend to…” Perhaps he’s only extrapolating so when the point is otherwise established or not a crucial one, though that’s not the impression I’ve got.
    I’m not sure I’m equipped to fact check a dense 700+ page tome, though. :/

  46. jonm says:

    Did anyone already mention Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society by Posner and Weyl? I’m considering a review of it.

    • keaswaran says:

      I haven’t seen it mentioned. If I were looking to write a book review that wouldn’t get me much professional credit, this is one that I would love to write (I just couldn’t remember for sure whether Scott had already reviewed it, or if I just found out about the book from my friends who separately also read this blog). But I’d love to see what a member of this community thinks of the book (or anyone!)

  47. notpeerreviewed says:

    I have a number of existing reviews that have been posted on my nobody-reads-it blog, including A Matter of Interpretation by Antonin Scalia, Only The Dead: The Persistence of Violence in the Modern Age by Bear F. Braumoeller, Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America by Daniel J. Tichenor, and a compare-and-contrast review of Michael Young’s Rise of the Meritocracy and Chris Hayes Twilight of the Elites: America after Meritocracy. If those are not allowed because they’re technically already on another blog, I could piece together a review of What Is Intelligence?: Beyond the Flynn Effect by James R. Flynn from various things I’ve written about it.

  48. notpeerreviewed says:

    What if it’s currently on my own blog that basically no one reads?

  49. drunkfish says:

    Are you ok with multi-author reviews? (obviously the authors would settle any prize money splitting ahead of time/without involving you)

  50. ProfessorQuirrell says:

    I am hoping to submit a review of Shattered Sword, a fresh look into the battle of Midway.

  51. Joseph Greenwood says:

    I may review Hackett’s “The Resurrection of Theism: Prolegomena to Christian Apology” or Augustine’s “The City of God”.

  52. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    I may take a crack at Betrayal Trauma.

    Is this a good thread for nominating books people would like to see reviewed even if they aren’t planning on doing it themselves?

    • hnau says:

      I was considering asking for recommendations, so that sounds like a great idea.

  53. Ansh Radhakrishnan says:

    I plan on reviewing How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan.

  54. honoredb says:

    I’m interested in reviewing How Children Fail by John Holt, and may come up with others if I end up enjoying writing that review and Scott doesn’t establish an explicit norm against multiple entries.

    For excerpts from the book, should we use <blockquote>Of course, the exact opposite might be true.</blockquote>?

  55. kjg says:

    I’m interested in reviewing Epstein’s The Dubious Morality of Modern Administrative Law.

  56. Konstantin says:

    I have three possible candidates, which one of these sounds most promising?

    Bare Faced Messiah: A biography of L Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. He is certainly an interesting person and the book is well researched and engaging, but Scientology isn’t really relevant now as anything other than an old cult from the mid 20th century that refuses to die. It’s a good read, but you probably won’t learn anything useful from it.

    Conversations with God: Book 1: This is a personal choice, as it had a major impact on my worldview during my teenage years. I’ve been meaning to revisit it with a more mature perspective, and this seems like a good opportunity to do that. It is one of many spiritual books that came out during the late 1990s, and basically offers a synthesis of various spiritual ideas that generally fit under the “new age” label. Possible downsides are my inability to divorce the book from my personal experience reading it as a teenager, plus many rationalists and atheists will skip it since the author claims to be speaking directly to God.

    The Guns of August: A classic book about the first month of WWI. My main concern here is that the book was written in 1962 and I don’t know enough history to tell if the scholarship still holds up, although a quick scan of Wikipedia shows that it might not. I can’t tell you if this is an accurate history book, but it does illustrate some important principles about diplomacy and decision making that are still relevant today even if the historical narrative has some issues.

    • SteveReilly says:

      The Hubbard bio. Conversations with God just didn’t interest me when I gave it a casual read (although you could take that as a challenge, and try to show that there’s more to the book than you can get from a casual read, I suppose.) With The Guns of August, I’d worry about the lessons on diplomacy and decision making if we have a hard time figuring out how accurate the book is. And I’d definitely have a hard time doing that as well.

      But people like Hubbard fascinate me. Occasionally I hear people say, “He once claimed that the easiest way to make money was to start a religion, and then he proved that was true with Scientology!” But Scientology, if anything, proves that creating a religion is the hardest way to make money. Convincing lots of famous people to buy in to your stories about thetans and Dianetics. Infiltrating the government and not getting in trouble at all. Hell, the current leader’s wife has been missing for years, and she’s presumably either dead or imprisoned somehow, and nobody can do anything about it. Compared to that, building Standard Oil or Microsoft from the ground up seems like a cakewalk

      Hubbard was a shitty writer, and from the interviews I’ve seen he doesn’t come across as some charismatic guy who could charm you into believe whatever nonsense he spouted. But somehow quite a few people thought, “Yeah, he’s listening to a tomato plant through a stethoscope. I should give him lots of money.” Why?

      • Aapje says:

        It seems to me that Hubbard would never have become rich by just being a writer, or by doing anything that requires lots of charisma, but using religion, he managed to do it.

        So for someone with his (lack of) talent, wasn’t religion actually the easiest way to get rich?

    • hnau says:

      The Guns of August is the one I’d be most interested in as a book, but Bare Faced Messiah might be more interesting to me as a review. It depends on what you do with the review– Scott’s model leaves plenty of room for commenting / elaborating on the book’s claims.

      • Belisaurus Rex says:

        Seconding this. I’ve read quite a bit of Tuchman, and while her books are great, the Hubbard book might be a lot more fun as a review. A bit like Scott’s Electric Acid Kool Aid Test review.

    • stubydoo says:

      Rather than submitting a review of the Hubbard bio you could go with the more ambitious project of making a review of Dianetics that’s good enough to put up on this blog.

      • Konstantin says:

        No thanks, I’m not a masochist. I skimmed it once and that was all I could stand, a one sentence summary is “If you’re a pregnant woman you should just lay in bed quietly for nine months, otherwise you are traumatizing your baby and he will need Dianetic therapy to become a functional human.” If you are interested here is a chapter by chapter summary written by a former Scientologist.

  57. cxed says:

    I’m interested in reviewing “The Book Of Why” by Judea Pearl. So much so that I’ve already (coincidentally) finished the job yesterday.
    Is that a problem if we have coincidentally already posted it on our own blog?

    • Freddie deBoer says:

      I read that but I’m afraid it mostly all went over my head. Interesting though.

      • notpeerreviewed says:

        The weird thing about that book is that it’s packaged as pop science, but it think it’s more appropriately targeted at people who actually design regression analyses.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Nah, it’s terrible for any audience.

          • cxed says:

            That is a good review. Better than mine! 🙂

          • notpeerreviewed says:

            “So we are adrift in this strange world where one makes certain causal assumptions (encoded in a diagram) for the sake of assessing others, never sure whether any given arrow is an inviolable assumption or a testable hypothesis, or what makes the difference.”

            That’s the world we live in. For any given body of data, we can’t analyze causality in it without forcing at least some asssumptions about causality that aren’t grounded in that specific data. In a controlled experiment, for example, we assume that the randomization process is not affected by the variable being studied. We can’t tell whether that’s true or not just by looking at that body of data.

            We do base those assumption on general, empirical observations about how the world works, which is “data” of an informal sort, but that’s not what Pearl is talking about when Pearl says “data are dumb” – he means that it’s impossible to draw causal conclusions that are based strictly on the contents of a single data set, with no theoretical backing.

    • Yoav6 says:

      Hey can you share your Blog? I’d love to read your review there if it’s not published on SSC

    • rui says:

      Argh, I just came to the comments to see if someone else had called dibs on this one… Good thing you commented.

      Good luck! (and please put a pic with a one rung ladder with the caption “Statistics”)

  58. caryatis says:

    Suggestion: I’d like to see someone review some of Scott Adams’s latest, such as “Win Bigly.” Don’t think I’m qualified personally.

    • iprayiam says:

      While Adams is great at what I call “provocative intuition”, reviewing his books would be a real chore, because whenever he tries to codify his ideas into principles they become a ball of tangled mess.

      I haven’t read win bigly, but “How to Fail” was an easy read full of interesting ideas that had to be re translated internally over and over again because I got the impression that Scott himself wasn’t sure what he was trying to say in the particulars.

  59. Freddie deBoer says:

    Coincidentally my book comes out on August 4th so the enterprising among you will have a chance to read and review it in one day.

  60. Nick says:

    Please send me your review in a .txt file (eg Notepad), attached to an email. I’m making this rule because otherwise you send me heavily formatted emails with lots of bold text and weird font changes and tables, and it’s really hard to post it in SSC in ways that don’t mess up the formatting or look wrong….

    Your daily reminder that WYSIWYG is the devil. This problem should not even exist.

    I have vague plans to review Julian Jaynes’ The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind and Ezra Klein’s Why We’re Polarized before August, so you might want to avoid those too.

    You’re still on the hook for The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis. Don’t think we’ve forgotten!

    Anyway, this is a cool idea, but I don’t know if I will have anything. Maybe Why Liberalism Failed. We’ll see.

    • keaswaran says:

      Paired reviews of The Aquatic Ape and The Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind would be amaaaazing!

  61. caryatis says:

    Ideas for what kind of book would be good to review? (Does it matter if the book is easy to buy?)

  62. moshez says:

    I plan to review On Numbers and Games (ONAG) by J. H. Conway

  63. Dormin says:

    Are CW books allowed?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’ll leave that up to future-me’s judgment – you can submit them, but if I see them and think “wait, this is terrible, there is no way I will publish it” then I won’t choose them as finalists. If you want more specific advice you can tell me what book you’re thinking of.

  64. codesections says:

    I tentatively plan to review Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.

  65. relative-energy says:

    Do you mind if a version of the review has appeared elsewhere, e.g. in the SSC Subreddit? I may update and revise my review of Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes for this.

  66. Anteros says:

    I’m tempted to do a review of Factfulness by Hans Rosling. I haven’t read it (tho have experience of Rosing’s writing) so will give first dibs to anyone who has. I’m quite surprised Scott hasn’t reviewed it as yet.

  67. HomarusSimpson says:

    I’ve always thought (in a positive way) that Scott’s reviews are not reviews, they are précis. Mind you, most film or tv reviews these days are also précis.

    I’ve been spurred a couple of times to read the book by Scott’s reviews, and come to the conclusion that the world should pay Scott to do these, as there’s a real Pareto principle (or beyond) of getting 80% of the meaning of the book in 20% of the words. The beyond is 90% for 10%. Most 80,000 word factual books can be summarised in 8,000 and lose almost nothing.

    Certainly, reading 10 instances of 10%-word-count-reviews-at-90%-of-meaning gives you 900% meaning in the same time/effort as one whole book.

    • 2dipsynock says:

      I think the shorter versions are primarily useful if you already know and trust the author. The general-reader doesnt have that trust & shared understanding of the general-author, so the audience for a precis is much narrower than the initial book. People here are likely to trust Scott writing “[The author] shows X convincingly”, but in the book they need to actually show it.

    • Freddie deBoer says:

      “Understanding” is just one small part of the purpose of reading a book.

    • keaswaran says:

      You can get the main point of Guns, Germs, and Steel in one sentence – it’s easier to share agriculture, cultural technology, and disease resistance across similar climates than across varied climates, so the residents of the continents with an east-west span ended up colonizing the continents with the north-south span rather than vice versa. I remember reading a short article either by or about Jared Diamond in Discover magazine when I was a kid and being excited by this idea. But I definitely got a lot more from reading the actual book. And perhaps what I very importantly got from reading the book was the ability to reconstruct this short summary on a moment’s notice many decades later – while reading the summary usually just gives someone the ability to do this for a few hours or days.

      That said, in my professional academic life, I largely agree with you. For most academics, it’s worth reading reviews of most new notable books in your field, but there are very few books that any individual would actually get much additional benefit from reading the whole thing. So writing book reviews is a major service to the field – you read the book so most other people either don’t have to, or can figure out that they do in fact have to.

      • Radu Floricica says:

        God, the 50 pages on why almonds are domesticable but acorns not… And yet somehow I have no trace of regret of reading that book, acorns included.

        *) Could be subjective 50 pages, or real. It’s that kind of book.

    • alexschernyshev says:

      the world should pay Scott to do these

      Isn’t that what Scott’s Patreon is for? That’s certainly how I justify it for myself. The value I’m getting from his book reviews is very high.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      I find they’re less memorable than reading the book, and you sometimes reach different conclusions. Thinking like a State for example, ended up for me as an ode to high modernism. I know, the exact opposite of what the author intended (and just checked, the review as well – that’s a coin toss with Scott’s reviews).

      But the bang for the buck just doesn’t compare – half an hour vs a week’s worth of evenings. Plus the extra stuff. Overall I think it’s better to just not compare the reviews with reading the books – too different experiences and benefits.

  68. ThomasStearns says:

    I’d like to do either Keeley’s War before Civilization or The Sovereign Individual, but I haven’t made up my mind and don’t want to boghart two titles…

  69. Boyd Silken says:

    Would a compare and contrast review of two books be okay?

  70. Algon33 says:

    I’ve been reading Computability and Logic. It is a maths textbook, but with a philosophical bent. Would it be OK to write a review on it? I’ll try to avoid technical details where ever possible and focus on the broad ideas. Which lines of enquiry or perspectives bear fruit, where the fundamental limits on logic emerge from etc.

    Otherwise I’ll try a review of Sapiens or an Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.

    • Anteros says:

      I’d be very interested in a review of an Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Seems like a monumental undertaking.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Keep in mind I will be choosing the finalists and I probably would not understand or appreciate a math textbook. If you think you can do a good enough job avoiding technical details then you can try, but you’re going to have an uphill battle.

    • Joseph Greenwood says:

      I’d be excited to read a good exposition on Godel’s Second Incompleteness Theorem aimed at an intelligent lay-person! Everything I’ve ever read on it has been either technical and intended for professionals, or else pop science.

      • keaswaran says:

        The Boolos, Burgess, and Jeffrey book, which I think is the one mentioned above, is probably the best fit for what you describe. I would also recommend picking up Torkel Franzen’s, “Godel’s Theorem: An Incomplete Guide to its Use and Abuse”.

      • Algon33 says:

        I agree with keaswaran. The first incompleteness theorem can be converted into the Halting problem, which is kind of trivial. Sure, it requires some recursion theory to convert it into Turing machines but its not too hard.

        I do not know if the second incompleteness theorem can be simplified in such a way. You need some way to convert “axioms A prove statement B” into a statement of first order logic. That’s not trivial and requires more recursion theory.

    • keaswaran says:

      Is that the Boolos, Burgess, and Jeffrey book, or another one with a similar title? As someone who often teaches this material (mainly to philosophy grad students but sometimes also to excited undergrads or high school students with a more mathy background) I do like this book as a good introduction to the material, that doesn’t assume nearly as much math background as my actual favorite books on it (like the one by Enderton).

      From the two sentence summary you give though, it’s not obvious to me that you’d really be reviewing this book, so much as the subject area that this book covers (but is also covered by other books).

      • Algon33 says:

        Recently, my aim has been to extract questions and modes of thought from a mathematical work as well as the technical tools (I know, I should have been doing that already). As a layman may understand the former, writing a summary seemed worthwhile. Since Scott’s reviews are a mixture of summary and analysis, I was considering submitting it once finished.

        But as you say, its not a review in the standard sense.

        By the way, did you mean ” Computability Theory: An Introduction to Recursion Theory”? The approach reminds me of a course on Godel’s theorems during my undergrad.

  71. noyann says:

    Maybe for the next time — would you also consider accepting markdown? Allows some formatting, but is still easy for humans to parse. Editors convert/export into html.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Recommend me an editor like that?

      • cxed says:

        You can use Markdown with just a pencil and paper. It is simply a convention to annotate simple semantic properties (emphasized, bold, etc.). It is a way for people to communicate consistently in text.

        That consistency helps computers too. If you want to actually automatically convert it to some other format (HTML is normal), you can use a processor. There are many, but I like Discount which is very efficient.

      • noyann says:

        On a Mac I use MacDown, it does export as html and pdf, and is free.

        For other OSs, have a look here.

        Ghostwriter can

        Preview your Markdown document in HTML. With the live preview, you can copy the HTML to paste into your blog, or export to another format. You can even set your own custom style sheet to see how your document will appear once it is posted on your website.

        Also, of interest for your purposes:

        Use the built-in processor, Sundown, to export to HTML. Alternatively, install any of the following to export to multiple formats in your preferred Markdown flavor:
        ghostwriter will automatically detect their installation, allowing you to export to HTML, Word, ODT, PDF, and more!

        A two-step conversion that would allow the authors to use a broad variety of editors and yet produce very basic html can be done with pandoc:
        Format X => Markdown => HTML
        (have not tried it, maybe some garbled format will result)

      • Douglas Knight says:

        You should be able to flip a switch to write posts on wordpress using markdown. (There’s also a plugin for markdown in comments which would be nice, but I think a lot more difficult.)

        You can also convert markdown to html using many websites, such as this one.

  72. Anteros says:

    Do I hear an unwritten rule of ‘only one entry per participant’?

    It’s just that I like the idea so much that if it were allowed, I might end up writing two..

    • salvorhardin says:

      +1. I would like to submit reviews of both Garett Jones, _10% Less Democracy_ and Yuval Levin, _A Time to Build_. The material is sufficiently overlapping that I could certainly do a joint review of both, but they could also stand on their own and I would be interested in which strategy people (including but not limited to Scott) would prefer I pursue.

      • Anteros says:

        My vote would be a joint review – if the overlap is sufficient it’s an interesting (and relatively unusual) idea.

        • salvorhardin says:

          Thanks. On reflection I think I’m going to anchor a review on the Levin, because it seems naturally in dialogue not only with 10% Less Democracy but with a whole lot of other “Masonomist books”– Big Business, The Complacent Class, The Myth of the Rational Voter, The Elephant in the Brain– and that dialogue will make for a more interesting and wide-ranging review essay.

    • caryatis says:

      Even if such a rule exists, there’s no harm in beginning two reviews. There’s a pretty high chance that less than both will be finished or wind up at the same level of quality.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m very unlikely to name more than one review per participant as a finalist. If you want to send in a bunch of reviews in the hopes that one of them makes the cut, I guess you can.

  73. spyder says:

    Snap, I would like to review Julian Jaynes’ Bicameral Mind.
    Maybe we can make it an “adversarial book review”? Scott, if you are interested, feel free to contact me.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Not interested in this, sorry. If you want to try to review it anyway, go for it.

    • cxed says:

      I like the review by Richard Dawkins (in The God Delusion):
      “It is one of those books that is either complete rubbish or a work of consummate genius; Nothing in between! Probably the former, but I’m hedging my bets.”

      I’d love to see Scott – or anyone else – review it.

      • keaswaran says:

        What I’ve heard about it tells me that it is actually both. (I’m not surprised that Dawkins thinks these are incompatible.)

    • Dino says:

      I also would love to see anyone’s review of Jaynes. Wish I could review it too. I read it twice and found it amazing – the implications for “qualia” and much more. Quibble about his lack of attention to non-westerners, what about Chinese, or Indigenous Australians and their dreamtime?

  74. Matthias says:

    If the reviews are going to be as in-depth as yours, it would actually be interesting to see two reviews of the same book.

  75. Anteros says:

    How strict are you going to be about the definition of ‘book’?

    If someone had written a long blog article that I wanted to review, would that be acceptable?

    If so, would it still be acceptable if the author of the blog article was Scott Alexander?

    • caryatis says:

      Personally I’d rather read a review that exposed me to new ideas that one that critiqued Scott’s ideas.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Please don’t review my posts; real books only please.

      (before someone gets smart, I am really unlikely to choose a review of Unsong as a finalist)

      • drunkfish says:

        I hadn’t even considered it, but now I’m very tempted to treat Unsong as nonfiction and do a Talmud-inspired review. If only I had spent more (any…) time studying the Talmud…

  76. wonderer says:

    How long can it be (both lower and upper limit)? Is it OK if the book review is already published on a personal blog?

    • Jeremiah says:

      I had the same questions. In particular I’m thinking of taking a review I already did and expanding it for the contest.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I don’t want to say a hard limit, but the soft limit is between 2000 – 7000 words (my estimate of the 95th percentile range of my own book reviews).

      Please don’t submit something that’s already been on another blog. Reviews that have been posted on the r/SSC or r/themotte subreddit are provisionally okay, since I don’t want to disincentivize people from doing that, but I’ll try to come up with better guidance soon.

  77. tenoke says:

    Can anyone recommend really good non-SSC book reviews in the meantime?

    • Vosmyorka says:

      My comments keep getting eaten by the spam filter because of all the links, so I’ve removed them all, making this post a little pointless, but there are a number of good reviews found on the r/slatestarcodex reddit (and probably more on its spicier spinoff, r/themotte, which also has a compilation of all book reviews posted there).

      Some of my favorite book reviews from SSC-affiliated reddit are:
      u/werttrew’s review of Bryan Caplan’s The Case Against Education (on r/slatestarcodex)
      u/lunaranus’s review of Fernand Braudel’s Civilization and Capitalism (on r/slatestarcodex)
      u/TracingWoodgrains’ review of Lee Kuan Yew’s From Third World to First (on r/themotte)
      u/Shakesneer’s review of Peter Zeihan’s The Accidental Superpower (on r/themotte)
      u/Shakesneer’s review of Eric Hoffer’s The Ordeal of Change (on r/themotte)
      u/mcjunker’s review of Robert Heinlein’s Tunnel in the Sky (on r/themotte, and a good example of a review of a work of fiction which still manages to be an interesting commentary on the real world)

      Good book reviews outside of Reddit from bloggers I was introduced to by reading SSC comments include Scott Aaronson’s review of Tom Chivers’ The AI Does Not Hate You and Anatoly Karlin’s review of Andrew Yang’s The War on Normal People. Note that Karlin blogs on a website which is mostly full of cranks, though there are one or two interesting writers.

    • Vosmyorka says:

      I can also point you to gwern dot net slash book-reviews for many very interesting reviews, though usually more bare-bones than the ones Scott or his imitators write. Four of the best by gwern, which spurred me to read the actual works, include John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood, Hamilton Gregory’s McNamara’s Folly, Max Gergel’s Excuse Me, Sir, Would You Like to Buy a Kilo of Isopropyl Bromide?, and Ron Chernow’s Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Probably not coincidentally, these are also some of gwern’s longest reviews.

      I don’t know if these count as non-SSC, or even whether our host might be offended if I linked to, but there are also many excellent book reviews on Scott’s old LiveJournal which I wish he’d repost to this blog so it would be easier to point people to them. Four of the best ones from that are Moss Roberts’ translation of Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms (also a review of a fictional work), S.C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon, Judith Rich Harris’s The Nurture Assumption, and Tyler Cowen’s The Great Stagnation.

      Anyway, I love book reviews and can’t wait for this contest 🙂

    • Vosmyorka says:

      I can also point you to gwern dot net slash book-reviews for many very interesting reviews, though usually more bare-bones than the ones Scott or his imitators write. Four of the best by gwern, which spurred me to read the actual works, include John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood, Hamilton Gregory’s McNamara’s Folly, Max Gergel’s Excuse Me, Sir, Would You Like to Buy a Kilo of Isopropyl Bromide?, and Ron Chernow’s Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Probably not coincidentally, these are also some of gwern’s longest reviews.

      I don’t know if they count as non-SSC, or even whether our host might be offended if I linked to, but there are also many excellent book reviews on Scott’s old blog which I wish he’d repost to this one so it would be easier to point people to them. Four of the best ones from that are Moss Roberts’ translation of Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms (also a review of a fictional work), S.C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon, Judith Rich Harris’s The Nurture Assumption, and Tyler Cowen’s The Great Stagnation.

      Anyway, I love book reviews and can’t wait for this contest 🙂

    • Vosmyorka8 says:

      I can also point you to gwern for many very great reviews, though usually more bare-bones than the ones Scott or his imitators write. Four of the best by gwern, which spurred me to read the actual works, include John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood, Hamilton Gregory’s McNamara’s Folly, Max Gergel’s Excuse Me, Sir, Would You Like to Buy a Kilo of Isopropyl Bromide?, and Ron Chernow’s Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Probably not coincidentally, these are also some of gwern’s longest reviews.

      I don’t know if they count as non-SSC, or even whether our host might be offended if I linked to them, but there are also many excellent book reviews on Scott’s old blog which I wish he’d repost to this one so it would be easier to point people to them. Four of the best ones from that are Moss Roberts’ translation of Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms (also a review of a fictional work), S.C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon, Judith Rich Harris’s The Nurture Assumption, and Tyler Cowen’s The Great Stagnation.

      Anyway, I love book reviews and can’t wait for this contest 🙂

      • Andrew Hunter says:

        I can also point you to gwern for many very great reviews, though usually more bare-bones than the ones Scott or his imitators write

        Gwern’s book review page murders my browser (Chrome or Firefox)–it’s basically impossible to read the text because i can’t scroll or change size without the tab locking up hard, let alone trying to search.

        Is that published anywhere in a more usable form? One web page per book, perhaps?

    • Jeremiah says:

      I do a monthly round-up of all the books I’ve read. Not all the reviews are in depth, but some go. I just recently posted April’s compilation and here’s a link to March’s. March contained a pretty in depth review of the Decadent Society by Ross Douthat.

    • Tarpitz says:

      They may be a rather different breed of long form review to Scott’s, and unlikely to leave you much better informed about anything of consequence than you already were, but I very much enjoyed Seamus O’Reilly’s reviews of Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce’s seminal novels Striker, Sweeper and Defender.

    • keaswaran says:

      Cosma Shalizi does amazing book reviews (particularly if you want reviews by a politically opinionated statistician with interesting divergences from Bayesian views, and a sloth-themed online persona):

      Crooked Timber ( has done some great events on the following books (linked from the sidebar on their front page):
      Jo Walton / Thessaly Books
      Danielle Allen / Our Constitution
      Ken MacLeod / Various
      Felix Gilman / The Half-Made World/The Rise of Ransom City
      Jack Knight and James Johnson / The Priority of Democracy
      Francis Spufford / Red Plenty
      David Graeber / Debt: The First 5,000 Years
      Erik Olin Wright / Envisioning Real Utopias
      George Scialabba / What Are Intellectuals Good For?
      Steven Teles / The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement
      Charles Stross / Various
      China Miéville / Iron Council
      Chris Mooney / The Republican War on Science
      Dani Rodrik / One Economics, Many Recipes
      Joseph Carens / The Ethics of Immigration
      Doug Henwood / After the New Economy
      Levitt & Dubner / Freakonomics
      Sheri Berman / The Primacy of Politics
      Susanna Clarke / Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
      Yochai Benkler / The Wealth of Networks

    • lowdanie says:

      I recently wrote a review of “Consciousness Explained” by Daniel Dennett:

  78. SolveIt says:

    How do you feel about (English) reviews of books written in a different language?

    Edit to clarify: Books written in a non-English language that don’t also have readily available translations.