Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution

by R. F. Kuang

I snapped up this book the moment I saw it, because I already loved R. F. Kuang’s The Poppy War. Babel is a hard book to describe but an easy book to recommend. But I’ll try to describe it anyway.

Babel is about communication, colonialism, cultural appropriation, and capitalism. It touches on so many of the conversations we have been struggling to have about those things—especially over the last few years. It is also about magic. The magic of silver working is literally lost in translation. It is a feast for word nerds (like yours truly). And it is a compelling story of unlikely friendships and reluctant heroes.

I loved it, and it’s going straight onto my book recommendations.

A History of the Barricade

by Eric Hazan

A chronology of the barricade as a tool of civil insurrection, from its birth in the streets of Paris, then spreading briefly to the rest of Europe before being rendered ineffective by artillery. I had hoped to read more about the barricade as a tactic—what made them effective or not. Instead they are nearly a footnote in this book about (mostly) Parisian uprisings. It’s not until the epilogue that the author says anything about the significance of barricades themselves. Disappointing.