New Year, Same Me, Same Books: TPM’s To-Read Pile

TPM Illustrations/Getty Images

Back in the before times, TPM’s office was conveniently located a few short blocks away from Barnes and Noble. A glorious thing! Floors upon floors of books. Before you knew it your lunch hour is done and you had to grab your spoils and go. It was both a blessing and a curse — for me at least.

Joe, TPM’s Publisher, and I sometimes talked about how we restrict ourselves from earthly indulgences like food, shopping, etc. But books are another story. Books are the one thing that you should always just buy, buy buy (or rent, rent, rent, but buying is essential during a pandemic when the NYPL is inaccessible at best).

All this is to say, I buy far too many books to read in a timely fashion. Right now I can see my bedside table is covered in a stack of three books, all eagerly awaiting my attention. I feel bad, overindulgent. But then I walk to my local bookshop and find something new and exciting, and $20 later, I have a new fling in my life — probably an overpriced hardcover who in a week’s time will have tears in the book jacket and a spine so broken it’s reminiscent of a five-year overdue library book.

I can’t be the only person who does this. There’s just so much good content out there! So many books, so little time, how could you ever hope to read them all.

TPM is a company of readers, go figure, and we are all sharing our to-read list this month — whether it was a gift we received over the holidays or that one book that sits on our shelves taunting us. We’d love to hear from you too! Make sure to comment below with some of the books you have and are just waiting for the perfect moment to get to. You can always purchase any of the books below by visiting our TPM Bookshop profile page. Be sure to check back again next month for some new staff reading recommendations, and if you’ve missed any, you can find all of our reading lists here. Happy reading!

Matt Shuham, Reporter

The Taming of the American Crowd: From Stamp Riots to Shopping Sprees by Al Sandine
“I bought this book used in the final weeks of my senior year of college. In the years since, it’s mocked me from the shelf: ‘You’re going to need me someday, and you’re only 40 pages in!’ Well, the book was right, I need it. Crowd dynamics — their unconscious decisions, the neighborhood-dependent police response — have always interested me, and Sandine does the work of putting the American scene in proper context. He writes: ‘Refined for popular consumption, reduced to a patriotic melee or two (the Boston Massacre, the famous tea party), the riotous underside of American history is like an ingredient on a food product known only by its inclusion in the tiny print on the side of a can or carton.'”

Christine Frapech, Senior Designer

The Leopard by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa
“Joe Ragazzo gave it to the publishing team years ago as a holiday gift. I just recently dusted it off for some light reading. It’s never too late to read a gifted book!”

Derick Dirmaier, Head of Product

Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter
“Gödel, Escher, Bach is the ultimate one for me. Been carrying that book around for going on 2 decades. One day though, one day”

Nicole Lafond, Special Projects Editor

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

“I know I’m about seven years behind, but ‘Citizen’ is next on my list. I bought it using Christmas money from my very sweet, but very conservative grandmother. I finished ‘The New Jim Crow’ this summer and ‘Citizen’ seemed like the perfect follow-up. Can’t wait to dig in.”

Joe Ragazzo, Publisher

Satantango by László Krasznahorkai
“I don’t actually know what Satantango is about, and I don’t plan on finding out before I read it. My cousin Nick and I often send each other books that we think the other would enjoy. This year, he sent me ‘The Wake’ by Paul Kingsnorth and ‘Harvest’ by Jim Croce. (Both were phenomenal and I highly recommend). Satantango has a cool name, an awesome cover, and won the Man Booker International Prize in 2015. My assumption based on knowing my cousin is that it probably pushes the limits of narrative fiction. Not quite avante garde, but not ‘typical.’ He also knows I like books where gods interact with humans. So maybe Satan is in the book (as was the case in ‘Master and Margarita,’ which Nick gave me a few years ago). Anyway, give people books. It will make them happy and make you happy as well.”

Jackie Wilhelm, Associate Publisher

The Romanovs: 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore
“The saddest part is I actually got maybe a third of the way through the book at one point a few years back when I first bought the book and then nothing! It sits on my bookshelf with its lovely blue book jacket waiting. It’s a very patient book! The darkly tragic end of the Romanov dynasty is incredibly compelling and Montefiore does an excellent job weaving the tale of the bloodline from beginning to end without shying away from the horrific injustices done throughout their time in power.”

TPM partners with Bookshop, a non-profit bookseller whose objective is to help independent bookstores survive. TPM and independent bookstores both earn a small percentage of revenue for each book sold. You can learn more about Bookshop here, and on this episode of the Josh Marshall podcast.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

TPM Staff
Latest Cafe
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: