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SLS Faculty Holiday Reading Suggestions

Looking for holiday reading suggestions? Stanford Law School faculty weigh in on their favorite books from 2012.


  1. Havana Requiem by Paul Goldstein

    "Havana Requiem: A Legal Thriller by our own Paul Goldstein. A tour de force of a crime novel. As always in his legal thrillers, Paul makes patent law interesting, suspenseful, and understandable -- even sexy. And in this novel he adds a richly-observed portrait of present-day Cuba, including the best way to peel a banana."
    - Janet Cooper Alexander 
    Frederick I. Richman Professor of Law 
  2. One Summer in Arkansas by Marcia Kemp Sterling

    "With even-handed empathy and great skill, Sterling shows us one culture straining under the weight of its history and another one reinventing itself at land's end in California. A fascinating read with unforgettable characters. What is not to like about a book set in Arkansas and Silicon Valley?"
    Barbara Babcock
    Judge John Crown Professor of Law, Emerita

  3. The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East by Timur Kuran

    "In The Long Divergence, Duke professor Timur Kuran weaves a truly spell-binding account of how Islamic business law, and in particular, Islamic partnership law, undermined the accumulation of wealth in the Muslim world at precisely the same time that European business law brought on the wealth that made possible the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution."

    The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

    "In The Rational Optimist, evolutionary biologist Matt Ridley crafts an impenetrable argument as to why environmental pessimists and alarmists are misguided and irrational, and why a prosperous and happy human future is inevitably tied to fossil fuels and the resource-conserving nature of functioning markets."

    The Invention of Law in the West by Aldo Schiavone

    "The Invention of Law in the West could perhaps be renamed "The Gift of the Romans."  In it, renowned classicist Aldo Schiavone demonstrates why what we think of as "modern law" was actually a creation of Roman political science and practical necessity, and made possible the Roman Empire and the world we have today."
     - G. Marcus Cole 
    Wm. Benjamin Scott and Luna M. Scott Professor of Law

  4. The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4 by Robert Caro 

     "In describing how LBJ seized the reins of power after JFK's assassination, Caro delivers a masterful account of the interplay of politics, principle, history, and personality shaping the legislative process."
    - Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar 
    Stanley Morrison Professor of Law
  5. How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allsworth and Karen Dillon
    The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

    Rob Daines
     Pritzker Professor of Law and Business
  6. 1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart

    Michele Dauber
    Professor of Law and Bernard D. Bergreen Faculty Scholar
  7.  Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

     "Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior (2012), which boldly illustrates the impact of climate change, while artfully capturing life in Appalachia."
    Nora Freeman Engstrom
    Associate Professor of Law
  8. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

    "My favorite this year has been Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.  Insights and nuggets of wisdom on every page about the way people make decisions.  Extremely useful for lawyering and for life in general."
     - Jeffrey L. Fisher 
    Professor of Law and Co-Director, Supreme Court Litigation Clinic

  9. The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq

    "By turns, sly, perverse, ironic, poignant, radical, reactionary, France's iconoclastic poet and novelist offers a meditation on the crass commercialization of high art, national culture and the pastoral; the sublime beauty of mass production; sex, love and heartbreak; old age and death and a mystery involving the brutal murder of a celebrated and reviled poet and novelist named Michel Houellebecq."
  10. Public Enemies by Bernard-Henri Lévy and Michel Houellebecq

    "A series of correspondences between the charismatic, self promoting philosopher and champion of human rights and democracy and the reclusive, misanthropic, nihilistic poet and novelist.  For insight into the state of intellectual life in a nation that actually cares about the state of its intellectual life."
  11. The Age of Doubt by Andrea Camilleri

    "Neurotic gourmand and reluctant ladies man Detective Montalbano may be the most endearing fictional sleuth since Phillip Marlowe.  Camilleri's Sicily is so subtly and yet vividly drawn that you'd want to book a flight and head straight to Enzo's Trattoria but for fear you'd be shot or kidnapped on the way from the airport."
  12. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

    "You might have heard there's a movie version coming out but much of charm of this book is in Tolkien's descriptions.  You've read it a dozen times already?  Try reading it to a child."
     -Richard Thompson Ford
    George E. Osborne Professor of Law