24 Hours in Ancient Rome: A Day in the Life of the People Who Lived There (Philip Matyszak, 2019/#47):Quite entertaining and informative, with the obvious caveat that there's always something mysterious, some invisible difference that might not be there at all, in people we're separated from by two thousand years.
Detecting Texts: The Metaphysical Detective Story from Poe to Postmodernism (eds. Patricia Merivale and Susan Elizabeth Sweeney, 2019/#48): More fascinating and suggestive than closely argued (and sometimes downright abstruse in the worst sense), but that's perhaps unavoidable in the field (or, rather, indicates I'm applying meta-reasoning criteria that's not appropriate to the field). Some horrifying textual and meta-textual things appear, though; the analysis of the sexual violence in Robbe-Grillet's stories, for example, is consistent in the lack of interest in the victim's point of view. As an aside, I'm surprised there's no mention of Lovecraft, whose Necronomicon is arguably the most influential McGuffin text (and the one with the clearest intra- and inter-textual metaphysical implications) of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Culture, Courtiers, and Competition: The Ming Court (1368–1644) (ed. David M. Robinson, 2019/#49): A collection of articles on Chinese Imperial court culture during the Ming dynasty. I find commerce and culture, particularly bookish culture, in Ming China awfully interesting (and arguably the peak of pre-industrial civilization, even beyond Rome), and although the Court isn't at the core of my interest, it certainly played a key role in the period.
The Venetian Discovery of America: Geographic Imagination in the Age of Encounters (Elizabeth Horodowich, 2019/#50): A look at how Venetians engaged with the newly discovered America — a place where, unlike their problematically powerful and not-far-enough Hapsburg, they had no commercial engagements, or even people on the ground — through their print culture: books, maps, etc. I don't think the author quite supports her claims of intentionality and effectiveness in Venice's attempt to insert themselves into the exploration/colonization/exploitation process through knowledge practices, but even so it's a fairly interesting book (I mean, it's Venice, books, and maps).