Ok, there is lots of things on my bedstand, but I was thinking of the books. I tend to have a very eclectic collection that I’m reading at any one time, and the current set is somewhat emblematic or representative even if we ignore any professional texts that I might be reading – those can be a bit dry for many people.
The Roman Guide to Slave Management written by Jerry Toner (2014) is semi-ostensibly a management guide, written as 1st-person discussion of slave-owning written by a Roman citizen for his family and friends. Written by a scholar of Roman culture and history, it’s alternately insightful and amusing and worth picking up if the topic of some interest to you. I picked this book up for a variety of reasons, and it would be a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to replicate a slave-owning society in an RPG – especially one that isn’t obviously “evil.”
Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare edited by Daniel Marston & Carter Malkasian (2010) is a collection of excellent chapters discussing the history and evolution of modern counterinsurgency. I enjoy it because it is written by both civilians and prior- (and current) service military. It is also written by individuals from across Europe as well as the United States. It would have been interesting to get the insight of Asian or Middle-Eastern or African scholars as well, though there are individuals who have served in those theatres. I picked this up on a lark from a used bookstore because I thought it would be a good review for my Traveller game.
Throwing the Bones: How to Foretell the Future with Bones, Shells, and Nuts written by Catherine Yronwrode (2012) is really, really well done. It’s an excellent overview of random and semi-random cast methods divination as opposed to highly structured methods (like the Tarot) or omen (observable natural phenomena like bird flight, weather patterns). It focuses on bones (and shells) and even covers interpretive methods based on personal gnosis and for anyone interested in the topic for any reason this is an excellent text to pick up.