"What have you been reading lately that you learned from?"
For me, very lately: Richard Tuck, Rights of War and Peace, and Adrian Vermeule, Mechanisms of Democracy. And, yes, in the distinction between "edifying works" and "works that challenged me and taught me" Tuck qualifies as the latter-- it's a book that does teach a lot of new stuff but also unsettles a lot of old stuff in a very productive way. Not that there's anything wrong with reading just for the sake of learning new stuff...
I like this exchange from the comments thread, too:
Another equally important question, I think, is "what have you written about lately that you learned from?"
Writing is one of the best ways to learn, especially if it's about what you're reading.
Posted by: Adam | November 05, 2007 at 08:57 AM
I have always enjoyed writing professional book reviews precisely for that reason ... it forces me to think about what I am learning from what I am reading.
My colleague Richard Wagner often says something to the effect that "Thinking without writing is little more than daydreaming." And Buchanan always stressed to us (his students) that "Writing is research."
Anyway, excellent point about writing and learning.
Posted by: Peter Boettke | November 05, 2007 at 10:19 AM