Sabbatical readings

I am on research leave in the Winter Semester. Can’t say I’m not ready for it.

I decided what I really need is to read. I don’t need time to write, but I am in grave danger of having no real ideas about which to write. Jo came up with the great metaphor (not least given my gardening tendencies) that my soil is exhausted and I need to add some organic matter – leaf mould, sheep manure, etc. to fertilise the brain.

So I asked a bunch of my colleagues, with different sorts of interests, the following question:

Can you give me a couple of suggestions of readings – books or articles – that you’ve found really exciting and interesting, that you’ve read in the last year or two? I don’t care in what area (I need to be eclectic), just the most interesting things you’ve read, full of ideas to get the ‘little grey cells’ going.
And please don’t agonise, whatever comes into your head first!

Here are the responses from those who responded, in no particular order. Some are more obvious than others, but a pretty decent reading list to be going on with. They are academics, so the ‘two’ constraint was clearly a struggle for some :-).

Reviel Netz, Barbed Wire

Grégoire Chamayou, Manhunts: a philosophical history

Franco Bifo Berardi, After the Future

John Blewitt and Ray Cunningham (eds) The Post-growth project

Andrew Dobson, Listening for Democracy

Andrew Barry, Material Politics

Warren Magnusson, Politics of Urbanism

Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything (two votes)

Tanya Murray Li, The Will to Improve

Clive Hamilton Earthmasters

Barbara Kingsolver Flight Behavior

James Lovelock Rough Ride to the Future

Peter Taylor Extraordinary Cities

Saskia Sassen Expulsions

James Meek Private Island

Anna Tsing Friction

Cary Wolfe Before the Law

Timothy Campbell Improper Life

Timothy Mitchell Rule of Experts

Geoff Mann Disassembly Required

Jessica Dempsey Enterprising Nature (not out yet!)

The Polity Resources series books (Timber, Fish, Coltan, Oil, Land, Food, etc.).

Stacy VanDeveer’s Trans Atlantic Institute report “Still Digging

Gavin Bridge’s 2004 Annual Review of Energy and Environment piece on Mining and the Environment.

Nicole Detraz: International Security and Gender (2012, Polity) and Environmental Security and Gender (2015-but out already, Routledge)

Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the World became Modern (Norton, 2011). A brilliant read about Renaissance book-hunters rediscovering lost classics from antiquity. (MP: I’ve already read this – it is excellent)

Melissa Lane, Greek and Roman Political Ideas (Pelican, 2014). Great intellectual history that explores key political concepts in the ancient world.

Brendan Simms, Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present (Penguin, 2014). A very readable book that tells the history of Europe exactly as the sub-title says.

Slavoj Zizek First as Tragedy, then as Farce

The documentary series Untold History of the United States

Hannah Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism
Robert Heilbroner, Worldly Philosophers
William James, Pragmatism.

Thanks very much to Michele Betsill, Simon Dalby, Richard Devetak, Andy Dobson, Steve Hinchliffe, Mark Lacy, Robert Macneil, Tom Princen, Kara Shaw, Johannes Stripple.

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4 Comments»

  Matthew Paterson wrote @

Andy Dobson added later: Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter

suggestions also from people on Twitter:

Amanda Machin, Negotiating Climate Change (suggested by Warren Pearce)

Deborah Mattinson, Talking to a Brick Wall (suggested by Becky Willis)

  Matthew Paterson wrote @

And from Jacquie Best:
Pierre Lascoumes and Michel Callon, Acting in an Uncertain World.

And if you haven’t read A thousand plateaus or The order of things …

  Matthew Paterson wrote @

and from Hidemi Suganami

1. Sebastian Gardner, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason. This ‘guidebook’ is itself a book of philosophy but no doubt best read concurrently with CPR (which needs to be read a few times, I am told).

2. Alexandre Koyre, Metaphysics and Measurement. This has a fascinating story to tell about Galileo (and the way he conducted his experiments) and the circularity of the idea of clock measuring (clock) time.

3. Norbert Elias, An Essay on Time. An antidote to Kant.

4. Max Scheler, The Nature of Sympathy, contains a wonderful characterization of ‘love’ and ‘hate’, as a process and a history of art as a strife to expand the realm of the expressible (and experienceable) against what has hitherto been unexpressed/un-experienced. Poor translation but you can reconstruct in your head what he is saying in German. This book make me realise the mistake of the individualistic worldview.

  Matthew Paterson wrote @

and from Paul Wapner
Andrew Sullivan, Far From the Tree


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