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.
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