Reading

Books: on balance, I'm for them. These are most of the ones I've read since 2007 or so. The star ratings correspond more closely to "how worth my time this felt" than "how good this is."
2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007

April 11 Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City
Derek S. Hyra


This is a thoughtful and important look at gentrification and neighborhood transformation in DC. It suffers badly from trying to pose as ethnography when it is actually more like an anthology of editorial essays. It also suffers from Hyra's insistence on coining phrases like "Cappuccino City" and "living the wire" that aren't, or don't appear to be, well connected to his research and his repeated claims to be advancing whole fields of academic research, such as intersectionality, in short chapters. That being said I would have gladly read an edition of this urgently needed book that was twice as long - especially if the extra page count were filled by quotes from the actual residents he spoke with.

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April 06 The Reindeer People: Living with Animals and Spirits in Siberia
Piers Vitebsky


Amazing anthropological/ethnographic writing and a great read in combination with Donna Haraway's When Species Meet.

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February 10 In Our Time
Ernest Hemingway
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January 29 Imago (Xenogenesis, #3)
Octavia E. Butler
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January 21 Architect or Bee?: The Human/Technology Relationship
Mike Cooley
David F. Noble


This book fundamentally changed how I view the historical position of design relative to movements for social change. Definitely to be read as polemic rather than an academic study!

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January 13 Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilization
Richard Sennett
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January 02 They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us
Hanif Abdurraqib
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December 08 The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers 1804 - 1999
Misha Glenny
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December 02 Mist from the Geyser (The Flamingo Diamond Series)
Marc Pearson
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December 02 The Claw: The Terrible, Beautiful Claw (Flamingo Diamond Sseries #2)
Marc Pearson
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December 02 The Flamingo Diamond
Marc Pearson
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November 30 How Music Works
David Byrne
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October 17 Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest
Hanif Abdurraqib
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September 23 Vattu: The Name & the Mark
Evan Dahm
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September 02 And Then the World Blew Up
Mr. Fish
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September 02 The Beauty, Vol. 1
Jeremy Haun
Jason A. Hurley, John Rauch, Fonografiks
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August 26 A Savage Order: How the World's Deadliest Countries Can Forge a Path to Security
Rachel Kleinfeld
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August 15 Electoral Politics in Africa Since 1990: Continuity in Change
Jaimie Bleck
Nicolas Van de Walle


Well researched, well written, and well argued!

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August 03 My Struggle: Book Three
Karl Ove Knausgård
Don Barlett
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July 20 Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
John Perkins


The problem at the core of this book is trust. Do dynamics and even overt American foreign policy strategies like the ones he describes exist? Sure. Do I believe that literal "economic hit men" under the command of the NSA exist, and that Perkins was personally the key player in the economic colonization of half a dozen countries around the world? I am very dubious. And if that is poetic license, what else is?

Perkins might have done well to take the advice he says he got from one publisher, and edited this as fiction in the spirit of John Grisham - this is actually pretty good writing and it would have been more honest.

Oh, and he is super weird about women.

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July 10 The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
Richard Rothstein


This is an outstanding work of legal and historical scholarship that calls bullshit on complacent progressivism at a rate of approximately once per sentence for three hundred straight pages. But it's not personal, it's just a precondition for change. Read this in a single sitting.

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July 05 Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds
Adrienne Maree Brown
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June 14 The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick


Ironically, the main reason to read this book is not because it is incredibly informative but because it is astoundingly well written.

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June 11 The Globalizing Cities Reader
Roger Keil
Xuefei Ren, Neil Brenner


This is a comprehensive and thoughtful survey of the scholarship and debate on the topics of the "world city," "global city," and later variants and interventions. These ideas seek to understand cities less as places and more as nodes in global economic (and other) systems and to understand local growth, politics, and inequities in that frame.

I slogged straight through but this book is well-organized and will serve as a handy reference manual going forward!

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June 08 Stray Bullets, Vol. 2: Somewhere Out West
David Lapham
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June 07 Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses, Vol. 1
David Lapham
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May 21 Trump Sky Alpha
Mark Doten
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May 12 Gotham Writers' Workshop: Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide From New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School
Alexander Steele
Gotham Writers' Workshop
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May 05 State-Building in Kosovo: Democracy, Corruption and the EU in the Balkans
Andrea Lorenzo Capussela


A fascinating and genteelly polemical insider's account of the EU and UN missions to build a modern democracy in Kosovo. I found this really useful as a window into the worlds of diplomacy and international affairs at their most stilted. I'm sure I missed a lot of nuance and maybe some pot shots but.. neat.

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April 28 The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature's Great Connectors
David George Haskell


This is a beautifully written book that is worth reading for its aesthetics alone. Haskell deploys words and imagery in a candidly poetic way that most contemporary fiction writers (maybe outside of Latin America?) don't allow themselves to do. I also appreciate his refusal to treat science, culture, and ethics as separate concerns. I was frustrated often by the attendant lack of focus: is this book about trees? Anthropology? Philosophy? Ecology? In the end this book is a very long and beautiful tone poem.. and a bit of a mess.

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April 06 The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1)
Liu Cixin
Ken Liu
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March 19 Goodnight Punpun Omnibus, Vol. 1
Inio Asano


Good, sweet, and true!

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March 16 Intersectionality
Patricia Hill Collins
Sirma Bilge


A good overview that also presents some of the areas of emergence and contestation in the field. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of specificity about the *how* of intersectional praxis.

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March 12 The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter
David Sax


What a frustratingly bad book on such an interesting and important topic. Entire chapters are given over to marketers from companies like Moleskine talking about how "there's just something special the feel of paper" etc, on repeated but unsupported arguments that digital technology is inherently alienating, and on a strongly implied but unexplored (e.g. in the title) assertion that some kind of groundswell of analog technology is happening as a result. He also spends approximately one sentence defining his terms: what exactly is meant by analog and by digital? In the end he drives away from his childhood summer camp in the warm glow of nostalgia, opting for a Neil Young song on the radio in preference to streaming "digital" music, his windows down to let in the summer breeze. The irony is that the broadcast equipment, the radio in his car, and probably the car itself are all largely digital equipment. Oh and no, IDEO did not invent human centered design. Ugh.

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March 09 When Species Meet
Donna J. Haraway


Did I secretly read this book to give me air cover to watch animal odd-couple videos? Maybe. Did it reconfigure my model of self in the process? Yes.

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March 01 The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Jane Jacobs


This book fundamentally changed how I look at both cities and power. Wow.

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February 14 Why Not Eat Insects?
Vincent M. Holt
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January 19 Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis, #2)
Octavia E. Butler
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January 19 Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)
Octavia E. Butler
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January 03 Lincoln in the Bardo
George Saunders
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2019 total: 45