ReadingBooks: 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."
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.
Amazing anthropological/ethnographic writing and a great read in combination with Donna Haraway's When Species Meet.
Octavia E. Butler
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!
Jason A. Hurley, John Rauch, Fonografiks
Nicolas Van de Walle
Well researched, well written, and well argued!
Karl Ove Knausgård
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.
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.
Adrienne Maree Brown
Ironically, the main reason to read this book is not because it is incredibly informative but because it is astoundingly well written.
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!
Gotham Writers' Workshop
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.
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.
Good, sweet, and true!
Patricia Hill Collins
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.
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.
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.
This book fundamentally changed how I look at both cities and power. Wow.
Vincent M. Holt
Geoffrey B. West
Octavia E. Butler
Octavia E. Butler