Summer Reading: Your Non-Fiction Suggestions


The other day we solicited summer reading suggestions in fiction. Fiction! Who has time for that? If we are going to be reading something this summer that isn’t philosophy, we better learn something about the real world from it. So, readers, which works of non-philosophy non-fiction do you recommend your philosofriends read this summer?

Richard Estes, "Columbus Circle Looking North" (detail)

Richard Estes, “Columbus Circle Looking North” (detail)

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Dale
Dale
5 years ago

I just finished “Tribe” by Sebastian Junger. It’s a pretty quick read and easy to follow. He brings up a lot of good points about the fractured nature of our society and the impact it can have on people.Report

Ionut Ciobanu
Ionut Ciobanu
5 years ago

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some are So Rich and Some So Poor” by David Landes. If you read it with the same precaution as philosophy (that its a starting point for insight and debate) then its a very good read and also easy (suitable for those lazy summer afternoons).Report

Lisa
Lisa
5 years ago

The Shepherd’s Life — James Rebanks aka @herdyshepherd : An ode to a form of life.Report

Henri Perron
Henri Perron
5 years ago

“A People’s History of the United States” by Howard ZinnReport

Melody
Melody
Reply to  Henri Perron
5 years ago

Seconded.Report

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
5 years ago

Economics without Illusions, by Joseph Heath. Aka Filthy Lucre in Canada. Does a great job explain some basic economics, and exposes 12 major fallacies, six that left-wing thinkers are prone to, and six that right-wing thinkers are prone to.Report

Daniel
Daniel
5 years ago

Two books relevant to the present US political situation:

1. Us Against Them: Ethnocentric Foundations of American Opinion, by Donald Kinder and Cindy Kam (Chicago Press, 2010)

2. The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy, by Suzanne Mettler (Chicago Press, 2011)

The first develops a theory of ethnocentrism, backed up by cross-cultural empirical data, and applies it to a variety of policy disputes (including the war on terror, welfare reform, foreign aid, immigration, marriage). The second explores how a shift towards pro-“free market” government subsidies and tax breaks ends up hiding its operation from the average citizen.Report

Virgina Warnlock
Virgina Warnlock
5 years ago

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and OthersReport

Spencer Case
Spencer Case
5 years ago

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World by Jay Nordlinger

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics can’t Explain the Modern World by Deirdre McCloskey

Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane by Frederick Starr

The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

And not for the faint of heart:

Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free the Empire’s Slaves by Adam Hochschild

A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power
Report

Danny Weltman
Reply to  Spencer Case
5 years ago

I haven’t read The Swerve, but I did recently read some criticism of it that I found interesting:

http://www.inthemedievalmiddle.com/2016/05/the-ethics-of-inventing-modernity.htmlReport

Sad Eyed Philosopher of the Lowlands
Sad Eyed Philosopher of the Lowlands
5 years ago

The New Jim Crow, Michelle AlexanderReport

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
5 years ago

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang
Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckert

A lot of folks here have probably already read this, but also, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America by Louis Menand.Report

Carolyn
Carolyn
5 years ago

This was recommended to me by a political scientist, and it was very interesting on a straightforward level but also simply because it is a Cold War book, with all that entails: Coming Out of the Ice by Victor Herman. It shares some similarities with Herzog’s movie, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, but is even more harrowing.Report

Tom Carson
5 years ago

Matthew Desmond’s book Evicted gives a very disturbing account of a very serious problem that causes many people great suffering

On a related note, see Neal Gabler’s “The Secret Shame of the Middle Class” Atlantic Monthly May 2016. Gabler says that nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying an unexpected bill of $400.00Report

jh
jh
5 years ago

“Good Times, Bad Times: The Welfare Myth of Them and Us” by John Hills – powerful but highly readable debunking of some common myths about the UK welfare state (that is broadly applicable to other liberal democracies).
“Social Democratic America” by Lane Kenworthy – succinct, well-supported argument for expanding the welfare state, presented in a super readable, dispassionate debate style
“Enlightenment 2.0” by Joseph Heath (and a second vote for Filthy Lucre)
“Strangers Drowning” by Larissa MacFarquhar
“Winner-Take-All Politics by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson. Their new one, “American Amnesia,” looks good too.
“The Coming of the Third Reich” by Richard EvansReport

Zone Theorist
Zone Theorist
5 years ago

Tim and Eric’s Zone Theory: 7 Easy Steps to Achieve a Perfect Life by Tim Heidecker and Eric WareheimReport

Jean
Jean
5 years ago

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, about plants, academia, and life.Report