Books flow through our lives, year after year. What we read defines what we think, and vice versa. Our thinking changes probably more as a result of encountering new ideas and arguments, and less as a result of genuine insight and internal processing. Today, even the idea of a book is in transition: books become electronic files, and many of them have short life-spans.
Our attention spans become shorter as well. Books compete with websites and magazines that report news and interpret them for us, like the New York Times, the New Yorker Magazine, the London Review of Books, or Scientific American. These opinion-forming websites deliver a continuous stream of interesting articles, papers, and commentary that makes real books almost obsolete. In addition, there is an abundance of information on encyclopedic websites like Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Britannica.
So why do we still need books? Because we seek more than just information. We want to understand and discuss the deeper issues of our times, and for this, we search not only for opinions and arguments, but for books that provide good summaries, or deeper insight and analysis. Reading books is essential if we want to discover new ideas, concepts, movements, or ways of thinking. A good theory defines the way we think about a field; some books lead to paradigm shifts in our thinking.
Reading a whole book is not so easy. Having a culture of reading is a commitment to learning; it improves and transforms our thinking process and contributes to improved concentration, active imagination, as well as language capabilities. Unlike magazines, internet news or e-mails, books tell us a richer and more comprehensive story. They transport us into another world and expand horizons.
The following unsystematic reading suggestions represent only my own perspective. Many of the books listed below are not new, but I think they have lasting value.
Anthropology / Social Theory
- Scott, James C. 2017. Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States. 1 edition. Yale University Press.
- Alves, Maria Thereza, and Michael Taussig. 2019. Recipes for Survival. University of Texas Press.
- Taussig, Michael. 1987. Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing. 1 edition. University of Chicago Press.
- ———. 2010. What Color Is the Sacred? Kindle. University of Chicago Press.
- ———. 2018. Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses (Routledge Classic Texts in Anthropology). 1 edition. Routledge.
- Simondon, Gilbert. 2012. Two Lessons on Animal and Man (Univocal). Translated by Drew S. Burk. Univocal Publishing.
- ———. 2017. On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects (Univocal). Translated by Cecile Malaspina and John Rogove. 1 edition. Univ Of Minnesota Press.
- Stern, Donnel B. 2015. Relational Freedom: Emergent Properties of the Interpersonal Field (Psychoanalysis in a New Key Book Series 26). 1 edition. Routledge.
- Zondervan, Antonius A. W. Zondervan. Sociology and the Sacred: An Introduction to Philip Rieff’s Theory of Culture. Reprint edition. Place of publication not identified: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, 2016. Print
- Bateson, Gregory. 1987. “Angels Fear. Towards an Epistemology of the Sacred.” Macmillan.
- Harari, Y. N. (2015). Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (1st edition). New York: Harper. A very readable anthropological review of the history of our species.
- Gregory Bateson: Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. (University of Chicago Press, 2000).
- Temporarily Yours: Intimacy, Authenticity, and the Commerce of Sex. By: Bernstein, Elizabeth. Chicago, 2007.
- Leovy, Jill. Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America.Reprint edition. Spiegel & Grau, 2015. Print.
- Morson, Gary Saul, and Morton Schapiro. 2018. Cents and Sensibility: What Economics Can Learn from the Humanities. Reprint edition. Princeton University Press.
- Mazzucato, Mariana. 2018. The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy. Kindle. PublicAffairs.
- Chang, Ha-Joon. Economics: The User’s Guide. Reprint edition. New York; London: Bloomsbury Press, 2015. Print. He explains economic ideas and the common sense behind them. Easy to read, and very informative.
- Lewis, Michael. Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. 1 edition. W. W. Norton & Company, 2014. Print. Michael Lewis captures the moment where capitalism begins to dissolve into technology and manipulation. Corruption in its purest form.
- Wallerstein, Immanuel. World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction. 7/28/04 edition. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004. Print. Another classic book: shows how imperialism and capitalism flow together.
- Ferdowsi, Abolqasem, and Azar Nafisi. 2016. Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings (Penguin Classics). Translated by Dick Davis. Expanded edition. Penguin Classics.
- Assmann, Jan. 2005. Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Psychology / Psychotherapy
- Jain, Shaili. 2019. The Unspeakable Mind: Stories of Trauma and Healing from the Frontlines of PTSD Science. Harper.
- Boyer, Bryce L. 1836. Countertransference and Regression by Bryce L. Boyer (1998-05-01). Jason Aronson, Inc.
- Bryce Boyer, L., and Simon A. Grolnick, eds. 1987. The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, V. 12: Essays in Honor of George Devereux. 1 edition. Routledge.
- Devereux, George, and Basia Miller Gulati, trans. 1980. Basic Problems of Ethnopsychiatry. First Edition. University of Chicago Press.
- Wittmann, Marc. 2016. Felt Time: The Psychology of How We Perceive Time. Translated by Erik Butler. 1 edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
- Erich Neumann: Depth Psychology and a New Ethic. 1949. Even though this is an old book, it is worthwhile to read because it opens some important questions. The author reflects from a Jungian point of view about the ethical consequences of the unconscious. Ethics is not just the distinction between right and wrong in a narrow legalistic or moralistic sense, it requires us to rethink the foundations in light of a deeper understanding of the functioning of the human psyche.
- Henderson, Robert and Janis. 2008. Living with Jung, Vol. 2: Interviews with Jungian Analysts. Spring Journal, Inc. A look behind the scenes of Jungian psychoanalysis.
- Lasswell, Harold D. Psychopathology and Politics. Martino Fine Books, 2016. Print.
- Certeau, Michel De. Heterologies: Discourse on the Other. Trans. B. Massumi. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986. Print.
- Gane, Nicholas. The Future of Social Theory. 1 edition. London ; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2004. Print.
- Perera, Sylvia Brinton. Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women.First edition. Toronto: Inner City Books, 1989. Print.
- Nancy McWilliams: Psychoanalytic Diagnosis, Second Edition: Understanding Personality Structure in the Clinical Process 2011.
- Pope, Ken: Ethics in Psychotherapy & Counseling: A Practical Guide (5th edition), Wiley, January 26, 2016.
- Charles, Marilyn: Working with Trauma: Lessons from Bion and Lacan. 2013. Lanham, Md.: Jason Aronson, Inc.
- Parker, Ian: Psychology After Lacan: Connecting the Clinic and Research. 2014. 1 edition. London ; New York: Routledge.
- Bessel van der Kolk. 2015. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books.
- Styron, William: Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness. 1992. 1st edition. New York: Vintage. A first-person account of depression.
- Leclaire, Serge: A Child Is Being Killed: On Primary Narcissism and the Death Drive. 1998
- Bloom, Dan, and Philip Brownell. 2011. Continuity and Change: Gestalt Therapy Now. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
- Lehar, Steven M. 2013. The World in Your Head: A Gestalt View of the Mechanism of Conscious Experience. Reprint edition. Hove: Psychology Press.
- Steve Silberman: NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. 2015.
John Donvan, Caren Zucker: In a Different Key: The Story of Autism First Edition. 2016
- Bloom, Dan, and Philip Brownell. Continuity and Change: Gestalt Therapy Now.Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011. Print.
- Brownell, Philip. Gestalt Therapy: A Guide to Contemporary Practice.1 edition. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 2010. Print.
- Lehar, Steven M. The World in Your Head: A Gestalt View of the Mechanism of Conscious Experience.1 edition. Mahwah, N.J: Psychology Press, 2002. Print.
- Woldt, Ansel L., and Sarah M. Toman. Gestalt Therapy: History, Theory, and Practice.1 edition. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications, Inc, 2005. Print.
- Zizek, Slavoj. 2012. Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism. 1 edition. Verso.
- Hadot, Pierre, and Michael Chase. 2004. What Is Ancient Philosophy? New Ed edition. Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press.
- Hadot, Pierre, and Arnold I. Davidson. 1995. Philosophy As a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault. Illustrated Edition. Blackwell Pub.
- Miles, Margaret R. 2018. Recollections and Reconsiderations. Cascade Books.
- Chai, D. 2019. “Nothingness and Selfhood in the Zhuangzi.” The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Early Chinese.
- Kimhi, Irad. 2018. Thinking and Being. Harvard University Press.
- Aho, Kevin. Existentialism: An Introduction. 1 edition. Polity, 2014. Print.
- Habermas, Jürgen. 2018. Philosophical Introductions: Five Approaches to Communicative Reason. 1 edition. Polity.
- Smith, Justin E. H. 2015. Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference: Race in Early Modern Philosophy. 1 edition. Princeton University Press.
- Spaemann, Robert. Essays in Anthropology : Variations on a Theme. Ed. Guido De Graaff and James Mumford. Eugene, Or: Wipf & Stock Pub, 2010. Print.
- Spaemann, Robert: Happiness and Benevolence. Edinburgh: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2005. Print.
- Spaemann, Robert, and David L. Schindler. Love and the Dignity of Human Life: On Nature and Natural Law. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2012. Print.
- Vlastos, Gregory. 1991. Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher. 1 edition. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press.
- Wright, G. H. Von. 2004. Explanation and Understanding. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press.
- Evans, Jonathan St B. T. Thinking and Reasoning: A Very Short Introduction. 1 edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017. Print.
- Miller, David. 2013. Justice for Earthlings: Essays in Political Philosophy.Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Inwagen, Peter van. 2014. Metaphysics. 4 edition., Westview Press.
- Western Philosophy: An Anthology 2nd Edition by John G. Cottingham. 2007.
- C.C.W. Taylor: Socrates. A Very Short Introduction.
- Ruben, David-Hillel. 2012. Explaining Explanation. Second edition. Boulder: Routledge. A philosophical analysis of the concept of explanation.
- A Robert Spaemann Reader: Philosophical Essays on Nature, God, and the Human Person. 1 edition. Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.
Politics /Critical Theory
- Bilgrami, Akeel. 2014. Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment (Convergences: Inventories of the Present). Harvard University Press.
- Ferguson, Thomas. 2011. Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems (American Politics and Political Economy Series). 1 edition. University of Chicago Press.
- Koselleck, Reinhart. 2018. Sediments of Time: On Possible Histories (Cultural Memory in the Present). Edited by Sean Franzel and Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann. 1st edition. Stanford University Press.
- Schwab, -Ing Klaus. 2017. The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Kindle. Currency.
- Wallace-Wells, David. 2019. The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. Kindle. Tim Duggan Books.
- Wright, Robert, Fred Sanders, and Simon &. Schuster Audio. n.d. Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment. Simon & Schuster Audio.
- Gessen, Masha. 2017. The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia. First Edition. Riverhead Books.
- Hecht, Susanna B. 2013. The Scramble for the Amazon and the “Lost Paradise” of Euclides Da Cunha. First Edition. University of Chicago Press.
- Hecht, Susanna B., and Alexander Cockburn. 2011. The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers, and Defenders of the Amazon, Updated Edition. Updated edition. University of Chicago Press.
- Middleton, Nick. 2018. The Global Casino: An Introduction to Environmental Issues. 6 edition. Routledge.
- Mishra, Pankaj. 2017. Age of Anger: A History of the Present. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
- Shaikh, Anwar. 2016. Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crises. 1 edition. Oxford University Press.
- Appadurai, Arjun, Zygmunt Bauman, Donatella della Porta, Nancy Fraser, Eva Illouz, Ivan Krastev, Bruno Latour, et al. 2017. The Great Regression. Edited by Heinrich Geiselberger. 1 edition. Polity.
- Eisenstadt, Shmuel N. 2017. The Political Systems of Empires. 1 edition. Routledge.
- Honneth, Axel. 2016. The Idea of Socialism: Towards a Renewal. 1 edition. Polity.
- MacLean, Nancy. 2018. Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. Reprint edition. Penguin Books.
- Prashad, Vijay. 2016. The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution. 1 edition. University of California Press.
- Snyder, Timothy. 2018. The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America. First Edition. Tim Duggan Books.
- Losurdo, Domenico. 2014. Liberalism: A Counter-History. Translated by Gregory Elliott. Kindle. Verso.
- Street, John. Mass Media, Politics and Democracy: Second Edition. 2nd edition. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York: Palgrave, 2011. Print.
- Postman, Neil, and Andrew Postman. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. 20 Anv edition. New York, N.Y., U.S.A: Penguin Books, 2005. Print.
- Gore, Al. 2013. The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. First Edition. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks.
- Devji, Faisal. 2013. Muslim Zion: Pakistan as a Political Idea.Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
- Bear, Laura. 2015. Navigating Austerity: Currents of Debt along a South Asian River. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
- Cameron, David. 2016. Against Corruption: A Book of Essays. The current British Prime Minister writes about the problem of corruption, with contributions from many other politicians. This is a free Kindle book.
- Timothy Morton: Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence.(The Wellek Library Lectures) Hardcover. 2016
- Bruno Latour: Reassembling the Political. 2014. Pluto Press.
- Stuart Hall (Editor), Jessica Evans (Editor), Sean Nixon (Editor): Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. 2013.Second Edition. SAGE Publications Ltd.
- Poulantzas, Nicos, and Stuart Hall: State, Power, Socialism. London ; New York: Verso, 2014. Print.
- Keegan, John. 1994. A History of Warfare.. First Edition. New York: Vintage.
- Butler, Judith: Senses of the Subject.1 edition. New York: Fordham University Press, 2015. Print.
Environment / Life Sciences
- Doudna, Jennifer A., and Samuel H. Sternberg. 2017. A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution. Reprint edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
- Benyus, Janine M., and Alexandra Horowitz. 2014. Secret Language of Animals: A Guide to Remarkable Behavior. Kindle. Black Dog & Leventhal.
- Kelly, Kevin. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.1st edition. New York, New York: Viking, 2016. Print.
- Rees, Martin. Our Final Hour: A Scientist’s Warning. New York: Basic Books, 2004. Print.
- Romm, Joseph. Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know®. 1 edition. Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.
- Jacobs, Jane. Dark Age Ahead. Reprint edition. New York: Vintage, 2005. Print.
- —. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Reissue edition. Vintage, 2016. Print.
- Lovelock, James. The Revenge of Gaia: Earth’s Climate Crisis & The Fate of Humanity. Basic Books, 2007. Print.
- Sachs, Jeffrey D., and Ki-moon Ban. The Age of Sustainable Development. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.
- Klein, Naomi. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. Reprint edition. Simon & Schuster, 2015
- Cronon, William, Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, W. W. Norton & Company, 1996
- Freinkel, Susan, Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
- Manning, Richard, Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization, North Point Press, 2005
- McDonough, William, Michael Braungart, President Bill Clinton, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability–Designing for Abundance, North Point Press, 2013
- McNeill, J.R., Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World, W. W. Norton & Company, 2001
- Montgomery, David R., Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, University of California Press; With a New Preface edition, 2012
- Orlov, Dmitry, The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors’ Toolkit, New Society Publishers, 2013
- Stolzenburg, William, Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators, Bloomsbury USA, 2009
- Weisman, Alan, Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?, Back Bay Books, 2014
- Worster, Donald, Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas(Studies in Environment and History), Cambridge University Press; 2 edition, 1994
- Lynn Margulies: Symbiotic Planet: A New Look At Evolution. (Basic Books, 1999).
- Carlo Rovelli: “Seven Brief Lessons in Physics.” Rovelli is one of the founders of “loop quantum gravity” and one of the leaders in trying to reconcile between relativity theory and quantum mechanics, along with string theory. This book is an excellent overview of the current understanding of the universe from the point of view of a physicist.
- Albert, David Z: After Physics.Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2015. Print.
- Rovelli, Carlo. Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity. Trans. Simon Carnell and Erica Segre. 1st Edition edition. New York: Riverhead Books, 2017. Print.
- John Polkinghorne: Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction1st Edition. 2002. It is short, but not oversimplified, and explains quantum theory really well.
Theology / Spirituality
- Merton, Thomas. Mystics and Zen Masters. Reissue edition. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.
- Stace, W. T., and Huston Smith. Mysticism and Philosophy. First Paperback Edition edition. Los Angeles : New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1987.
- The Problem of Pure Consciousness: Mysticism and Philosophy by Robert K. C. Forman (Editor) Oxford University Press, 1997.
- Mysticism and Religious Traditions (Galaxy Books) 1st Edition by Steven T. Katz (Editor) Oxford University Press; 1983.
- McGinn, Bernard: The Foundations of Mysticism: Origins to the Fifth Century (The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism, Vol. 1) Paperback – April 1, 2004.
- Mysticism and Philosophy Paperback – February 1, 1987, by W.T. Stace (Author)
- Vries, Hent de. Minimal Theologies: Critiques of Secular Reason in Adorno and Levinas.Trans. Geoffrey Hale. 1st edition. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. Print.
- Purcell, Michael. Levinas and Theology. Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.
- Bateson, Gregory: Angels Fear: Towards An Epistemology Of The Sacred. Cresskill, N.J.: Hampton Press, 2004.
- Chauvet, Louis-Marie. The Sacraments – The Word of God at the Mercy of the Body. Collegeville, Minn: Pueblo Books, 2001.
- Kaufmann, Walter A. Critique of Religion and Philosophy. 3rd edition. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1979. Print.
- Bolaño, Roberto. 2013. 2666: A Novel. Translated by Natasha Wimmer. Reprint edition. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
- Yourcenar, Marguerite. 2005. Memoirs of Hadrian. Translated by Grace Frick. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
- Jonathan Balcombe: What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins. 2016
- Kanigel, Robert. 2016. The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan. Media Tie-In edition. Washington Square Press.
- Kondo, Marie. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. 1st edition. Ten Speed Press, 2014. Print.