Essential Readings

You find here some book suggestions related to the topics covered by my blog (in order of years of publication). The list will be expanded continuously. Further recommendations are welcome.

Economics

Philosophy/Ethics

  • John Stuart Mill On Liberty (1859): it is sometimes amazing that really old books can be still highly relevant today; Mill’s essay is among those: his arguments in favour of self-scepticism, individual freedom, but also regard for the interests of society at large are compelling and much ahead of his time.
  • Albert Hirschman Shifting Involvements (1982): why are people engaging into common causes (collective action) just to focus on private life soon after that? A very interesting theory, in which I recognised myself repeatedly.
  • Jon Elster Sour Grapes: Studies in the Subversion of Rationality (1983): an unconventional philosophical-psychological analysis of rationality, both individual and social, including excursuses into political theory and economics.
  • Amartya Sen The Idea of Justice (2009): an excellent book being both a summary of decades worth of Sen’s work and the outline of a highly interesting and compelling theory of justice, which builds upon the likes of John Rawls, Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, while being a novel contribution to the subject.
  • Donald S. Maier What’s So Good About Biodiversity: A Call for Better Reasoning About Nature’s Value (2012): one of the books that I do not completely agree with but still find extremely enriching and thought-provoking.

Ecology/Environment

  • Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene (1976): a still-fascinating book about evolution and genetics, controversial for the wrong reasons, often misunderstood.
  • Pamela Roland & Raoul Adamtchak Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food (2008): the book that definitely turned me from a “Stop GMO!” activist into a “It depends” realist; shows impressively how organic agriculture can benefit from biotechnology.
  • Jonathan Safran Foer Eating Animals (2009): made me a vegetarian – ’nuff said.
  • Mark Lynas The God Species: How Humans Really Can Save the Planet (2012): another thought-provoking book, with whose author I don’t quite agree – still, Lynas’s argument in favour of far-reaching “management” of the biosphere by humans to our long-term benefit is highly interesting.

Others

  • Alvin Tofler Future Shock (1970): a fascinating account of the consequences of a clash between the ever faster developing world around us and our aversion to change; still highly relevant.
  • Jared Diamond Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997): much better than David Landes’s Wealth and Poverty of Nations, as Diamond explains differences in socio-economic development between various regions not in terms of culture (which begs another explanation a level further down), but in terms of “exogenous” factors such as ecology and geography – and he does it in an extremely convincing manner.
  • Alan Sokal & Jean Bricmont Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science (1999): the authors’ account of how postmodern thinkers write nonsense and are hyped for that is both amusing and terrifying; also, the book provides a nice introduction into some aspects of epistemology/philosophy of science.
  • Zygmunt Bauman Liquid Modernity (2000): a lucid analysis of modern society, in which we “enslave” ourselves, after having defeated the great dictatorships of the first half of 20th century.
  • Amartya Sen Identity & Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (2006): a response of sorts to Samuel Huntington’s clash of civilizations thesis; also, a highly interesting investigation into the nature of identity and the multiplicity of its sources.
  • Jared Diamond The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies? (2013): a highly interesting exercise in anthropology, including some linguistics, philosophy of religion, economics and a lot to learn from.
Advertisements

Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s