Summer reading list – actual

In the Spring, I posted a list of books I was planning to read over the summer. (The mental list was more ambitious, but I accidentally hit “publish” before it was actually done.) Classes at Acadia start tomorrow, so “summer” is pretty much over. Here is what actually happened, with capsule reviews of (some of) the things I read.

Checked off the list:

  • Julie Schumacher, Dear Committee. As funny as I had hoped it would be… but probably only funny to those who live/work in univerisities.
  • Howard Epstein, Rise Again. Like most if not all political insiders’ accounts, it’s primary purpose is self-vindication. Although Epstein himself is always the hero, the account of the NS NDP and its term in power is balanced, and holds lessons that may be important federally if the NDP does well in this Fall’s election.
  • Shellenberger & Nordhaus, “Ecomodernist Manifesto” – not actually a book, more of a pamphlet. As with their previous manifesto, “Death of Environmentalism,” EM is by turns insightful and wrong-headed/annoying. More on that in a separate post, I hope.
  • David Carr, The Night of the Gun. Carr’s journey from crack addict to NY Times media critic is kind of incredible… As in literally not believable.  Not trusting his own memory (for good reasons) Carr takes on the investigative journalist assignment of excavating his own past. Carr is also one of the main protagonists in the documentary Page One, which we watched in my mass media class last winter (just after Carr died suddenly in February). While the book insistently and reliably asserts the unreliability of narrators (and not just crack-addicted ones), in the film Carr repeatedly makes a powerful case for the Times as something like the last best hope for an objective view of our world. Book and documentary both recommended.

On the list, but didn’t get read:

  • Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything. I think this is one of those books that will remain on my “oh yeah I should read that” list, but I may not ever read. There are a lot of books on that list. Life is short and lots of people keep writing.
  • John Meyer, Engaging the Everyday. I regret not getting to this. Probably won’t in the fall, but look for it on my “sabbatical reading list” post in January.
  • Matthew Gandy, The Fabric of Space: Water, Modernity, and the Urban Imagination. Same as above.

Not on the list, but did get read:

  • Peter Clancy, Freshwater Politics in Canada. Reviewed this for the journal Environmental Politics. Review should be out soon-ish.
  • Michel Hogue, Metis and the Medicine Line. I’ve been looking for an accessible book that talks about state formation in Canada, for my intro politics course. Hogue’s book is a bit long on historical detail for my purposes, but unsettles enough assumptions about borders, sovereignty, and “race” to make it worthwhile. I’m assigning it this Fall.
  • Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern. I have the germ of an idea about how to think about the Anthropocene, that involves riffing off the title of Latour’s book: we have never been human. Can’t say too much more about it, but the fact that I have now actually read this 1993 book means maybe I will read This Changes Everything some day.
  • Ivany commission, “Now or Never” report. See post.
  • David Duchovny, Holy Cow. X-Files and Californication star writes a novel about animal (self-)liberation from the perspective of a cow. Deeply weird. Sometimes but not always in a good way.
  • William Gibson, The Peripheral. Actually read this in the winter/spring, but feel the need to publicly recommend it. It takes a while to get your bearings in it and figure out what is going on, but other than the conceit about time travel, there is so much thoughtful speculation about a realistic near future: civilizational descent, bodily avatars as communication media, and more. It had my head buzzing for a while.
  • Steven Hayward, To Dance the Beginning of the World. Short story collection by my good friend, Critical Karaoke host, and sometime collaborator (here and here), which deserves its own post. For Steve, I will just say here that the book arrived like a brick to shatter the complacency of the present.
  • David Graeber, The Utopia of Rules. I picked this up from the local bookstore just before leaving on vacation, because Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me wasn’t in. Not really a cohesive argument (insert joke about anarchists here), and the title doesn’t really get explained until the last 20 pages or so, but it has a lot of interesting and thoughtful reflections on the rise of bureaucracy, especially (and somewhat counter-intuitively) under neoliberalism.

And, thanks to the New Books in Critical Theory podcast, and time alone in a car driving about 2000 km over two days, I have learned about (or “read” in a Bayard-ian sense):

  • Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects
  • William Connolly, The Fragility of Things
  • Stacey Alaimo, Bodily Natures
  • Nancy Fraser, Transnationalizing the Public Sphere
  • Sam Friedman, Comedy and Distinction
  • Joe Deville, Lived Economies of Default
  • Martin Shuster, Autonomy after Auschwitz
  • Christian Fuchs, Culture and Economy in the Age of Social Media

Plus: 1 PhD dissertation, 1 application for promotion to professor (external reviewer for another university), 1 grant application, a couple of dozen job applications, a few thesis chapters or parts thereof, uncounted journal articles, memos, book reviews, blog posts, longreads… 


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