Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Favorite nonfiction books

Since everyone seems to be doing it, here's my dozen favorite nonfiction books (in no particular order), defined as books that changed the way I looked at the world in some fundamental way:
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals
  • James Scott, Seeing Like a State
  • Donna Haraway, Primate Visions
  • George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia
  • Paul Fussell, Class
  • Misha Glenny, McMafia
  • Mike Davis, City of Quartz
  • Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem
  • Ryszard Kapuściński, Shah of Shahs
  • Stephen J. Gould, The Mismeasure of Man
  • Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert
  • Griel Marcus, Lipstick Traces
What strikes me most about this list is that I read almost every one of these books in the 1990s. Does that mean I don't read enough any more, or simply that it's hard for a book to shake me from my preceptions?


Bill Barnes said...

Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision

William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy

Antonio Gramsci, The Prison Notebooks

E P Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class

Barrington Moore, The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy

Eric Wolf, Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century

James Scott, Weapons of the Weak

Nils said...

Of course, as soon as I posted this, I thought of several more books that really must be on this list:
- Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History
- G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of History
- Walter Benjamin, Illuminations
- Daniel Bell, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism
- Eric Wolf, Europe and the People without History
- Georges Canguilhem, The Normal and the Pathological
- Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
- Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation

hewhocutsdown said...

My five would be:

1. A Thousand Years of nonlinear History by Manuel de Landa
2. Seeing like a State by James C. Scott
3. Deviant Globalization
4. The Rebel by Albert Camus
5. Images of Organization by Gareth Morgan
6. Hatred of Democracy by Jacques Ranciere
7. The Subversion of Christianity by Jacques Ellul
8. Dancing in the Glory of Monsters by Jason Stearns.
9. War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges
10. Guns, Germs & Steel by Jared Diamond

hewhocutsdown said...

I guess that would be my ten, actually.

Nils said...

@hewhocutsdown - #3 is pure pander

hewhocutsdown said...

Honestly? It's become one of my "everybody must read this book" books. I recommend it regularly.