Clark and Teachout have a great vision for the role democracy should play in people’s lives. I love to see that view represented. This book is more on the movement building side than the handbook or theory side, so it was mostly for helping me not feel alone, although there was good history and good examples.
The Communistic Societies of the United States: Economic Social and Religious Utopias of the Nineteenth Century (Dover Publications, 1966). Charles Nordhoff
My understanding is that this is a classic study of small-scale communistic societies in the 19th century. They are overwhelmingly religious separatists with leaders. Their business organizations have surprising similarities. The Shakers seemed to have a lot of trouble with embezzlement by those leaders, with about a third of communities demonstrating some past of it. A great resource, and important reminder that the promise of America was for a long time, and for many people, in its communist utopias.
A Paradise Built in Hell : The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster.
Penguin Books (2010), Rebecca Solnit,
Beautiful, creative, and powerful. I admire Solnit a lot and her message is so clear and strong. She finds a bias hidden deeply in the thinking from both the left and the right, and makes it impossible to unsee. Shortly after reading it I saw it again in the etymology of “havoc.” It’s hard to be uncompromisingly radical and even-headedly fair and lucid at the same time, but she makes it look easy and makes me feel intellectually and physically lazy for failing to make the integration of those apparent extremes look effortless. Maybe the glue is compassion? I hope she has a lot more to say about utopia.
Individual strategy and social structure : an evolutionary theory of institutions / H. Peyton Young.
An important book laying out an important theory that evolutionary game theory offers a model of cultural evolution. I disagree, and now have a better sense of why. Great history and examples. I read past all but the essential introductory formal work (aka math).
I’ll be teaching this book to help teach my class systems thinking, which is especially gratifying since she was here at Dartmouth. Meadows had a huge influence on me. In fact, my wife got a head start on it and she describes it as a user’s manual to my brain. I didn’t even know this book existed until wifey found it. It’s the best kind of posthumous book because she was almost done writing it when we (the world and, more specifically, Dartmouth) lost her.
Citizens of no place – An architectural graphic novel by Jimenez Lai
Fun, fast, a good mix of dreamy, ambitious, and wanky.
Chandler is classic noir and I’m happy to get caught up on the lit behind my favorite movies. Marlowe is as cynical, dissipated, dark, and clever as you’d want, though I’ve got to admit I like Hammett better than Chandler: he does cynical better with Spade, and dark better with the Operator, and shows through Nick and Nora that he can lighten it up with just as much fluency.
Gift from a friend, a proud German friend who took me to the restaurant in the book where the devil gives the jolly guys wine while Faust sits there disaffected and bored. I’m now recognizing that this is an important book for a scientist to read, at least for making the intellectual life romantic.
A thick volume of Mark Twain’s early work, where you get to see his voice fill out from journalism through speeches to storytelling, for which he’s now most appreciated. Amazing to see all of his contributions to English, proportional to those of the King James Bible.
Elements of Statistical Learning : Data Mining, Inference, and Prediction (New York, NY : Springer-Verlag New York, 2009). J. Friedman, T. Hastie, R. Tibshirani
Important free textbook on statistical learning. Great read too; who knew?
The evolution of primate societies (University of Chicago Press, 2012). J. C. Mitani, J. Call, P. M. Kappeler, R. A. Palombit, J. B. Silk.
Amazing exciting expansive comprehensive academic walk through the primates, how they get on, and how humans are different. It’s a big one, and a slow read, but I’m learning a ton and it’s a great background for me as both a cognitive scientist and social scientist
The origin and evolution of cultures (2005). R. Boyd, P. J. Richerson
The fruits of unifying economic, evolutionary, and anthropological thought with mathematical rigor. Great background as I teach myself more about cultural evolution and the evolution of culture.
Joseph Henrichs’ The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter
Pop book that gives an easier overview of the cultural anthro lit. He offers a big vision. Light on details, which is inly a problem for me because the claims are so strong, but that’s not what this book is for. Makes me recognize, as a cognitive scientist, that language and consciousness are a giant gaping hole in current evolutionary accounts of what makes humans different.