My Current Bookshelf - September 2017

It's been another full month of reading; I'm listening to audioboks on my daily runs and bike-rides to and from work, so I'm getting in more listening.  I also went away for a weekend in early September where I got a bunch of graphic novels read (had to catch up on some Buffy!).  And while I'd love to talk oodles about the amazing trifecta of books on race (Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Karen E. Fields; Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea Ritchie; Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music by Ann Powers), I cannot because they're still in reviewing status for where I reviewed them.  But if you want the best of this month's reads go to them.  I'll write more about them in the future as I'm starting to carve out a section of posts on race and racism.  But moving along, here's what this month had to offer.  


Introducing Walter Benjamin by Howard Caygill

If you're not familiar with the Graphic Guides (also known as Introducing...), then you may be in for a treat.  They often take complex people or theory and break it down into meaningful chunks using a mixture of images, quotes, and text.  Caygill's treatment of Walter Benjamin was enjoyable if not sometimes a big challenging.  Benjamin was a strange mixture of historian, art critic, and wandering scholar.  Though for me, I always knew him for his most popular work, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," Caygill illustrates (pun intended) how this was a later work to a range of works that focused on sensemaking of artistic endeavors and their relation to the modern world (of the mid-twentieth century), an unstable world of shifting ideologies and the horrors of war.  Benjamin lived in Europe throughout the first half of the 20th century and was both Marxist and Jewish, which meant his existence in Germany would prove increasingly challenging.  The most fascinating aspect I found in this work was the wondering nature Benjamin who was never able to find a stable academic home; I tend to think that is the challenge of a great many scholars today.  The art was useful at times, illustrating the artworks or the major historical people that Benjamin interacted with.  Yet, sometimes, the images didn't serve to enhance the narrative but just seemed plopped in without explanation.  


The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin

Book Cover - Zero Marginal Cost Society by Jeremy Rifkin
Rifkin offers up a utopian view of the future that draws heavily on Chris Anderson's Free and many of the other texts out there that show us salvation awaits us in our technology.  Reading Rifkin's work now that it's been out for a few years and it does indeed feel dated.  So many of the promises that were just around the corner still seem far away.  The idealized sense that the internet will make us more collectively powerful seems lost amid the last few years of extremist politics domestically and abroad.  Massively Open Online Courses as the cure-all for alternative credentialing in higher education still seems less viable and we will somehow become increasingly sustainable through these technological breakthroughs come across as stale in a world that still cannot get the facts right about climate change.  Despite that, I would still recommend the book for anyone looking for glimmers of hope (after all, Rifkin's The Empathic Civilization helps me to frame the progress humanity has made despite what the news tells us) because there are ideas here that are worth holding onto.


Check out other reading recommendations from 2017 (and you can always look at all of my books that I've read on GoodReads):

BOOKS

  • Detox Your Writing: Strategies for Doctoral Researchers by Pat Thomson
  • The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success by Larry Machi
  • The Art of Clean Up: Life Made Neat and Tidy by Ursus Wehrli


AUDIOBOOKS

  • Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult by Bruce Handy
  • This Book is Gay by James Dawson
  • Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Karen E. Fields
  • Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea Ritchie
  • The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World In Flux by 
  • The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin
  • An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power: Your Action Handbook to Learn the Science, Find Your Voice, and Help Solve the Climate Crisis by Al Gore
  • Streampunks: YouTube and the Rebels Remaking Media by Robert Kyncl
  • Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music by Ann Powers
  • The Most Defining Moments in Black History According to Dick Gregory by Dick Gregory


GRAHPIC NOVELS
  • Introducing Walter Benjamin by Howard Caygill
  • Star Wars - Doctor Aphra by Kieron Gillen,
  • Star Wars - Poe Dameron Vol. 2 - The Gathering Storm by Charles Soule
  • Stitches by David Small
  • Everafter, Vol. 1: The Pandora Protocol by Lilah Sturges
  • Angel and Faith Season 10 Volume 5 (Angel & Faith) by Victor Gischler
  • Angel & Faith: A Little More Than Kin (Season 10, #4) by Victor Gischler
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Spread of Their Evil (Season 11, #1) by Christos Gage
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Old Demons (Season 10, #4) by Christos Gage
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Love Dares You (Season 10, #3) by Christos Gage
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In Pieces on the Ground (Season 10, #5) by Christos Gage
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Own It (Season 10, #6) by Christos Gage

What about you reader?  What book recommendations do you have for me?




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