I can't remember how it was that I ended up picking up this book, but it quickly became one that I couldn't put down. Malm's text is comprehensive and thorough, but (for me at least) what is most rewarding about the book is that it offers a pretty substantial re-imagining of a history that I thought I knew, and it does so by focusing on transformations in the spaces of production.
Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming
Empire of Cotton: A Global History
I came across this book over the winter when looking for readings to assign for my Economics and Society class. I finally got around to reading it and it is fantastic. I might even use it as a base text to structure the whole class next spring. With each iteration that class is becoming more and more of a heterodox economics/history of capitalism class than a straight-up econ class. I think it's a whole lot more interesting that way, and this book helps to demonstrate many of the reasons why it's also more relevant that way too.
The Beach Beneath the Street:
The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International
I picked this up on a whim when Verso had one of its ridiculous sales on ebooks. I can't stress how important the Situationists were to me when I was in architecture school. I devised and designed my thesis project with both Debord and Constant on my mind. But since then, I've largely left their emancipatory visions behind. Recently, however, I've been thinking about a new design project, and it's nice to have a fresh take on the people and ideas that so influenced me almost twenty (Gulp!) years ago.
The Happiness Industry:
How the Government and Big Business Sold us Well-Being
I just started reading this on the train yesterday. It's the second book in a row by a William, and the second in a row that is both entertaining and deeply unsettling. So far, it's like an economic sociologist's research monograph written in the style of a Seinfeld episode. That's not to say it's a book about nothing. Far from it. Rather, as I read it I find I'm laughing, or at least shaking my head at the absurdity of it all, but it generates a great deal of dis-ease and anxiety for me at the same time.
Gibson's dark narrative of an encounter between the worlds of two different time periods is as entertaining as it is unsettling. Reading it I moved between fascination with the worlds that Gibson created and a deep discomfort with how totally plausible many of the book's darker scenes were. It was the perfect book to start the summer with.
Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things
I’m still just cracking the surface, but I figured as well that I should start trying to put my thoughts on readings up on the site—to use this place as I had initially intended it to be used.
Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century
Crary's book offers up a way of discussing—through a historical lens—the power of the things that make and are made by certain forms of knowing and being.