The People’s Republic of Walmart by Leigh Phillips and Michal Rozworski
Topics: Economics, planned economies.
Lays down the argument that economic planning is all around us, contrary to the popular orthodoxies that markets are the only way to allocate scarce resources. It provides a compelling case for coming up with democratic means of economic planning and expanding it throughout our economy rather than relying on the current mechanism of having private islands of authoritarianism linked together by profit-driven markets.
Half Earth Socialism
Topics: Economics, climate change.
The goal of this book is to fill a void of utopian thought in leftist literature around climate change. It paints a picture of what a more sustainable and just economic system could look like if it were centered around human and ecological goals rather than purely profit.
A word of warning: I walked into this book thinking it would be fiction and quickly realized that two thirds are relatively dense academic analysis (mostly focusing on the viability of planned economies). If you’re interested in the topic I’d say it’s well worth the read, though if you just want to get the fictional utopian tl;dr you can probably just read through that one chapter and take in the socialist sights.
The Master Switch by Tim Wu
Topics: American media, politics
Evan Prodromou, one of the creators of the ActivityPub protocol, recommended this book on during a discussion of how Mastodon is currently a rare force of decentralization in a media platform. The book does a great job providing the history behind the cycles of centralization and decentralization of mediums in the past. I agree with Evan, the book is well worth your time.
Talking To My Daughter About The Economy by Yanis Varoufakis
Those who have read critiques of capitalism in the past may not learn many new details from this book, however the approachable way Yanis articulates economic concepts is incredibly powerful and novel. I think this book is worthwhile and entertaining for anybody to read- no matter their experience with economics.
Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber
Why is it that, as we’ve increased the amount of automation in our economy, we’re still working ourselves to death? This book gives some great arguments for why private enterprise doesn’t always offer the perfect efficiency advantages that its proponents claim.
Seeing Like a State by James C. Scott
Topics: Politics, anarchism
Inspired my post on illegibility in tech.
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
Topics: Spanish civil war, anarchism
Very interesting to hear about the experiences that would serve as the foundation for Orwell’s later novels. Also fascinating to hear a first-hand account of a perceived period of classless society formed in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.
I should mention that catalonian friends of mine dispute the accuracy of this book, but I don’t know nearly enough about the history to write anything definitive here.
Busy Doing Nothing by Rekka Bellum and Devine Lu Linvega
Link to webpage. Topics: Sailing, off-grid living, permacomputing, vegan cooking.
A travelogue of two artists sailing across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Vancouver. This book introduced me to 100 Rabbits and the Merveilles webring. and has since had a major impact on the way I think about technology’s place in the world.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
If you have even the slightest desire to open a restaurant you should probably read this book first.
Understanding Marxism by Richard D. Wolff
Topics: Economics, Marxism
A short (100 pgs) and very approachable introduction to the ideas behind Marxism. No matter how you feel about the topic, Marxist ideas have been highly influential and are worth learning a bit about.
The Secret Life of Groceries by Benjamin Lorr
Topics: Groceries, supply chains
I spend a lot of time in grocery stores, yet before reading this book I had very little understanding of how they worked. This book is a very cool dive into the underbelly of a system that you regularly interact with.
The Breakdown of Nations by Leopold Kohr
Topics: Political science, anarchism
In a nutshell, this book claims that the best way to prevent the abuse of power is to prevent its accumulation in the first place. The author argues that smaller nations make for a safer world.