Editor’s Note: let me first start by saying that I am acutely aware that it has been quite a while since my last post and while I’m currently working on a more detailed update regarding my absence – let’s just say it’s been arguably one of the worst months of my adult life; in particular because it involved a sudden feline death in the family on Valentine’s Day.
With that noted, I must also confess that this resource was originally not intended to be an article at all but rather an accessible menu page at the top of the website. Unfortunately however, technical difficulties are currently preventing me from editing the top menu bar and for the time being, the problem seems beyond my ability to solve. When I figure out why the menu edit function keeps timing out, I’ll move this page to the top menu but in the meantime, it can stay on the front page as a regular post.
Perhaps owing to the fact that I was constantly sick as a child, I have been a lifelong lover of the act of reading and books in general. Although I spent a great deal of my youth consuming fiction, my later studies naturally steered me towards non-fiction works – history, philosophy, sociology, economics and eventually left wing revolutionary thought. This fascination with reading has also been a great boon to my adult “work” as a writer and an analyst; a broad base of literary influences have provided me with a vital tool to cut through propaganda and find the kernels of truth buried inside even mainstream, corporate media coverage of world events. My open love of literature has in turn lead many readers to suggest I recommend books they should read; although I must admit that I frequently struggle to provide an adequate answer there on the spot – more often than not, I’ll simply recommend whatever I happen to have enjoyed most recently from my own library.
Sadly however, during the late fall of 2016, I had the misfortune of losing most of my cherished personal library during a move to new accommodations. My boyfriend hired helping hands to extricate us from our cramped apartment and someone managed to leave both large cases of my beloved books in the middle of the sidewalk on the busiest street in Canada. Whether the books were then stolen or merely left behind in the chaos of an admittedly arduous move, I can’t rightly say; but the end result is that only my Hunter S Thompson paperbacks (packed in with my undergarments) arrived to populate my new library. At the time of this writing, I’ve spent roughly fourteen months rebuilding my private collection and while my library is still quite meager compared to what I’m accustomed to, it’s become large enough that I need to safeguard against (re) buying the same book twice.
This page then is intended to provide both a way for me to keep track of my purchases and to offer a list of works that have helped form the basis of my thoughts, discussions and writing on a variety of subjects related to history, politics, philosophy and society. This is neither a complete list of books I’ve read (which would be long, incomplete and pretty useless in my opinion) nor have I read every book on this list; although I’ve certainly read most of them and I’m currently moving through a thorough re-read of everything in my library at a rate of roughly 250 – 400 pages a day. For organizational purposes the books are sorted alphabetically by author and contained within various sub-categories described below. Each title includes a link to the edition of the book that I own, a review written by someone outside of this website and where applicable as time allows, my own discussions about the work.
The New Avengers Collection:
Although I’m certainly as guilty as anyone of hoarding old books, there are multiple currently publishing authors whose outstanding work compels me to buy pretty much anything they put out, sight unseen. While it’s certainly important to draw from the past, the writers contained in this section are actively creating new works that are, and will remain, vitally relevant to our collective future – if you’re looking for the ideas that shape *my* ongoing understand of the world, these are the books and creators you need to be reading:
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism – Naomi Klein – Review
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate – Naomi Klein – Review
Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet – Yasha Levine – Review
Blackwater: Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army – Jeremy Scahill – Review
Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus – Matt Taibbi – Review (sorta)
Foundational Theorists Collection:
As I’ve mentioned a few times on social media, I have been reading what many would regard as left wing thought (although, I myself might simply call it “the truth”) for many many years before I discovered writers like Klein and Taibbi. This section of my library is reserved for books and authors who taught me the foundations of social science, political theory and an unrelenting commitment to perceiving the world with my eyes wide open. Unfortunately, this section suffered the most extensive losses during my fateful move and I’ve struggled to adequately replace some of the best works I used to own that unquestionably belong here; expect this collection to grow extensively over time:
The Fateful Triangle: Israel, the United States & the Palestinians (1984) – Noam Chomsky – Review
The Open Roads Collection:
Simply parsed, this section is the best of the rest; works that have at once taught me extremely important information, theories and ideas, while simultaneously being presented from points of view that I don’t necessarily agree with. While critical reading is always important, there’s more than enough truth packed inside these works to justify cutting through the varied ideologically biased lenses that knowledge is presented through here:
Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign – Jonathan Allen & Amie Parnes – Review
Finite and Infinite Games: a Vision of Life as Play & Possibility – James P. Carse – Review
Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone – Rajiv Chandrasekaran – Review
The Black Jacobins: T. L’Ouverture & the San Domingo Revolution – C.L.R. James – Review
The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade – Alfred W. McCoy – Review
The Rise & Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany – William L. Shirer – Review
Revolution Betrayed: What Is the Soviet Union & Where Is It Going? – Leon Trotsky – Review
The Thomson & Twain Collection:
If I’m prepared to claim that intellectuals like Chomsky, Said and West nourished my developing mind, it’s only fair to point out that these writers in turn nourished my soul; discovering Mark Twain at an early age helped me survive my teens, while finding my way to Hunter S. Thompson’s work just as I was getting out of high school was certainly a factor in surviving my twenties. Although both authors specialize in “fictional” works, these books (for all their problems) contain underlying messages about politics, society and injustice that still resonate with our daily experiences in the “really real” world. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing I have been unable to replace any of the Twain collections lost during my move; perhaps over time as I reacquire them, I can also add other authors who portray fact through fiction – like Upton Sinclair:
The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time – Hunter S. Thompson – Review
Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches & Essays 1852-90 – Mark Twain – Review
Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches & Essays 1891-1910 – Mark Twain – Review
As any avid collector of books already knows, it is very difficult to go through life without occasionally acquiring books you don’t particularly like, don’t personally agree with or simply haven’t had enough time to read. This problem is further magnified if, like myself, you’re a bit of a sucker for history hardcovers posted on deep discount at your local big box chain bookstore. Whether it’s a matter of taste, ideology or unfamiliarity, readers are urged to approach the books in this section with a healthy dose of skepticism and/or critical thought:
The Gravest Show on Earth: America in the Age of AIDS – Elinor Burkett – Review
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies – Jared Diamond – Review
1917: Lenin, Wilson & the Birth of the New World Disorder – Arthur Herman – Review
The Devil’s Diary: A. Rosenberg & Stolen Secrets of the 3rd Reich – D. Kinney, R.K. Wittman – Review
Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, & Civic Identity in Colonizing English America – Christopher Tomlins – Review
- Nina Illingworth