Distraction Reading

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Switching off from the 24/7 news cycle and an endless stream of online content is hard enough at the best of times. Now especially, it can feel nearly impossible to escape the anxious impulse to stay up to date with every global development. But taking time away from our screens and the news is crucial for our mental and physical health. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a reading list designed to encourage you to disconnect from your device and re-engage with radical thought, fiction, art and history that will endure beyond this crisis. 

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FICTION

A provocative bestseller from one of Norway’s most highly regarded novelists.

A lyrical debut novel from a musician and artist renowned for her sharp sexual and political imagery.

Lyrical and bawdy, experimental and political, this extraordinary novel announces the arrival of a powerful new voice on the global literary stage.

Nominated for the Man Booker International, Eka Kurniawan brings his short stories into English for the first time.

The Storyteller gathers for the first time the fiction of the legendary critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin, best known for his groundbreaking studies of culture and literature, including IlluminationsOne-Way Street and The Arcades Project.

A beautifully imagined story of love and resistance, by one of the foremost novelists of our age.

A surreal short story collection from the master of what-ifs.

UTOPIAN DREAMING

Five-hundred-year anniversary edition of More’s Utopia, with writing from major science fiction writers.

A different kind of politics for a new kind of society—beyond work, scarcity and capitalism

The manifesto—raging and wanting, quarreling and provoking—has always played a central role in feminism, and it’s the angry, brash feminism we need now. In this landmark collection spanning three centuries and four waves of feminist activism and writing, Burn It Down! is a testament to what is possible when women are driven to the edge.

From three of the organizers of the International Women’s Strike: a manifesto for when “leaning in” is not enough.

A pocket colour manifesto for a new futuristic feminism.

With racial justice struggles on the rise, a probing collection considers the past and future of Black radicalism.

An exhilarating exploration into the utopias and dystopias that could develop from present society.

A passionate call to rediscover the political and emotional joy that emerges when we share our lives.

Females is Andrea Long Chu’s genre-defying investigation into sex and lies, desperate artists and reckless politics, the smothering embrace of gender and the punishing force of desire.

RADICAL HISTORIES

How rebellious colonies changed British attitudes to empire.

A history of “the Troubles”: the radical politics of Republicanism.

A remarkable intellectual history of the slave revolts that made the modern revolutionary era.

A haunting, evocative history of British Empire, told through one woman’s family story.

The forgotten history of London: the world capital of revolution.

A radical guide to Paris through art, literature and revolution.

Recovering the history of the revolutionary Jewish tradition.

The story of the Jewish ex-servicemen who fought against Oswald Mosley after World War II.

Acclaimed fantasy author China Miéville plunges us into the year the world was turned upside down.

The transatlantic story of six radical pioneers at the turn of the twentieth century.

ART AND CINEMA

John Berger, one of the world’s most celebrated art writers, takes us through centuries of drawing and painting, revealing his lifelong fascination with a diverse cast of artists.

Landscapes, the companion volume to John Berger’s highly acclaimed Portraits, explores what art tells us about ourselves.

Essays by the iconic British filmmaker on the relationship between film, cities and landscape.

Works of Wilde’s annus mirabilis of 1891 in one volume, with an introduction by renowned British playwright.

An essential analysis of cinema from one of the great figures of French philosophy.

Feminism and cinema: providing the opportunity for a truly feminist alternative cinema in terms of film language, of reading that language and of representing the world.

All That Is Solid Melts into Airis widely acclaimed as one of the greatest books on modernity. 

A searing critique of participatory art by an iconoclastic historian.

An award-winning cultural history of how we experience the world through art, film and architecture.

Rancière’s magnum opus on the aesthetic.

MUSIC

Written in exile from Germany, this potent study of Europe’s most controversial composer explodes the frontiers of musical and cultural analysis.

A comprehensive guide to the core recordings of some of the most visionary and inspiring, subversive and radical musicians on the planet, past and present.

A leading radical intellectual tackles the many controversial interpretations of Wagner’s work.

The ultimate collection on punk and race, from the Clash to Los Crudos.

Adorno’s own selection of his essays and journalism from more than three decades of music writing.

A haunting collection of Radiohead artwork from the Grammy Award–winning artist.

ACTIVISM AND RESISTANCE

This anthology, global in scope, presents voices of dissent from every era of human history: speeches and pamphlets, poems and songs, plays and manifestos. Every age has its iconoclasts, and yet the greatest among them build on the words and actions of their forerunners. The Verso Book of Dissent should be in the arsenal of every rebel who understands that words and ideas are the ultimate weapons.

How two centuries of Indigenous resistance created the movement proclaiming “Water is life”.

A longtime movement insider's powerful account of the origins of today's protest movements and what they can achieve now.

Combining firsthand accounts from activists with the research of scholars and reflections from artists, Policing the Planet traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy, first established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton. It’s a doctrine that has vastly broadened police power the world over—to deadly effect.

RADICAL BIOGRAPHIES

A graphic novel of the dramatic life and death of German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg.

The first new work on the leading African-American singer for over a decade,  Paul Robeson: A Watched Man is a story of passionate political struggle and conviction.

Who were the Frankfurt School—Benjamin, Adorno, Marcuse, Horkheimer—and why do they matter today?

The definitive biography of Karl Marx.

CITIES

The acclaimed art fanzine’s psychogeographic drifts through a ruined city.

A narrative history of council housing—from slums to the Grenfell Tower.

Leading writers reimagine the city as a site of ceaseless change and motion.

Keller Easterling reveals the nexus of emerging governmental and corporate forces buried within the concrete and fiber-optics of our modern habitat. Extrastatecraft will change how we think about cities—and, perhaps, how we live in them.

Capital City explains the role of planners in the real estate state, as well as the remarkable power of planning to reclaim urban life.

Rousing manifesto on the city and the commons from the acclaimed theorist.

A cutting exploration of how cities drive climate change while being on the frontlines of the coming climate crisis.

What makes the city of the future? How do you heal a divided city?

In Radical Cities, Justin McGuirk travels across Latin America in search of the activist architects, maverick politicians and alternative communities already answering these questions.

A revolutionary reimagining of the cities we live in, the air above us, and what goes on in the earth beneath our feet.

DIGITAL DREAMING

It’s not capitalism, it’s not neoliberalism—what if it’s something worse?

Leading artist and writer James Bridle surveys the history of art, technology, and information systems, and reveals the dark clouds that gather over our dreams of the digital sublime.

In this urgent and revelatory excavation of our Information Age, leading technology thinker Adam Greenfield forces us to reconsider our relationship with the networked objects, services and spaces that define us.

A highly engaging tour through history in the service of emancipating our digital tomorrow.

MEMOIR AND ESSAY COLLECTIONS

An extraordinary memoir of transition and transgender politics and culture.

Against Everything is a thought-provoking study and essential guide to the vicissitudes of everyday life under twenty-first-century capitalism.

An urgent challenge to the prevailing moral order from one of the freshest, most compelling voices in radical politics today.

Essays tracing the intellectual life of a quintessential New York City writer and thinker.

WALKING AND EXPLORING

Brilliant and erudite, A Philosophy of Walking is an entertaining and insightful manifesto for putting one foot in front of the other.

A walker’s guide to Paris taking us through its past, present and possible futures.

A captivating literary portrait of the writers who explore the city at night, and the people they met.

The acclaimed, readable history of the Situationist International by the author of A Hacker Manifesto.

A darkly humorous architectural guide to the decrepit new Britain that neoliberalism built.