Reading List

10 Books Every Student Should Read!

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The start of the academic year has got us thinking about the books that transformed our thinking; classics from across our publishing that we think should be on everyone's bookshelves.

Whether you are just starting out, or your student days are far behind you, here is a definitive list of books that you need to read: all 50% off for the month of September. 

See all our student reading here!

The full magnitude of Benedict Anderson’s intellectual achievement is still being appreciated and debated. Imagined Communities remains the most influential book on the origins of nationalism, filling the vacuum that previously existed in the traditions of Western thought. Cited more often than any other single English-language work in the human sciences, it is read around the world in more than thirty translations.

"A volume of Adorno is equivalent to a whole shelf of books on literature."—Susan Sontag

A reflection on everyday existence in the 'sphere of consumption of late Capitalism', this work is Adorno's literary and philosophical masterpiece.

How did the dynamic economic system we know as capitalism develop among the peasants and lords of feudal Europe?

In The Origin of Capitalism, a now-classic work of history, Ellen Meiksins Wood offers readers a clear and accessible introduction to the theories and debates concerning the birth of capitalism, imperialism, and the modern nation state.

No other country and no other period has produced a tradition of major aesthetic debate to compare with that which unfolded in German culture from the 1930s to the 1950s. In Aesthetics and Politics the key texts of the great Marxist controversies over literature and art during these years are assembled in a single volume. They do not form a disparate collection but a continuous, interlinked debate between thinkers who have become giants of twentieth-century intellectual history.

Historian and political thinker Ellen Meiksins Wood argues that theories of “postmodern” fragmentation, “difference,” and con-tingency can barely accommodate the idea of capitalism, let alone subject it to critique. In this book she sets out to renew the critical program of historical materialism by redefining its basic concepts and its theory of history in original and imaginative ways, using them to identify the specificity of capitalism as a system of social relations and political power. She goes on to explore the concept of democracy in both the ancient and modern world, examining its relation to capitalism, and raising questions about how democracy might go beyond the limits imposed on it.

The three-volume text by Henri Lefebvre is perhaps the richest, most prescient work about modern capitalism to emerge from one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers and is now available for the first time in one complete volume. Written at the birth of post-war consumerism, Critique was an inspiration for the 1968 student revolution in France. It is a founding text of cultural studies and a major influence on the fields of contemporary philosophy, geography, sociology, architecture, political theory and urbanism. Lefebvre takes as his starting point and guide the "trivial" details of quotidian experience: an experience colonized by the commodity, shadowed by inauthenticity, yet remaining the only source of resistance and change. This is an enduringly radical text, untimely today only in its intransigence and optimism.

This book–one of our Back to University bestsellers–offers the first global cartography of the expanding intellectual field of critical contemporary thought. A panoramic account of the world’s leading writers and thinkers; more than thirty authors and intellectual currents of every continent are presented in a clear and succinct manner. A history of critical thought in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is also provided, helping situate current thinkers in a broader historical and sociological perspective.

One of America’s most historic political trials is undoubtedly that of Angela Davis. Opening with a letter from James Baldwin to Davis, and including contributions from numerous radicals such as Black Panthers George Jackson, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins, this book is not only an account of Davis’s incarceration and the struggles surrounding it, but also perhaps the most comprehensive and thorough analysis of the prison system of the United State.

With race and the police once more burning issues, this classic work from one of America’s giants of black radicalism has lost none of its prescience or power.

Nancy Fraser’s classic work traces the feminist movement’s evolution since the 1970s and anticipates a new—radical and egalitarian—phase of feminist thought and action. Fraser argues for a reinvigorated feminist radicalism able to address the global economic crisis. Feminism can be a force working in concert with other egalitarian movements in the struggle to bring the economy under democratic control, while building on the visionary potential of the earlier waves of women’s liberation. This powerful new account is set to become a landmark of feminist thought.

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer are the leading figures of the Frankfurt School and this book is their magnum opus. Dialectic of Enlightenment is one of the most celebrated works of modern social philosophy and continues to impress in its wide-ranging ambition.

A classic of twentieth-century thought, charting how society devours itself through the very rationality that was meant to set it free.

Bonus Books! 

All these books are 50% off for the month of September. See all our reading lists (and further info) here!

See all our student reading (and full T&Cs) here!