Reading List

2021 End of Year Highlights

Unnamed-3-

Check out our highlights from 2021, featuring a call for police abolition, a history of Sicily, a collection of punky sci-fi stories, two new books on the caring economy, a polical history of space exploration, essays from Vivian Gornick, and two new books from climate scholar Andreas Malm.

All our books are 40% off until January 4th, as part of our End of Year sale. Browse more reading lists here!

In this lyrical manifesto, noted climate scholar (and saboteur of SUV tires and coal mines) Andreas Malm makes an impassioned call for the climate movement to escalate its tactics in the face of ecological collapse. We need, he argues, to force fossil fuel extraction to stop—with our actions, with our bodies, and by defusing and destroying its tools. We need, in short, to start blowing up some oil pipelines.

In this elegant, searching book—spanning science and popular culture; pornography and literature; debates on Me-Too, consent and feminism—Katherine Angel challenges our assumptions about women’s desire. Why, she asks, should they be expected to know their desires? And how do we take sexual violence seriously, when not knowing what we want is key to both eroticism and personhood?

Persuasively argued and lyrically charged, A World without Police offers concrete strategies for confronting and breaking police power, as a first step toward building community alternatives that make the police obsolete.

Breaking Things at Work is an innovative rethinking of labour and machines, leaping from textile mills to algorithms, from existentially threatened knife cutters of rural Germany to surveillance-evading truckers driving across the continental United States. Mueller argues that the future stability and empowerment of working-class movements will depend on subverting these technologies and preventing their spread wherever possible.

In Everything and Less, acclaimed critic Mark McGurl discovers a dynamic scene of cultural experimentation in literature. Its innovations have little to do with how the novel is written and more to do with how it’s distributed online. On the internet, all fiction becomes genre fiction, which is simply another way to predict customer satisfaction.

The first English-language publication of the work of Izumi Suzuki, a legend of Japanese science fiction and a countercultural icon.

Mitchell Dean and Daniel Zamora examine the full historical context of the turn in Foucault’s thought, which included studies of the Iranian revolution and French socialist politics, through which he would come to appreciate the possibilities of autonomy offered by a new force on the French political scene that was neither of the left nor the right: neoliberalism.

* PLEASE NOTE: THIS BOOK IS NOT PUBLISHED BY VERSO IN NORTH AMERICA

Derecka Purnell confronts the history of policing as a means to capture runaway slaves and uphold white supremacy, a practice persisting today in the policing and murder of Black people, poor people, and disabled people on modern city streets. She argues that the worst of policing is the purpose of policing and that we need new systems to address the root causes of violence.

Becoming Abolitionists will inspire readers to create new communities where safety, equality, and real justice for all can thrive.

In this fascinating account of the island from the earliest times to the present day, author and journalist Jamie Mackay leads us through this most elusive of places. From its pivotal position in the development of Greek and Roman mythology, and the beautiful remnants of both the Arab and Norman invasions, through to the rise of the bandits and the Cosa Nostra, The Invention of Sicily charts the captivating culture and history of Sicily.

The occupation of Afghanistan is over, and a balance sheet can be drawn. These essays on war and peace in the region reveal Tariq Ali at his sharpest and most prescient.

This collection, contains the most representative and illuminating selection of his work over a twenty-year period, showing the richness and the multi-dimensional nature of his thought. Included in these pages are aphorisms and townscapes, esoteric meditation and reminiscences of childhood, and reflections on language, psychology, aesthetics and politics.

Planet on Fire is an urgent manifesto for a fundamental reimagining of the global economy. It offers a clear and practical road map for a future that is democratic and sustainable by design. Laurie Laybourn-Langton and Mathew Lawrence argue that it is not enough merely to spend our way out of the crisis; we must also rapidly reshape the economy to create a new way of life that can foster a healthy and flourishing environment for all.

In Silicon Values, leading campaigner Jillian C. York looks at how our rights have become increasingly undermined by the major corporations’ desire to harvest our personal data and turn it into profit. She also looks at how governments have used the same technology to monitor citizens and threatened our ability to communicate.

With the verve and bite of Ottessa Moshfegh and the barbed charm of Nancy Mitford, Marlowe Granados’s stunning debut brilliantly captures a summer of striving in New York City.

No one personified the age of industry more than the miners. The Shadow of the Mine tells the story of King Coal in its heyday—and what happened to mining communities after the last pits closed.

Highlighting the complexity of hierarchical systems and their implications for political coalitions, The Rise and Decline of Patriarchal Systems sets a new feminist agenda for the twenty-first century.

Combining family memoir, literary observation, and social commentary, Liang’s by turns lyrically poetic and movingly raw investigation into the fate of her village became a bestselling book in China and brought her fame.

In this brilliant history of a dangerous idea, Stuart Jeffries tells a narrative that starts in the early 1970s and still dominates our lives today. He tells this history through a riotous gallery that includes, among others: David Bowie, the iPod, Madonna, Jeff Koons’s the Nixon Shock, Judith Butler, Las Vegas, Margaret Thatcher, Grand Master Flash, I Love Dick, the RAND Corporation, the Sex Pistols, Princess Diana, Grand Theft Auto, Jean Baudrillard, Netflix, and 9/11.

By turns lyrical, meditative, and heart-stoppingly suspenseful, this debut novel by Joseph Andras, based on the true story of a young man named Fernand Iveton (and a young politician named François Mitterrand), was a literary and political sensation in France, winning the Prix Goncourt for First Novel and being acclaimed by Le Monde as “vibrantly lyrical and somber” and by the journal La Croix as a “masterpiece.”

This book thus merges ideas and representations by devoting an equal importance to theoretical and iconographic sources, offering for our troubled present a new intellectual history of the revolutionary past.

A spirited critique of the cultural politics of sightseeing. Or, why we are all tourists who hate tourists.

In this elegant book, Erik Olin Wright has distilled decades of work into a concise and tightly argued manifesto analysing the varieties of anti-capitalism, assessing different strategic approaches, and laying the foundations for a society dedicated to human flourishing. How to Be an Anticapitalist is an urgent and powerful argument for socialism, and a unparalleled guide to help us get there. Another world is possible.

What is to be done to create a planet where a communist horizon offers a new dawn to replace our planetary twilight? What does it mean to be a communist after we have hit a climate tipping point?

In this groundbreaking book, Emma Dowling charts the multi-faceted nature of care in the modern world, from the mantras of self-care and what they tell us about our anxieties, to the state of the social care system. 

Considering nonviolence as an ethical problem within a political philosophy requires a critique of individualism as well as an understanding of the psychosocial dimensions of violence. Butler draws upon Foucault, Fanon, Freud, and Benjamin to consider how the interdiction against violence fails to include lives regarded as ungrievable. 

A lyrical and haunting depiction of American racial violence and lynching, evoked through stunning full-color artwork.

In the first study of the far right’s role in the climate crisis, White Skin, Black Fuel presents an eye-opening sweep of a novel political constellation, revealing its deep historical roots. Fossil-fuelled technologies were born steeped in racism. No one loved them more passionately than the classical fascists. 

This urgent and timely book shows what a shorter working week means in the context of capitalist economies and delves into the history of this idea as well as its political implications. 

Written with the sensibility of a political theorist and based on extensive research into a wide range of sources, from Islamic jurisprudence to popular recruitment videos, contemporary apocalyptic literature and the Islamic State's Arabic-language publications, the book explores modern jihad as an image of a potential dark future already heralded by neoliberal modes of life. 

Based on years of wide-ranging research, Cockburn lays bare the ugly reality of the largest military machine in history: squalid, and at the same time terrifyingly dangerous.

For nearly fifty years, Vivian Gornick’s essays, written with her characteristic clarity of perception and vibrant prose, have explored feminism and writing, literature and culture, politics and personal experience. Drawing on writing from the course of her career, Taking a Long Look illuminates one of the driving themes behind Gornick’s work: that the painful process of understanding one’s self is what binds us to the larger world.

In this classic work Engels argued that matriarchal communal societies had been overthrown by class society and its emphasis on private, not communal, property and monogamous, rather than polygamous, sexual organisation. This historical development constituted “the world-historic defeat of the female sex.”

A critically acclaimed analysis of anti-Muslim racism from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries, in a fully revised and expanded second edition.

We are told that the future of work will be increasingly automated. Algorithms, processing massive amounts of information at startling speed, will lead us to a new world of effortless labour and a post-work utopia of ever expanding leisure. But behind the gleaming surface stands millions of workers, often in the Global South, manually processing data for a pittance.

The Great Adaptation tells the story of how scientists, governments and corporations have tried to deal with the challenge that climate change poses to capitalism by promoting adaptation to its consequences, rather than combating its causes. 

In case studies dealing with everything from automation and migration to explosive urban growth and atmospheric changes, Medium Design looks not to new technologies for innovation but rather to sophisticated relationships between emergent and incumbent technologies.

The European Union is a political order of peculiar stamp and continental scope, its polity of 446 million the third largest on the planet, though with famously little purchase on the conduct of its representatives. Sixty years after the founding treaty, what sort of structure has crystallised, and does the promise of ever closer union still obtain?

A health check on our corrupt and broken political system by one of our finest historians.

In this exciting, innovative work, Polish feminist philosopher Ewa Majewska proposes a specifically feminist politics of antifascism. Mixing theoretical discussion with engaging reflections on personal experiences, Majewska proposes what she calls “counterpublics of the common” and “weak resistance,” offering an alternative to heroic forms of subjectivity produced by neoliberal capitalism and contemporary fascism.

From here to utopia. New directions in political theory.

"Well sourced and artfully crafted, offering a comprehensive history of India’s ideology” – Jacobin

The ubiquitous nature and political attraction of the concept of order has to be understood in conjunction with the idea of police. Since its first publication, this book has been one of the most powerful and wide-ranging critiques of the police power.

Many societies have imagined going to live in space. What they want to do once they get up there—whether conquering the unknown, establishing space “colonies,” privatising the moon’s resources—reveals more than expected. In this fascinating radical history of space exploration, Fred Scharmen shows that often science and fiction have combined in the imagined dreams of life in outer space, but these visions have real implications for life back on earth.

Twenty-four economists discuss how they promote egalitarianism, democracy and ecological sanity through research, activism, and policy engagement.

In Feminist City, through history, personal experience and popular culture Leslie Kern exposes what is hidden in plain sight: the social inequalities built into our cities, homes, and neighborhoods. Kern offers an alternative vision of the feminist city.

Narrating some lesser known episodes from the deep history of digital machines, Alexander Galloway explains the technology that drives the world today, and the fascinating people who brought these machines to life. 

David McDermott Hughes examines that anti-industrial, anti-corporate resistance, drawing on his time spent conducting field research in a Spanish village surrounded by wind turbines.

The story of how enslaved women struggled for freedom in the West Indies.

At a time when the decisions of experts are presented as the result of icy statistics and anonymous calculations, disobeying becomes an assertion of humanity. To philosophise is to disobey. This book is a call for critical democracy and ethical resistance.

Written with generosity and humour Daring to Hope recreates grassroots networks, communal houses and squats, bringing alive a shared impetus to organise collectively and to love without jealousy or domination. It conveys the shifts occurring in politics and society through kernels of personal experience. The result is a book about liberation in the widest sense.

The fossil fuel industry must come to an end but will not depart willingly; governments must intervene. By embracing a politics of rural-urban coalitions and platform governance, climate advocates can build the political power needed to nationalize the fossil fuel industry and use its resources to draw carbon out of the atmosphere. 

Bigger than Bernie offers unmatched insights into the people behind the most unique campaign in modern American history and a clear-eyed sense of how the movement can sustain itself for the long haul.

The classic text, with a new introduction by Anthony Barnett.

Nunes redefines the terms of organisational theory, and argues that organisation must be understood as always supposing a diverse ecology of different initiatives and organisational forms.

Further reading

The Year in 10 Books: from abolition to a manifesto for the age of environmental breakdown, we bring you 10 books that have defined this momentous year.

40% off all our books! See more here

Radical Futures: books to help us re-imagine new futures

Related Books