I usually categorize the books I read into “for work” books and “for fun” books. That isn’t because the books I read for work are never fun (they often are), but because I generally read at a different pace and with a different set of purposes, depending on which kind of book I have before me. It is a rare book that I would say that I read simultaneously for work and for fun, but I recently read one that did a lovely job straddling that line for me. It was Shannon Dea’s Beyond the Binary: Thinking about Sex and Gender, and I strongly recommend it.
While most of the time that I spend thinking about sex, gender, and sexuality, I’m primarily concerned with ethical and political questions, Dea’s book brought to light a range of metaphysical issues relating to sex, gender, and sexuality in a way that unquestionably deepened my understanding, but would definitely be accessible to more novice readers as well. It is a real gem of a book – a great example of integrating empirical research, narratives, and philosophical argumentation to show that concepts relating to sex, gender, and sexuality aren’t nearly so simple as many people would like us to believe.
The transition from summer to fall is a really pleasant time of year for me – I’m back in the swing of my schedule at school, the weather is mellowing out, and I get a break from living out of a suitcase (not to complain about my travels to Chicago, Greece, Portland, and Boulder, which were all lovely). The thing I miss most about summer is all the time I get to spend reading; it was even more packed with good books than usual this year: Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Mycophilia, The Pale King, My Year of Meats, The People of the Book, Negroland: A Memoir, The Bone Clocks, and The Better Angels of Our Nature, just to name a few from my list that would be worth checking out.
But one book that deserves special mention is Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond, which was easily one of the best books I’ve read in years. Desmond sheds a penetrating light on the massive increases in American residential evictions during the past few decades, and, crucially, on the devastating, long-lasting impact evictions have on people across a broad spectrum of demographic differences. After embedding with families on both sides of the renter / landlord divide over a period of years, Desmond vividly recounts their personal narratives, carefully analyzes and clearly present massive amounts of relevant data, and even makes some recommendations for policy changes that seem our best bets for addressing the housing crisis we must all face together. I’m not alone in being blown out of the water by this book, and I can’t overstate how strongly I recommend it to, well, everyone.
When it rains, it pours! This week I actually had two book reviews published – what a weird coincidence. The second was a review of Love and Its Objects: What Can We Care For?, a collection edited by Christian Maurer, Tony Milligan, & Kamila Pacovská. I was invited to write the review for the Hypatia special issue, “Feminist Love Studies in the 21st Century,” which was guest edited by Dr. Margaret Toye and Dr. Ann Ferguson. My book review is available for free here (as are 11 others to go with the special issue). The full special issue on love is not available yet, but that is something to look forward to.
In fact, in case you didn’t know, all new Hypatia book reviews are available for free, regardless of whether you have a subscription, by visiting Hypatia Reviews Online. I worked hard on the creation of this new website back when I was the editorial assistant for the journal, and it is great to see the archive really filling up with reviews of new feminist scholarship! Even better, the new editorial team is creating podcasts of the reviews, if listening is more your style!
Just about one year ago, I started reading Adrienne Martin’s book, How We Hope: A Moral Psychology, which I had been asked to review for the journal Mind. I really enjoyed reading it, especially Martin’s dualist theory of motivation, and the book review was a good project to work on during my stay in Seattle that summer. Over these last months, I had nearly forgotten about my book review, but then I got an email this week saying that it is now available via advance access. You can read the full text here, or a pdf here. You don’t have to be a Mind subscriber to access the review for free via these links (thank you, Mind)!
I’ve never met a William Gibson book I didn’t like, and The Peripheral is no exception! I don’t feel like I can do it justice in a short post, so why don’t you take a look at Gibson’s website, which has an excerpt from the beginning of the book to get you started?
If you are (or care about) an academic, Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members is a bit of fiction that can be read quickly and that reminds one of the less savory / reasonable elements of our profession while provoking loud bursts of laughter. I strongly recommend it for a summer read!