John's Recommendations

We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781250757975
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - August 4th, 2020

There are only a handful of books that I can point to as literally life changing, but this is one for me. I read it on a whim thinking it would be a good quick read, but then I adopted an all vegan diet before I reached the end. For me, the message of less animal based consumption as a meaningful curb on climate change was one I already agreed with, but I was never really able to connect the dots between belief and action in any practical way that made sense in my own mind. Foer's acceptance of degrees of success as well as his examination of his own internal dialogue regarding his beliefs and habits allowed me to really wrap my brain around how these ideas fit into my daily life. Less consumption of animal products is good all around for myself and the world I live in, but Foer challenged me to see to what extent I could practice that belief. It was in that attempt that I discovered my own personal motivation for making the change. None of us can save the world from climate change, but together we can all save the world from climate change. Just try a little bit less meat and dairy and really think about the consequence of your effort. For me, I like abstaining from the horrible economy that we've created around the least healthy food options imaginable. I hate giving money to corporations and I hate it when choices are made for me. Our food economy pushes us to eat the least healthy food and to buy it from corporations. No, thanks.


Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781501183089
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 15th, 2019

There are 3 things that I really like about this book. First, I like that it paints unidealized portraits of it's heroes and credits the great anti-monopolists for the important work they accomplished, but also doesn't shy away from mentioning their own contributions to the systemic racial, sexist or otherwise biggoted injustices that many either endorsed or denied. I think it's important for modern histories to give all such facts in order to present the characters of history as the flawed individuals that they often were so as not to romanticize any achievement to the point of obscuring their failures. Secondly, this book is just a good solid overview of the monopolistic tendencies of capitalism and how it butts heads with that good old American rugged individualism. Stoller presents the monopoly / anti-monopoly struggle as a tug of war which until recently managed to heave and haw back and forth to at the very least a compromise between the two if not a swatting back of the monopolists by the Americans that De Tocqueville knew and wrote about. Thirdly, I love that Stoller charts a clear path on how we got to now especially starting in the post Watergate era. Reading the latter third of the book you almost can't help but to formulate a strategy for how best to put the monopolists in their place. My biggest take away from this book is language. We have to change the way we speak about monopolies if we are ever going to have a chance at changing the culture that naively buys into the "bargain" of  "consumerism" and the "efficiencies" of "consolidation."


The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780525558330
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Published: Penguin Books - February 25th, 2020

The heart of this book is the acknowledgement of the inability of the science of economics to fully deal with the unquantifiable, intangible value of community.  Rajan shows how economic policies are too often driven by what's good for markets or the state and overlooks the people, bonds and institutions that make up any community. He cites examples and provides sound advice for realigning economic principles to not only account for values but to be driven by them. He ties current market and state solutions to our world's current state of tension and divisiveness. It's a dense read for sure, but well worth it for anyone that feels frustrated by policies that expect us to act as consumers rather than participatory citizens.


Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11 Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316341813
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Published: Back Bay Books - March 24th, 2020

In Kennedey's moonshot speech, so much of the focus is always on the inspirational sections, but I've always been a fan of the line "...
that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills ..." That line has always been the ultimate in wonder combined with the ultimate in practicality. How could we possibly accomplish something so big? You just start. It's a one step at a time sort of sentiment that really resonates for me and demonstrates that if you ever want to achieve something great, you have to teach yourself how and work with others with the same mindset. That's what this book is. It's all trial and error and persistence and sweat and action and cooperation and a little bit of straight up mental illness that culminated in an achievement that will probably remain comparatively unsurpassed for all of human time. There's a tension that exists in everyone that occurs whenever we try to solve a problem. This book captures that tension and uses it to create a very fast paced history of how we put a man on the moon. I almost wish I was eating popcorn while I read this one, it's that kind of a page tuner.


An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781119194729
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Wiley - January 19th, 2016

Wow! I almost can't even describe this book. I'm honestly going to have to reread this one a couple of times just to be able to articulate this book's message with the same elegance of vocabulary. I'll sum it up by citing the example that most resonated with me. As a small business owner it's always bothered me when politicians or government leaders or the news talks about jobs or job creation as a useful and productive measure of societal success. I don't want a job, I want a livelihood. I don't want to trade my labor for money, I want to imbue my labor with meaning and create value. That's the sort of perspective this book articulates and it does it so well that the text itself almost sounds cult like - but in a good way! Definitely a read, then think, then re-read sort of book.


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On the Road: (Penguin Orange Collection) Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780143129509
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Published: Penguin Classics - October 18th, 2016

Every teenager should read this book for its sense of adventure, fun & independence!

-John 


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Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781620401934
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Published: Bloomsbury USA - August 13th, 2013

Ross King does a fantastic job in all of his books capturing the feel of a specific place and time. This book highlights the construction of Florence's famed Duomo and puts into perspective the sheer ingenuity and genius that produced the Renaissance.

-John 


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Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780061994951
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Ecco - May 28th, 2013

An around the world tour of all of the tangible workings behind that seemingly intangible construct known as the internet. Lots of great information on where & how your news, emails and favorite adorable kitten videos are stored & transmitted to your computer monitor. Great for techies but also great for readers interested in history or just good non-fiction. No computer science degree required.

-John


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Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9780143117636
Availability: Special Order
Published: Penguin Books - June 29th, 2010

A very accessible view of how low prices actually have a very high cost in terms of individual choice and economic sustainability.

-John 


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Logicomix: An epic search for truth Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781596914520
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Published: Bloomsbury USA - October 5th, 2009

You wouldn't think that the life of a famous mathematician / philosopher would translate into a very compelling graphic novel ..... but as it turns out, it totally does!

-John 


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Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption Cover Image
$37.50
ISBN: 9780226525914
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Published: University of Chicago Press - May 15th, 2007

This book gives a great history of bookselling in the twentieth century and demonstrates how the profession of bookselling sits at a perfect crossroads between the curation of culture & commercialism. Also gives a fantastic look at consumer behavior at large and its political / sociological ramifications.

-John 


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The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780143037880
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Published: Penguin Books - September 26th, 2006

Probably the craziest / smartest book I've ever read! Find out how you could live to be a thousand and how we'll eventually organize every atom in the universe into a giant supercomputer!

-John 


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Inside the Carnival: Unmasking Louisiana Politics Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9780807131985
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Published: LSU Press - September 1st, 2006

Great overview of why Louisiana politics is Louisiana politics.

-John 


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The Stranger (Vintage International) Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780679720201
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Published: Vintage - March 13th, 1989

This is a book where you either get it .... or you don't. It's about man's submission to the absurd as told through a man condemned to die.

-John 


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Burmese Days Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780156148504
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - March 20th, 1974

Definitely my favorite work of fiction! Great historical context, wonderful writing and the best ending to any book ever!

-John