Recommended Reading: 2023 Book List

Dana PenriceArticles, Book Reviews

The Human Venture publishes a list of books and other resources annually. The list includes books that were either drawn on through the year to support our ongoing explorations and programming or were acquired in recognition that they filled a gap and could be useful in the future. The Human Venture community has read (or re-read) all of the books on this list and found them to be an important resource to extend our understanding of human venture development that supports our flourishing as a species and counter venture paths that are leading to cultural decay. Films and documentaries are also included on the list. 

About the 2023 Book List: 

You may have noticed that we missed producing a 2022 book list. With Ken Low’s passing, we have been attending to many things including building the skills for the curation of the annual book list. Ken considered the process of creating book lists as an important skill in Human Learning Ecology

Books cover territories of human meaning making and understanding. Not only can we gain new knowledge from books, they can tell us something about what people find significant. Did you know there are over 60,000 books written about the American Civil War? You can imagine that in this vast pool of books that there is a range in quality of these books. There are varying levels of scope taken into account, from stories of individuals to explanations of military grand strategies. There are differences in the breadth of what they cover. Some may focus on the characters of the political leaders, some on military uniforms or cooking, some on specific events such as accounts from the Andersonville prison camp. There are books that are more comprehensive or accurate than others. And of course there would be a range of skills and understanding among the authors. But if you read many books on the Civil War, even if you scanned a whole bunch of the titles and table of contents, you could get a good understanding of the subject field and the significant aspects to pay attention to when learning about it.

So, this 2023 list is picking up the ritual from where Ken left off. We are collectively working to deepen our skills for discovering, assessing, categorizing, reviewing, and recommending books, films and other resources that will help us further our understanding of progress and resistance in the development of human and life systems. 

Thoughtscape Fallibility and Limits 
  • “Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well” by Douglas Stone; Penguin Books, 2015.
  • “Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention–and How to Think Deeply Again” by Johann Hari; Crown, 2022.
  • “The Status Game: On Human Life and How to Play It” by Will Storr; William Collins, 2022. 
Systems Thinking
  • “Change: How to Make Big Things Happen” by Damon Centola; John Murray, 2022. 
Leadership & Orienting Stories
  • “The Reason You Walk: A Memoir” by Wab Kinew; Penguin Canada, 2017. 
Identity & Polarization
  • “Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World” by Naomi Klein; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023. 
  • “The Persuaders: At the Front Lines of the Fight for Hearts, Minds, and Democracy” by Anand Giridharadas; Vintage, 2022. 
  • “Left Is Not Woke” by Susan Neiman; Polity, 2023. 
  • “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right” by Jane Mayer Anchor, 2017. 
Structural Violence, Systemic Racism and Sexism
  • “His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice” by Robert Samuels; Viking, 2022. 
  • “Truth Telling: Seven Conversations about Indigenous Life in Canada” by Michelle Good; HarperCollins Publishers, 2023. 
  • “She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement” by Jodi Kantor; Penguin Books, 2020.
Conflict & War
  • Course: The Making of Modern Ukraine taught by Timothy Snyder, Yale, 2022
  • “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” by Timothy Snyder; Basic Books, 2022. 
  • “Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland” by Christopher R. Browning; Harper Perennial, 2017. 
  • “You Don’t Know What War Is: The Diary of a Young Girl from Ukraine” by Yeva Skalietska; Union Square & Co., 2022.
  • “On This Day in History Sh!t Went Down” by James Fell; Bantam, 2023. 
Societal & Species Level Adaptive Positioning Challenges
  • “Superorganism: Toward a New Social Contract for Our Endangered Species (Elements in Applied Evolutionary Science)” by Peter A. Corning; Cambridge University Press, 2023. 
  • “How the World Really Works: A Scientist’s Guide to Our Past, Present and Future” by Vaclav Smil; Viking, 2022. 
  • “Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast” by John Vaillant; Knopf Canada, 2023. 
  • “Reimagining Fire: The Future of Energy (The Uproute Every River Lit Series)” by Eveline Kolijn and others including our own Mark Hopkins!!!; UpRoute, 2023. 
  • “Pandora’s Seed: Why the Hunter-Gatherer Holds the Key to Our Survival” by Spencer Wells; Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2011. 
Natural & Planetary Systems
  • “An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us” by Ed Yong; Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2023.
  • “The Human Cosmos: Civilization and the Stars” by Jo Marchant; Dutton, 2021. 
  • “Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive” by Philipp Dettmer;  Random House, 2021
Graphic Communication
  • “Beautiful Evidence” by Edward R. Tufte; Graphics Press, 2006. 
Truth & Misinformation
  • “Conspirituality: How New Age Conspiracy Theories Became a Health Threat” by Derek Beres; PublicAffairs, 2023.
  • “Foolproof: Why Misinformation Infects Our Minds and How to Build Immunity” by Sander van der Linden; W. W. Norton & Company, 2023. 
Artificial Intelligence
  • “The Coming Wave: Technology, Power, and the Twenty-first Century’s Greatest Dilemma” by Mustafa Suleyman; Crown, 2023. 
  • More to come on this topic in 2024.