100 books like A Grammar of Motives

By Kenneth Burke,

Here are 100 books that A Grammar of Motives fans have personally recommended if you like A Grammar of Motives. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time

Michael Zakim Author Of Accounting for Capitalism: The World the Clerk Made

From my list on modern capitalist economy.

Who am I?

As both a scholar and a citizen I have spent my adult life seeking to better understand the dynamics of power, especially power wielded in flagrantly unjust fashion in societies otherwise founded on notions of life, liberty, and happiness for all. This has led me to study the history of the economy, not just as a material but as a cultural system that encodes the categories of modern life:  self and society, private and public, body and soul, and needs and desires.

Michael's book list on modern capitalist economy

Michael Zakim Why did Michael love this book?

The Great Transformation, in which Karl Polanyi explores “the political and economic origins of our time,” is arguably the most important history of the economy ever written. 

Polanyi published his study during the dark times of the twentieth century in an attempt to trace the origins of modern fascism (a task that has lost none of its relevance in the twenty-first century). He located those origins in the industrial transformation of land, labor, and money – the foundations of social existence – into full-fledged commodities, that is to say, into ephemeral vehicles of profit. 

The resulting market society, touted by liberals as the source of universal freedom and equality, brought personal and communal disaster for those less advantageously positioned to compete in the new economy. The price, Polanyi argues, has been catastrophic.

By Karl Polanyi,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Great Transformation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic work of economic history and social theory, Karl Polanyi analyzes the economic and social changes brought about by the "great transformation" of the Industrial Revolution. His analysis explains not only the deficiencies of the self-regulating market, but the potentially dire social consequences of untempered market capitalism. New introductory material reveals the renewed importance of Polanyi's seminal analysis in an era of globalization and free trade.


Book cover of The Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages, 950-1350

Frederick Kaufman Author Of The Money Plot: A History of Currency's Power to Enchant, Control, and Manipulate

From my list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin.

Who am I?

I am an English professor, and for the past decade I’ve focused my attention on the fiction that is money. I’ve also been a magazine writer for many years and came to money by a circuitous route through writing about food, which led to writing about global hunger, which in turn led to writing about how food gets its price, which finally and lastly led me to the strange ways of Wall Street – options, futures, and the idea that money can be manipulated into a story, a narrative, or as we say in English departments, a plot.

Frederick's book list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin

Frederick Kaufman Why did Frederick love this book?

This is an academic book, but don’t let it scare you. As for me – it blew my mind! I had no idea of the level of economic sophistication and advance of Medieval Europe. Lopez explains in extraordinary detail the time period when our modern conception of money—as debt, as mortgage, as loans, and as an international object of commerce—was born.

By Robert S. Lopez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages, 950-1350 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Professor Robert Lopez provides an incisive analysis of the economic structure of the Middle Ages. He makes use of modern economic concepts to explain how an underdeveloped economic system gave birth to the commercial revolution through which Europe succeeded in developing itself. The book goes far beyond the familiar picture of medieval European society, with its magnificent cathedrals and imposing castles, to concentrate instead on the walled cities and open countryside, for it was here that the revolution was born. Deftly and concisely, Professor Lopez traces the history of this remarkable economic upheaval which saw the rise of merchants and…


Book cover of Rabbit Is Rich

Frederick Kaufman Author Of The Money Plot: A History of Currency's Power to Enchant, Control, and Manipulate

From my list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin.

Who am I?

I am an English professor, and for the past decade I’ve focused my attention on the fiction that is money. I’ve also been a magazine writer for many years and came to money by a circuitous route through writing about food, which led to writing about global hunger, which in turn led to writing about how food gets its price, which finally and lastly led me to the strange ways of Wall Street – options, futures, and the idea that money can be manipulated into a story, a narrative, or as we say in English departments, a plot.

Frederick's book list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin

Frederick Kaufman Why did Frederick love this book?

This is a novel from the “go-go ‘80s,” and delivers an insight into the money culture of modern middle class America. It’s a deep, comedic, and sad story of marriage, sex, gold, and dollars. The subtle characterizations gave me a strong sense of the human side of money, its emotional weight and valence—indeed, its pathos.

By John Updike,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rabbit Is Rich as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award
 
The hero of John Updike’s Rabbit, Run, ten years after the events of Rabbit Redux, has come to enjoy considerable prosperity as the chief sales representative of Springer Motors, a Toyota agency in Brewer, Pennsylvania. The time is 1979: Skylab is falling, gas lines are lengthening, and double-digit inflation coincides with a deflation of national self-confidence. Nevertheless, Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom feels in good shape, ready to enjoy life at last—until his wayward son, Nelson, returns from the West, and the image of an old…


Book cover of The Measure of Reality: Quantification in Western Europe, 1250-1600

Frederick Kaufman Author Of The Money Plot: A History of Currency's Power to Enchant, Control, and Manipulate

From my list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin.

Who am I?

I am an English professor, and for the past decade I’ve focused my attention on the fiction that is money. I’ve also been a magazine writer for many years and came to money by a circuitous route through writing about food, which led to writing about global hunger, which in turn led to writing about how food gets its price, which finally and lastly led me to the strange ways of Wall Street – options, futures, and the idea that money can be manipulated into a story, a narrative, or as we say in English departments, a plot.

Frederick's book list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin

Frederick Kaufman Why did Frederick love this book?

This is one of the most lucid explanations of our modern culture of numbers, and deals with topics ranging from music and architecture to, of course, money. It was the “big think” book that most inspired me to consider money not as something in and of itself, but as an artifact of a culture, transformed by time, place, and the genius of individuals.

By Alfred W. Crosby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Measure of Reality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Western Europeans were among the first, if not the first, to invent mechanical clocks, geometrically precise maps, double-entry bookkeeping, precise algebraic and musical notations, and perspective painting. By the sixteenth century more people were thinking quantitatively in western Europe than in any other part of the world. The Measure of Reality, first published in 1997, discusses the epochal shift from qualitative to quantitative perception in Western Europe during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. This shift made modern science, technology, business practice and bureaucracy possible.


Book cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Luke Fowler Author Of Democratic Policy Implementation in an Ambiguous World

From my list on how ideas are turned into actions.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by the obsession that we as a society have with making policy, but not whether policy works, and how policy is treated as a magic bullet to the social problems that we all care about. But my experience is that it’s not ideas that solve problems; it’s action that solves problems. This fascination has led me to become a professor of public policy and administration, where I have read extensively about this issue for over a decade and written two books and over four dozen articles. My work focuses on how ideas are translated into actions and how those actions impact our communities.

Luke's book list on how ideas are turned into actions

Luke Fowler Why did Luke love this book?

What I like about this book is that it digs into the cognitive processes that help explain our behaviors and how we come to understand the world.

The big takeaway from this book for me is that people don’t always think through their choices, and that is hardwired into our brains. It’s really important to understand that when you start thinking about how to get people to change their behaviors.

By Daniel Kahneman,

Why should I read it?

38 authors picked Thinking, Fast and Slow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The phenomenal international bestseller - 2 million copies sold - that will change the way you make decisions

'A lifetime's worth of wisdom' Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
'There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Thinking, Fast and Slow' Financial Times

Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast,…


Book cover of The Art of Logic in an Illogical World

Richard Hoshino Author Of The Math Olympian

From my list on mathematics and life.

Who am I?

I have devoted my entire career to mathematics, and have a life filled with meaning and purpose through my roles as an educator, researcher, and consultant. I teach at the Vancouver campus of Northeastern University and am the owner and principal of Hoshino Math Services, a boutique math consulting firm. 

Richard's book list on mathematics and life

Richard Hoshino Why did Richard love this book?

The author explains the importance of abstraction in logic, demonstrating its three main components: paths made of long chains of logic, packages made of a collection of concepts structured into a new compound unit, and pivots to build bridges to previously disconnected places.

Eugenia Cheng does an excellent job of abstracting principles of logic to better understand challenging real-world societal issues such as affirmative action and cancer screening. I found it quite compelling to understand how and why she came to her positions on various issues, through her axiom that "avoiding false negatives is more important than avoiding false positives." I appreciated the expertise by which she weaved numerous hard topics, in both mathematics and social justice, into a coherent and compelling narrative.

By Eugenia Cheng,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Art of Logic in an Illogical World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How both logical and emotional reasoning can help us live better in our post-truth world

In a world where fake news stories change election outcomes, has rationality become futile? In The Art of Logic in an Illogical World, Eugenia Cheng throws a lifeline to readers drowning in the illogic of contemporary life. Cheng is a mathematician, so she knows how to make an airtight argument. But even for her, logic sometimes falls prey to emotion, which is why she still fears flying and eats more cookies than she should. If a mathematician can't be logical, what are we to do?…


Book cover of Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent

Deirdre N. McCloskey Author Of The Rhetoric of Economics

From my list on the rhetoric of science (from a distinguished professor).

Who am I?

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Economics and of History, and Professor Emerita of English and of Communication, adjunct in classics and philosophy, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Trained at Harvard in the 1960s as an economist, she has written twenty-four books and some four hundred academic and popular articles on economic history, rhetoric, philosophy, statistical theory, economic theory, feminism, queer studies, liberalism, ethics, and law.

Deirdre's book list on the rhetoric of science (from a distinguished professor)

Deirdre N. McCloskey Why did Deirdre love this book?

Booth was a professor of English at the University of Chicago and a president of the Modern Language Association. Surprisingly, he wrote this elegant book showing that Cartesian doubt as the basis of science (or of anything else) is silly, not a dogma that anyone can actually live by. Like the other books here, he shows even science to have—or course—a “rhetoric,” that is, “the art of discovering good reasons, finding what really warrants assent because any reasonable person ought to be persuaded by what has been said.”

By Wayne C. Booth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When should I change my mind? What can I believe and what must I doubt? In this new "philosophy of good reasons" Wayne C. Booth exposes five dogmas of modernism that have too often inhibited efforts to answer these questions. Modern dogmas teach that "you cannot reason about values" and that "the job of thought is to doubt whatever can be doubted," and they leave those who accept them crippled in their efforts to think and talk together about whatever concerns them most. They have willed upon us a "befouled rhetorical climate" in which people are driven to two self-destructive…


Book cover of A Tale of Two Castles

Allison K. Hymas Author Of The Explorer's Code

From my list on mysteries the reader can solve by themselves.

Who am I?

I am a fan and a creator of puzzles. As a child, I created twisty scavenger hunts for my younger siblings, full of codes and clues. As a reader, I get frustrated with mysteries that hide clues or use knowledge that no reader would have so no one reading can possibly solve the story before the truth comes out. So, today, as a writer, I create stories that can be solved by the reader before the end. I entertain myself by solving puzzles and researching codes in my free time. I wish you the best of luck solving these books!

Allison's book list on mysteries the reader can solve by themselves

Allison K. Hymas Why did Allison love this book?

Dragons, castles, fairy tales, and mystery…this book has all my favorite things! We follow Elodie, a young actress (or mansioner) who becomes apprenticed to Sherlock Holmes in Dragon form. That alone was enough to hook me; I love seeing the mystery play out, and it is solvable, though in, perhaps, a different way than other mystery stories. My favorite thing about this book, though, is how it turns classic fairy tale tropes on their head. From this story, I learn not to assume and that villains can come in all different forms.

By Gail Carson Levine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Tale of Two Castles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Mysteries abound, especially in two castles...Elodie journeys to the town of Two Castles to become a mansioner-an actress-but the master of the troupe turns her away. The only one who will take Elodie in is Meenore, a dragon who happens to be a brilliant detective. To crack Meenore's newest case, Elodie goes undercover on a dangerous mission within an ogre's castle. There, disguised as a kitchen maid, Elodie plays the role of a lifetime, pitted against a foe intent on murder.


Book cover of The Philosopher's Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods

Marianne Talbot Author Of Critical Reasoning: A Romp through the Foothills of Logic for the Complete Beginner

From my list on to learn how to argue well better.

Who am I?

I taught philosophy (in particular critical reasoning!) for the colleges of Oxford University between 1987 and 2021. But, aged 15, I was thrown out of school (for truancy and disruption). Between the ages of 18 and 23 I travelled the world, hitch-hiking through Asia, living in Australasia, then travelling back through Africa. By the time I got home, starved of intellectual stimulation, I started an Open University Course and discovered logic. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. But also the most enjoyable. I loved getting to grips with difficult distinctions and concepts and having to use them precisely. Getting the answers right felt like an achievement. Getting them wrong, a challenge. I’ve loved logic ever since!

Marianne's book list on to learn how to argue well better

Marianne Talbot Why did Marianne love this book?

As with any other academic discipline, philosophy has its own language. This is not jargon (or it shouldn’t be!). It is a technical terminology. To look at something very closely, as any academic discipline does, is to record distinctions that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Immediately two names are needed where only one was needed before. This book will talk you through the most important of these distinctions. The book also looks at the methodology of philosophy, the most important of which, of course, is logic. 

By Peter S. Fosl, Julian Baggini,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Philosopher's Toolkit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new edition of the bestselling guide to the study of philosophy: the ideal intellectual 'toolkit' for sharpening analytical skills and building philosophical acuity

Whether used as a guide to basic principles or a resource for key concepts and methods, The Philosopher's Toolkit equips readers with all the intellectual 'tools' necessary for engaging closely with philosophical argument and developing fluency in the methods and language of philosophical inquiry. Featuring accessible explanations, practical examples, and expert guidance, this text empowers readers to understand traditional philosophical thinking and to engage with new ideas.

Focuses on the practical methods and concepts necessary for…


Book cover of How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass: A Critical Thinker's Guide to Asking the Right Questions

John V. Petrocelli Author Of The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit

From my list on detecting bullshit, misinformation, and fake news.

Who am I?

As an experimental social psychologist, who has conducted years of empirical research on bullshitting behavior and bullshit detection, I’ve found compelling evidence that the worst outcomes of bullshit communications are false beliefs and bad decisions. I’m convinced that all of our problems, whether they be personal, interpersonal, professional, or societal are either directly or indirectly linked to mindless bullshit reasoning and communication. I’m just sick and tired of incompetent, bullshit artists who capitalize by repackaging and selling what I and other experimental psychologists do for free. It’s time the masses learn that some of us who actually do the research on the things we write about can actually do it better.    

John's book list on detecting bullshit, misinformation, and fake news

John V. Petrocelli Why did John love this book?

If there is one book I wish I’d written myself, it is How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass. One of the things I admired most about the people who shaped my education and career path most was their ability to listen carefully and ask critical questions that uncovered even more than what was first expressed. Christopher DiCarlo’s book is a manual to practicing these traits. The book provides all of the tools needed to question beliefs and assumptions held by those who claim to know what they’re talking about, while at the same time providing practical solutions for today’s world of misinformation. The book also convinced me that faulty reasoning can be spotted by asking the right sorts of questions—what better gift to give someone? 

By Christopher Dicarlo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this witty, incisive guide to critical thinking the author provides you with the tools to allow you to question beliefs and assumptions held by those who claim to know what they're talking about. These days there are many people whom we need to question: politicians, lawyers, doctors, teachers, clergy members, bankers, car salesmen, and your boss. This book will empower you with the ability to spot faulty reasoning and, by asking the right sorts of questions, hold people accountable not only for what they believe but how they behave.

By using this book you'll learn to analyze your own…


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