8 books like Moral Politics

By George Lakoff,

Here are 8 books that Moral Politics fans have personally recommended if you like Moral Politics. 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 Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Bettina Aptheker Author Of Communists in Closets: Queering the History 1930s-1990s

From my list on helped me claim identity as a lesbian and feminist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an activist/scholar and I taught in the Feminist Studies department at the University of California, Santa Cruz for 40 years. My most popular class was Introduction to Feminism. Then I taught another large, undergraduate course Feminism & Social Justice. By the time I retired I had taught over 16,000 students, and worked with scores of graduate students. My online class, Feminism & Social Justice, on the Coursera Platform has been taken by over 107,000 people located on literally every continent. My teaching and writings are always anti-racist, and explicitly queer. They've drawn on my life experiences. They come out of my passion to lessen suffering, and embrace compassion. 

Bettina's book list on helped me claim identity as a lesbian and feminist

Bettina Aptheker Why did Bettina love this book?

Gloria Anzaldúa was born and raised in South Texas, growing up along the U.S.-Mexican border. For many years she lived in San Francisco, and then in Santa Cruz, California.

The first 113 pages of the book are stories and essays drawn from her life experiences as a woman of Mexican and Indian heritage, daily experiencing life at the physical border between the United States and Mexico.

She was raised in a strongly Catholic tradition, while also drawn to and inventing her own spirituality rooted in indigenous practices of harmony, balance, and reverence for the earth. She was a lesbian in a straight world that condemned her woman-loving sensibility.

Each of these is a “borderland” to be navigated and negotiated, and each of these borders is rich with insight, life, laughter, tears, violence, and love. The last 100 pages of the book is titled “Un Agitado Viento/ Ehécatl, The Wind.” It…

By Gloria Anzaldúa,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Borderlands/La Frontera as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The U.S-Mexican border es una herida abierta where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds. And before a scab forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country--a border culture."--Gloria Anzaldúa

Rooted in Gloria Anzaldúa's experience as a Chicana, a lesbian, an activist, and a writer, the essays and poems in BORDERLANDS/LA FRONTERA: THE NEW MESTIZA profoundly challenged, and continue to challenge, how we think about identity. BORDERLANDS/LA FRONTERA remaps our understanding of what a "border" is, presenting it not as a simple divide between here and there, us and them, but…


Book cover of White Teeth

Michael Keenan Gutierrez Author Of The Swill

From my list on bars where I'd like to get a drink.

Why am I passionate about this?

I loved bars before I could drink. Maybe it was a steady diet of Cheers reruns as a child. Or perhaps it was growing up in Los Angeles, a city without a center, a city of cars, a city that seemed—at least when I was a child—to lack real community. Bars, in my imagination, provided that. So when I started actually finding myself in bars—and often working in them—I also found myself writing fiction, and those bars ended up in that fiction. In each of my novels, a bar is a gathering place for those wanting a church sans theology, a place, where, yes, everyone knows your name.  

Michael's book list on bars where I'd like to get a drink

Michael Keenan Gutierrez Why did Michael love this book?

Maybe I just want to have a drink with Zadie Smith. She could tell me how she managed to write such a breathtaking novel by the age of 23. In this fictional encounter, I’d ask her about O’Connell’s, the pub in White Teeth frequented by her constantly put-upon war vets Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. “O’Connell’s is the kind of place family men come to for a different kind of family. Unlike blood relations, it is necessary here to earn one’s passion in the community; it takes years of devoted fucking around, time-wasting, lying-about, shooting the breeze, watching paint dry—far more dedication than men invest in the careless moment of procreation.” The whole book is this keenly observed, and this funny. 

By Zadie Smith,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked White Teeth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most talked about fictional debuts of recent years, "White Teeth" is a funny, generous, big-hearted novel, adored by critics and readers alike. Dealing - among many other things - with friendship, love, war, three cultures and three families over three generations, one brown mouse, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle, it is a life-affirming, riotous must-read of a book.


Book cover of Style: Language Variation and Identity

Emilia Di Martino Author Of Celebrity Accents and Public Identity Construction: Analyzing Geordie Stylizations

From my list on language and identity and why it matters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of English Linguistics interested in all aspects of language, identity, society, and power. I grew up and live in Southern Italy, in the Naples area, except for extended summertime family visits to San Diego, Southern California. I alternate my reading and writing between books on language and identity (how we self-promote ourselves to the public through personal style and narratives, molding our public image in a way we believe most advantageous to us) and texts on language and society (how we as individuals do things with words and gather information about other people from the way they communicate) and how these aspects intersect with power issues.

Emilia's book list on language and identity and why it matters

Emilia Di Martino Why did Emilia love this book?

This remarkably clear and engaging read opened my eyes to the identity dimension of style. Using plenty of examples, it shows how we pick and mix from the many alternative ways we can say something to present and position ourselves in society in a specific way. 

Nikolas Coupland, currently Emeritus Professor at Cardiff University, thoroughly reviews previous sociolinguistic studies on style, from traditional to modern, steering research towards a more sophisticated and wide-ranging understanding of the ways specific contexts, local interactions, personal access to the resources of language and individual aesthetic choices make meaning in the presentation of the self.

By Nikolas Coupland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Style refers to ways of speaking - how speakers use the resource of language variation to make meaning in social encounters. This 2007 book develops a coherent theoretical approach to style in sociolinguistics, illustrated with copious examples. It explains how speakers project different social identities and create different social relationships through their style choices, and how speech-style and social context inter-relate. Style therefore refers to the wide range of strategic actions and performances that speakers engage in, to construct themselves and their social lives. Coupland draws on and integrates a wide variety of contemporary sociolinguistic research as well as his…


Book cover of Pronoun Envy: Literary Uses of Linguistic Gender

Emilia Di Martino Author Of Celebrity Accents and Public Identity Construction: Analyzing Geordie Stylizations

From my list on language and identity and why it matters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of English Linguistics interested in all aspects of language, identity, society, and power. I grew up and live in Southern Italy, in the Naples area, except for extended summertime family visits to San Diego, Southern California. I alternate my reading and writing between books on language and identity (how we self-promote ourselves to the public through personal style and narratives, molding our public image in a way we believe most advantageous to us) and texts on language and society (how we as individuals do things with words and gather information about other people from the way they communicate) and how these aspects intersect with power issues.

Emilia's book list on language and identity and why it matters

Emilia Di Martino Why did Emilia love this book?

In 1971, in response to a protest by women students at the Harvard Divinity School against the masculine universal, the chair of Harvard’s linguistics department, Calvert Watkins, wrote a letter to Crimson, cosigned by other colleagues. Explaining the concept of ‘markedness,’ he contended there was “really no cause for anxiety or pronoun-envy on the part of those seeking such changes.” Anna Livia’s book─originally her PhD thesis at Berkeley, uses the controversial phrase as the departure point for an enlightening analysis of a wide range of English and French texts problematizing the traditional linguistic gender system. The study reveals that rather than stemming from undue envy, gendered language is justifiably at the core of feminist battles. How can we express ourselves fully if our identities are not adequately represented in discourse?

By Anna Livia,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pronoun Envy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this interdisciplinary book, Livia examines a broad corpus of written texts in English and French, concentrating on those texts which problematize the traditional functioning of the linguistic gender system. They range from novels and prose poems to film scripts and personal testimonies, and in time from the nineteenth century to the present. Her goal is to show that rather than being a case of misguided envy, battles over gendered language are central to feminist
concerns. This fresh and exciting scholarship will appeal to linguists and scholars in literary and gender studies.


Book cover of Metaphors We Live By

Robin Reames Author Of The Ancient Art of Thinking For Yourself: The Power of Rhetoric in Polarized Times

From my list on transforming how you think about language.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by the power of language to propel everything we think—from our values and beliefs, to political views, to what we take for absolute truth. Once I learned there’s a whole field devoted to studying language called “rhetoric”—the field in which I’m now an expert—there was no turning back. Rhetoric has been around for more than 2,000 years, and since its inception, it has taught people to step back from language and appraise it with a more critical eye to identify how it works, why it’s persuasive, and what makes people prone to believe it. By studying rhetoric, we become less easily swayed and more comfortable with disagreement. 

Robin's book list on transforming how you think about language

Robin Reames Why did Robin love this book?

This book is a classic. It transformed my perspective on how metaphors imperceptibly guide the way we think.

Typically, we learn about metaphors in literature classes, where they are thought of as stylistic embellishments. This book turns that idea on its head, showing how metaphors guide the way we speak, think, and behave in response to pretty much everything. 

Take the example of time. Almost all the ways we talk about it rely on the metaphor of money: I “budget time,” “waste time,” “run out of time,” etc. Speaking this way makes me think of time as something that can be either spent or saved, even though it can’t.

Not only time but a nearly endless number of concepts are structured metaphorically, influencing how we think and act without our noticing. 

By George Lakoff, Mark Johnson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Metaphors We Live By as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

People use metaphors every time they speak. Some of those metaphors are literary - devices for making thoughts more vivid or entertaining. But most are much more basic than that - they're "metaphors we live by", metaphors we use without even realizing we're using them. In this book, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson suggest that these basic metaphors not only affect the way we communicate ideas, but actually structure our perceptions and understandings from the beginning. Bringing together the perspectives of linguistics and philosophy, Lakoff and Johnson offer an intriguing and surprising guide to some of the most common metaphors…


Book cover of The Linguistics Wars: Chomsky, Lakoff, and the Battle over Deep Structure

Paul Thagard Author Of Balance: How It Works and What It Means

From my list on metaphor.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in metaphor and analogy as a graduate student in philosophy of science in the 1970s. Important scientific ideas such as natural selection and the wave theories of sound and light were built from metaphors and made to work by analogical thinking. In the 1980s, I started building computational models of analogy. So when I got interested in balance because of a case of vertigo in 2016, I naturally noticed the abundance of balance metaphors operating in science and everyday life. Once the pandemic hit, I was struck by the prevalence of the powerful metaphor of making public health decisions while balancing lives and livelihoods. 

Paul's book list on metaphor

Paul Thagard Why did Paul love this book?

Randy Harris is a colleague of mine at the University of Waterloo, and his book is a marvelous history and analysis of the decades-long intellectual battle between Noam Chomsky and George Lakoff. It provides the context and background for how Lakoff’s theory of metaphor was part of the development of alternatives to Chomsky-style linguistics, along with some trenchant criticisms of the very idea of conceptual metaphor. 

By Randy Allen Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An updated and expanded history of the field of linguistics from the 1950s to the current day

The Linguistics Wars tells the tumultuous history of language and cognition studies from the rise of Noam Chomsky's Transformational Grammar to the current day. Focusing on the rupture that split the field between Chomsky's structuralist vision and George Lakoff's meaning-driven theories, Randy Allen Harris portrays the extraordinary personalities that were central to the dispute and its aftermath, alongside the data, technical developments, and social currents that fueled the
unfolding and expanding schism. This new edition, updated to cover the more than twenty-five years…


Book cover of Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

Clare Williams Author Of An Economic Sociology of Law Reimagined: Beyond Embeddedness

From my list on how we use metaphor and how metaphor uses us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by (and in love with) language for as long as I can remember; how and why it works, and how slight alterations in phrasing and framing can produce vastly different results in practice. I love looking out for metaphors and phrases that function as tools, directing how we understand and engage with the world. While my research applies these insights to both law and economics, the key takeaways are widely applicable and relevant to all areas of life. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have.

Clare's book list on how we use metaphor and how metaphor uses us

Clare Williams Why did Clare love this book?

Have you noticed shifts in the vocabularies and grammars that we use over the last few decades? Why are we now talking about “tax relief” rather than “reduced investment in public goods and services”, for example? Who decided that this should be the standard phrase, and what do these shifts in our language mean for the way we understand and respond to political arguments?

George Lakoff is a master storyteller, but this book is grounded in decades of scholarship and research into how language frames our experiences and shapes our responses to the world. This book will change the way you consume current affairs and politics, and is an excellent introduction to how our language has been captured by certain political interests. It also sets out a manifesto for those interested in fighting back.

By George Lakoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Think of an Elephant! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Donit Think of an Elephant! is the definitive handbook for understanding what happened in the 2004 US election and communicating effectively about key issues facing America today. Author George Lakoff has become a key advisor to the Democratic party, helping them develop their message and frame the political debate.
In this book Lakoff explains how conservatives think, and how to counter their arguments. His years of research and work with environmental and political leaders have been distilled into this essential guide, which shows progressives how to think in terms of values instead of programmes, and why people vote for their…


Book cover of Shakespeare, Rhetoric and Cognition

Helen Hackett Author Of The Elizabethan Mind: Searching for the Self in an Age of Uncertainty

From my list on how Shakespeare thought about the mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved all things Elizabethan, and I especially love spending time with books and manuscripts where voices from the period speak to us directly. Wanting to understand how Shakespeare and his contemporaries understood themselves led me to investigate their ideas about relations between mind and body, about emotions, about the imagination, and about the minds of women and those of other races. I’ve learned that the Elizabethans grappled with many conflicting ideas about the mind, from classical philosophies, medieval medicine, new theologies, and more – and that this intellectual turmoil was essential fuel for the extraordinary literary creativity of the period.

Helen's book list on how Shakespeare thought about the mind

Helen Hackett Why did Helen love this book?

Renaissance writers were trained in rhetoric: how to use language to work through a problem or convey a state of mind.

Today, theories of cognition explore how linguistic devices relate to processes in the brain; for example, metaphor replicates how the mind understands something by associating or comparing it with something else. Lyne’s radical innovation is to bring together these historical and contemporary frameworks for understanding thought and language.

He explores points of contact between Renaissance rhetorical theories and present-day cognitive theories, then applies his insights to analyse works by Shakespeare. This offers a wholly fresh approach to understanding how Shakespeare translates thoughts – his own and those of his characters – into words; and how those words in turn work on our minds as readers or listeners.

By Raphael Lyne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shakespeare, Rhetoric and Cognition as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Raphael Lyne addresses a crucial Shakespearean question: why do characters in the grip of emotional crises deliver such extraordinarily beautiful and ambitious speeches? How do they manage to be so inventive when they are perplexed? Their dense, complex, articulate speeches at intensely dramatic moments are often seen as psychological - they uncover and investigate inwardness, character and motivation - and as rhetorical - they involve heightened language, deploying recognisable techniques. Focusing on A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, Cymbeline and the Sonnets, Lyne explores both the psychological and rhetorical elements of Shakespeare's language. In the light of cognitive linguistics and cognitive…


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