100 books like The Autonomous City

By Alexander Vasudevan,

Here are 100 books that The Autonomous City fans have personally recommended if you like The Autonomous City. 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 Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution

Paul Chatterton Author Of How to Save the City: A Guide for Emergency Action

From my list on helping us save the city.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been fascinated by city life since I studied Geography at high school. After twenty five years of teaching and researching urban geography, I am Professor of Urban Futures at a UK university. I now have a better sense of the challenges we face and what we can do about them. I spend my time supporting activists, campaigners, students, policymakers, and politicians about the urgency for change and what kind of ideas and examples they can use to tackle what I call the triple emergencies of climate breakdown, social inequality, and nature loss.

Paul's book list on helping us save the city

Paul Chatterton Why did Paul love this book?

David Harvey has been writing about how capitalism shapes city life since the global revolutions back in 1968.

What I learned from his book Rebel Cities is that we need a laser-like focus on how capitalism makes and remakes urban life, normally for the worse. Unless we realise this we don’t know what we are up against and what effective solutions look like.

What I really like about this book is that it encourages us to see that cities and their citizens are rebelling all over the world – and this means building alternatives to corporate capitalism power that is ultimately pushing our climate and natural world beyond safe limits.

By David Harvey,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Rebel Cities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Long before Occupy, cities were the subject of much utopian thinking. They are the centers of capital accumulation as well as of revolutionary politics, where deeper currents of social and political change rise to the surface. Do the financiers and developers control access to urban resources or do the people? Who dictates the quality and organization of daily life? Rebel Cities places the city at the heart of both capital and class struggles, looking at locations ranging from Johannesburg to Mumbai, from New York City to S o Paulo. Drawing on the Paris Commune as well as Occupy Wall Street…


Book cover of Public Goods Versus Economic Interests: Global Perspectives on the History of Squatting

Bart Van Der Steen Author Of City Is Ours: Squatting and Autonomous Movements in Europe from the 1970s to the Present

From my list on squatting and urban activism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I was young, I have been fascinated by – and worked with - people protesting injustice and inequality. By standing up, following through, and letting their voice be heard, people have the potential to change the world for the better. As a researcher, I have studied the history of various European protest movements – from labor activists to squatters and direct action groups. I have published on radical philosophers, Dutch Trotskyists, and even a socialist astronomer - but my main focus has always been radical squatters in the Netherlands and Germany.

Bart's book list on squatting and urban activism

Bart Van Der Steen Why did Bart love this book?

Histories of squatting mainly focus on radical activists in Europe during the 1970s and 1980s, ignoring the fact that squatting has always been a global phenomenon. Anders and Sedlmaier have responded by creating a collection of chapters that highlight the global and historical nature of squatting. Their volume is the first to initiate an in-depth discussion of the similarities between first world and third world squatting, and thus covers cases from Seoul to Bucharest and Bangkok, and from Turkey to Brazil and the UK. In doing so, the book raises fascinating questions on how squatting oscillates between being a self-help and a collective protest strategy, on the relationship between migration and squatting, and on the influence of squatter movements on urban development. 

By Freia Anders (editor), Alexander Sedlmaier (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Public Goods Versus Economic Interests as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Squatting is currently a global phenomenon. A concomitant of economic development and social conflict, squatting attracts public attention because - implicitly or explicitly - it questions property relations from the perspective of the basic human need for shelter. So far neglected by historical inquiry, squatters have played an important role in the history of urban development and social movements, not least by contributing to change in concepts of property and the distribution and utilization of urban space. An interdisciplinary circle of authors demonstrates how squatters have articulated their demands for participation in the housing market and public space in a…


Book cover of Migration, Squatting and Radical Autonomy

Bart Van Der Steen Author Of City Is Ours: Squatting and Autonomous Movements in Europe from the 1970s to the Present

From my list on squatting and urban activism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I was young, I have been fascinated by – and worked with - people protesting injustice and inequality. By standing up, following through, and letting their voice be heard, people have the potential to change the world for the better. As a researcher, I have studied the history of various European protest movements – from labor activists to squatters and direct action groups. I have published on radical philosophers, Dutch Trotskyists, and even a socialist astronomer - but my main focus has always been radical squatters in the Netherlands and Germany.

Bart's book list on squatting and urban activism

Bart Van Der Steen Why did Bart love this book?

Migration and squatting are integrally linked. Migrants have always been the ones who have had the most difficulty in finding adequate and affordable housing – and this is even more so for undocumented migrants. Mudu and Chattopadhyay are the first to systematically document and analyze the recent squatter experiences of illegalized migrants in Europe and the US. While some chapters discuss political actions - such as seeking sanctuary in churches and occupying houses and squares - others focus on more covert strategies of migrants for seeking shelter. The contributors ask how migrants are being portrayed in politics and the media, how they can form coalitions with others, and under what conditions they can build power. 

By Pierpaolo Mudu (editor), Sutapa Chattopadhyay (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Migration, Squatting and Radical Autonomy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book offers a unique contribution, exploring how the intersections among migrants and radical squatter's movements have evolved over past decades. The complexity and importance of squatting practices are analyzed from a bottom-up perspective, to demonstrate how the spaces of squatting can be transformed by migrants. With contributions from scholars, scholar-activists, and activists, this book provides unique insights into how squatting has offered an alternative to dominant anti-immigrant policies, and the implications of squatting on the social acceptance of migrants. It illustrates the different mechanisms of protest followed in solidarity by migrant squatters and Social Center activists, when discrimination comes…


Book cover of Squatting in Europe: Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles

Bart Van Der Steen Author Of City Is Ours: Squatting and Autonomous Movements in Europe from the 1970s to the Present

From my list on squatting and urban activism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I was young, I have been fascinated by – and worked with - people protesting injustice and inequality. By standing up, following through, and letting their voice be heard, people have the potential to change the world for the better. As a researcher, I have studied the history of various European protest movements – from labor activists to squatters and direct action groups. I have published on radical philosophers, Dutch Trotskyists, and even a socialist astronomer - but my main focus has always been radical squatters in the Netherlands and Germany.

Bart's book list on squatting and urban activism

Bart Van Der Steen Why did Bart love this book?

From 2009 to 2021, the Squatting Europe Kollective provided a platform for innovative research on squatting by both academics and activists. The group organized international meetings, created an interactive map of squatter actions in various European cities, and published a number of books. Their 2013 volume provided a state of the art of squatter research. The first chapter distinguishes between different modes (‘configurations’) of squatting; for example squatting as an alternative housing strategy, a strategy for saving monumental dwellings from demolition or squatting as a tactic for confronting neoliberalism. The subsequent chapters zoom into particular issues, such as the ways in which squatters organize the running of occupied places, respond to criminalization and form international travel networks. 

By Squatting in Europe Kollective,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Squatting offers a radical but simple solution to the crises of housing, homelessness, and the lack of social space that mark contemporary society: occupying empty buildings and rebuilding lives and communities in the process. Squatting has a long and complex history, interwoven with the changing and contested nature of urban politics over the last forty years.

Squatting can be an individual strategy for shelter or a collective experiment in communal living. Squatted and self-managed social centres have contributed to the renewal of urban struggles across Europe and intersect with larger political projects. However, not all squatters share the same goals,…


Book cover of We Are 'Nature' Defending Itself: Entangling Art, Activism and Autonomous Zones

Shaun Chamberlin Author Of Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy

From my list on navigating the unfolding collapse of civilisation.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2005 I realised that society was gradually, inexorably, headed off a cliff. So I quit a job I loved – a great decision! – and followed John Michael Greer's advice to “collapse now and avoid the rush”. Through that I’ve written a film, books, and peer-reviewed articles, co-founded organisations and movements, been arrested for direct action, advised governments, and come to live at a money-free pub! And now lead the ‘Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time’ online program, through Vermont’s Sterling College. I haven’t learned to change the course of history, but have discovered the ‘dark optimism’ of meaningful – even joyous – paths through such times, with eyes wide open.

Shaun's book list on navigating the unfolding collapse of civilisation

Shaun Chamberlin Why did Shaun love this book?

I first heard Isabelle and Jay speak in 2021, and found myself literally gripping the arms of my chair with fascination. 

They told the 40-year-long story of their home at ‘the ZAD’, 4,000 acres of wild wetlands and forest that the French state intended for an international airport. Community-building and collective resistance in the face of intense and repeated police assault – the footage of which is astonishing to witness – eventually saw off the planned devastation, and has inspired numerous other ZADs around France and the world.

We Are ‘Nature’ Defending Itself weaves together captivating theory and hard-fought practice in telling the kind of true story our world desperately needs more of.  Pure distilled inspiration for those pondering their path, as centralised power structures weaken.

By Isabelle Fremeaux, Jay Jordan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Are 'Nature' Defending Itself as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2008, as the storms of the financial crash blew, Isabelle Fremeaux and Jay Jordan deserted the metropolis and their academic jobs, traveling across Europe in search of post-capitalist utopias. They wanted their art activism to no longer be uprooted.

They arrived at a place French politicians had declared lost to the republic, otherwise know as the zad (the zone to defend): a messy but extraordinary canvas of commoning, illegally occupying 4,000 acres of wetlands where an international airport was planned. In 2018, the 40-year-long struggle snatched an incredible victory, defeating the airport expansion project through a powerful cocktail that…


Book cover of From My Window

Laura Resau Author Of Stand as Tall as the Trees: How an Amazonian Community Protected the Rain Forest

From my list on children’s pictures set in South America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I feel passionate about spreading the word about all the fantastic children’s literature set in South America. As an author and a multilingual mom whose son enjoys learning about his Latin American heritage, I’ve always brought home stacks of picture books—in Spanish and English—that celebrate Latin American cultures and settings. I’ve loved traveling to the Andes mountains and the Amazon rain forest as part of my children’s book collaborations with Indigenous women in those regions. Most of all, I love transporting young readers to these inspiring places through story.

Laura's book list on children’s pictures set in South America

Laura Resau Why did Laura love this book?

The vibrant, colorful cut-out style mosaic artwork first caught my eye—it creates a jubilant sensory experience.

In poignant observations, the author recounts what he saw as a boy from his window, in his favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Although favelas might have problems with lack of services and violence, this story is a celebration of the creative spirit of the favela, where Brazilian funk was born, and where future soccer super-stars hone their skills.

This is a poignant glimpse into the poetry of people’s lives in the favela, and it captivated me completely.

By Otavio Junior, Vanina Starkoff (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From My Window as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

What do you see from your window? This #OwnVoices picture book from Brazil offers a first-hand view of what children growing up in the favelas of Rio de Janiero see everyday. A vibrant and diverse celebration of urban community living, brought to life by unique, colorful illustrations that juxtapose brick buildings with lush jungle plants.


Book cover of Take Back the Land: Land, Gentrification & the Umoja Village Shantytown

Jordan Flaherty Author Of No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality

From my list on challenging capitalism, racism, and patriarchy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I produced dozens of hours of film and television, including for Al Jazeera’s Emmy, Peabody, and DuPont-award-winning program Faultlines; as well as short and long-form documentaries for Democracy Now and teleSUR, and reporting in The New York Times and Washington Post. I’ve written two books based on my journalism, No More Heroes: Grassroots Responses to the Savior Mentality and Floodlines: Community and Resistance From Katrina to the Jena Six. I produced the independent feature film Chocolate Babies, which was recently added to the Criterion Collection. My latest film is Powerlands.

Jordan's book list on challenging capitalism, racism, and patriarchy

Jordan Flaherty Why did Jordan love this book?

The best book I’ve ever read about organizing. Max Rameau is a visionary organizer who, in the midst of the housing crisis of 2008, began seizing empty houses and helping homeless people move in. In this book, he goes into deep detail on a previous campaign to reclaim land and turn it into housing, explaining both the successes and failures, as well as the strategy and ideas behind the tactics. Read this to learn the fundamentals of how to plan, organize and win.

By Max Rameau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Take Back the Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On October 23, 2006, a group of activists brought land struggle to the US. After seizing public land in Liberty City, FL, the Umoja Village Shantytown was born.


Book cover of Les Enfants des Héros

Madison Smartt Bell Author Of Master of the Crossroads

From my list on Haitian history and Haiti today.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was drawn to Haiti for two reasons; the Haitian Revolution is the only one of the three 18th century upheavals to fulfill the declared ideology of the French and American Revolutions by extending basic human rights to all people, not just white people. Secondly, or maybe I should put it first, the practice of Vodou makes Haiti one of the few places where one can meet divinity in the flesh, an experience I coveted, although (as it is written) it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.

Madison's book list on Haitian history and Haiti today

Madison Smartt Bell Why did Madison love this book?

Lyonel Trouillot is one of the most powerful novelists of our time, extremely well known in the Francophone world, though less so in the US, in part because of the difficulty of translating his intensely lyrical prose. He has a rare ability to make artistically sound texts based on very immediate reportage on the various Haitian crises. This particular novel is especially valuable in the way it relates the desperation of Haitian life today to the country’s heroic past.

By Lyonel Trouillot,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Les Enfants des Héros as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Deux enfants courent, fuyant la misère du bidonville, le destin, le corps d'un père alcoolique et violent qu'ils viennent de tuer. Tableau d'une population désorientée et meurtrie, privée d'échappatoire, ce récit est un bouleversant cri d'alarme au coeur de l'indifférence.


Book cover of A Reporter At Large: Dateline: Pyramid Lake, Nevada

Sandra V. McGee Author Of The Divorce Seekers: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler

From my list on the Reno divorce ranch era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the co-author of The Divorce Seekers, an intimate glimpse into life on Nevada’s most exclusive divorce ranch, the Flying M E. From 1947-1949, my late husband, William L. “Bill” McGee, was the dude wrangler on the Flying M E, twenty miles south of Reno. We spent four years gathering photos (many from former guests on the ranch or their offspring) and conducting interviews. My book is the only book on the subject written from the perspective of a former divorce ranch wrangler. I’ve become passionate about this subject and, thanks to my work on this book, am now regarded as an “expert” on the Nevada divorce ranch era.

Sandra's book list on the Reno divorce ranch era

Sandra V. McGee Why did Sandra love this book?

In 1949, renowned journalist A. J. Liebling went to Reno for a divorce. He stayed at the remote Pyramid Lake Ranch, thirty-four miles north of Reno at Sutcliffe, Nevada. In what can only be described as “vintage Liebling,” he writes about his stay on the ranch and the challenges of being surrounded by so many women. As Liebling says, “I have never been reluctant to buy a lady a drink, but there were thirty-eight ladies in residence at the ranch, and this offered a problem in economics.” In 1956, Arthur Miller stayed at the Pyramid Lake Ranch for a divorce so he could marry Marilyn Monroe. Miller got the idea for The Misfits during his residency on the ranch.

By A.J. Liebling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Reporter At Large as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1949, renowned journalist A. J. Liebling came to Reno to obtain a divorce, which required that he establish residency in Nevada for a period of six weeks. Liebling stayed at a guest ranch on the shores of Pyramid Lake. While there, his reporter's curiosity was engaged by a bitter dispute raging between the Paiutes and non-Indian squatters who were claiming the most agriculturally productive lands of the reservation and the waters feeding the lake that was the economic and spiritual heart of the Paiutes' ancient culture.

Liebling recorded the litigation over the fate of the Pyramid Lake Reservation lands…


Book cover of Between Jobs

Lydia Sherrer Author Of Beginnings

From my list on urban fantasy adventures with snarky humor.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the author of 10+ books in my snark-filled and magical Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus universe, I’ve had plenty of practice mixing humor and urban fantasy. I’m also addicted to British humor like Monty Python and Black Books. Sir Edgar Allan Kipling, the magical talking cat in my books is my main outlet for humor with his feline aphorisms like “pride is unbecoming to humans, only cats and dragons do it justice,” and “if you wanted sympathy, you should have adopted a dog.” It has been my joy to seek out the snort-laugh-worthiest novels, learn from them, and produce laugh-out-loud adventures for my own wonderful readers.

Lydia's book list on urban fantasy adventures with snarky humor

Lydia Sherrer Why did Lydia love this book?

The Tasmanian setting and more subtle, understated snark of the protagonist threw me for a loop for the first part of this book, but it had been highly recommended to me so I stuck with it (plus I loved the premise and characters of this urban fantasy romp). By the end of it and into the second and third books in the series I was head-over-heels in love with the series, the author’s voice, and her wonderfully unique Aussie sense of humor. We all know that the first book can be a bit rough, and I promise you that by the end of the series I was so blown away by the excellent story-smithing and craftsmanship of Ms. Gingell that this series is one of my top favorite.

By W.R. Gingell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When you get up in the morning, the last thing you expect to see is a murdered guy hanging outside your window. Things like that tend to draw the attention of the local police, and when you're squatting in your parents' old house until you can afford to buy it, another thing you can't afford is the attention of the cops.

Oh yeah. Hi. My name is Pet. It's not my real name, but it's the only one you're getting. Things like names are important these days. 

And it's not so much that I'm Pet. I am a pet. A…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in squatting, Europe, and law?

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