100 books like The Medium and the Light

By Marshall McLuhan,

Here are 100 books that The Medium and the Light fans have personally recommended if you like The Medium and the Light. 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 Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man

William J. Buxton Author Of Harold Innis on Peter Pond: Biography, Cultural Memory, and the Continental Fur Trade

From my list on By or about the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan (.

Why am I passionate about this?

William J. Buxton is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies and Senior Fellow, Centre for Sensory Studies, at Concordia University Montreal, Qc, Canada. He is also professeur associé au Département d’information et de communication de l’Université Laval, Québec City, Québec, Canada. He has edited and co-edited five books related to the life and works of the Canadian political economist and media theorist, Harold Adams Innis.

William's book list on By or about the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan (

William J. Buxton Why did William love this book?

Largely recognized as McLuhan’s first major work, this book provides a trenchant analysis of 1940’s popular culture in the United States, with particular reference to print-media advertising. To this end, it consists of x chapters, each of which consists of an image culled from newspapers and magazines, accompanied by an insightful—and often ironictext. Dismissed by some as lacking in direction and coherence, the book actually has a tightly woven narrative that sheds considerable light on the gender issues, technology, and power structures of the day. 

By Marshall McLuhan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

OURS is the first age in wruch many thousands of the
best-trained individual minds have made it a full-time
business to get inside the collective public mind. To
get inside in order to manipulate, exploit, control is
the object now. And to generate heat not light is the
intention. To keep everybody in the helpless state
engendered by prolonged mental rutting is the effect
of many ads and much entertainment alike.
Since so many minds are engaged in bringing
about this condition of public helplessness, and since
these programs of commercial education are so much
more expensive and influential than…


Book cover of Distant Early Warning: Marshall McLuhan and the Transformation of the Avant-Garde

William J. Buxton Author Of Harold Innis on Peter Pond: Biography, Cultural Memory, and the Continental Fur Trade

From my list on By or about the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan (.

Why am I passionate about this?

William J. Buxton is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies and Senior Fellow, Centre for Sensory Studies, at Concordia University Montreal, Qc, Canada. He is also professeur associé au Département d’information et de communication de l’Université Laval, Québec City, Québec, Canada. He has edited and co-edited five books related to the life and works of the Canadian political economist and media theorist, Harold Adams Innis.

William's book list on By or about the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan (

William J. Buxton Why did William love this book?

This book explores McLuhan’s relationship with avant-garde art. While McLuhan’s engagement with artistic endeavours, has received some attention, Kitnick examines in detail not only how McLuhan’s work on art developed over an extended period, but how his views on artistic practice came to inform the work of others. He builds on McLuhan’s contention that art was not primarily a means of self-expression, but rather the basis for cultural exploration and environmental change. Drawing inspiration from figures such as James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Wyndham Lewis. McLuhan, according to Kitnick, saw members of the avant-garde as artists who work within conventional structures in order to disrupt them, thereby throwing them into relief. 

By Alex Kitnick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) is best known as a media theorist-many consider him the founder of media studies-but he was also an important theorist of art. Though a near-household name for decades due to magazine interviews and TV specials, McLuhan remains an underappreciated yet fascinating figure in art history. His connections with the art of his own time were largely unexplored, until now. In Distant Early Warning, art historian Alex Kitnick delves into these rich connections and argues both that McLuhan was influenced by art and artists and, more surprisingly, that McLuhan's work directly influenced the art and artists of his…


Book cover of Re-Understanding Media: Feminist Extensions of Marshall McLuhan

William J. Buxton Author Of Harold Innis on Peter Pond: Biography, Cultural Memory, and the Continental Fur Trade

From my list on By or about the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan (.

Why am I passionate about this?

William J. Buxton is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies and Senior Fellow, Centre for Sensory Studies, at Concordia University Montreal, Qc, Canada. He is also professeur associé au Département d’information et de communication de l’Université Laval, Québec City, Québec, Canada. He has edited and co-edited five books related to the life and works of the Canadian political economist and media theorist, Harold Adams Innis.

William's book list on By or about the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan (

William J. Buxton Why did William love this book?

Using McLuhan’s classic Understanding Media as a point of reference, the editors have assembled an impressive collection of essays that succeed in critically extending his ideas into a range of new directions. These include the biases of contemporary urban planning, transport (from a race perspective), gendered domestic and office space, and Black feminist activism. While remaining true to the exploratory spirit of McLuhan’s “probes,” the essays demonstrate both the shortcomings and potentialities of his body of work.

By Sarah Sharma (editor), Rianka Singh (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Re-Understanding Media as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The contributors to Re-Understanding Media advance a feminist version of Marshall McLuhan's key text, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, repurposing his insight that "the medium is the message" for feminist ends. They argue that while McLuhan's theory provides a falsely universalizing conception of the technological as a structuring form of power, feminist critics can take it up to show how technologies alter and determine the social experiences of race, gender, class, and sexuality. This volume showcases essays, experimental writings, and interviews from media studies scholars, artists, activists, and those who work with and create technology. Among other topics, the…


Book cover of Out of School: Information Art and the Toronto School of Communication

William J. Buxton Author Of Harold Innis on Peter Pond: Biography, Cultural Memory, and the Continental Fur Trade

From my list on By or about the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan (.

Why am I passionate about this?

William J. Buxton is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies and Senior Fellow, Centre for Sensory Studies, at Concordia University Montreal, Qc, Canada. He is also professeur associé au Département d’information et de communication de l’Université Laval, Québec City, Québec, Canada. He has edited and co-edited five books related to the life and works of the Canadian political economist and media theorist, Harold Adams Innis.

William's book list on By or about the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan (

William J. Buxton Why did William love this book?

This book dovetails with those of Kitnick as well as Sharma and Singh. While framed by a broader concern with the emergence of the Toronto School of Communication, it gives particular attention to how McLuhan’s notions about “information art,” came to influence artistic practice through initiatives such as “N.E. Thing and Company” (NETCO), Robert Smithson’s West Coast work and “General Idea.” Echoing some of the issues raised by the Sharma/Singh collection, he examines these ventures through the lens of power and gender. It is impeccably edited and handsomely illustrated, in line with the high production standards of McGill-Queen’s University Press.

By Adam Lauder,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Through a series of focused and interconnected case studies, Out of School explores the long history of information art associated with the Toronto School of Communication. It highlights the perspectives of artists inspired by the speculations of Marshall McLuhan and colleagues as well as the philosophical underpinnings of the Toronto School's ideas about information.

Using pre-Internet media such as telex and the telecopier, the artists explored in this book materialized visionary concepts of information without the aid of computers. Harbingers of contemporary digital culture, Bertram Brooker, N.E. Thing Co., Robert Smithson, Wyndham Lewis, General Idea, and other artists approached information…


Book cover of Kristin Lavransdatter

Bonnie Stanard Author Of Béjart's Caravan

From my list on the destructive power of blind obedience to religion.

Why am I passionate about this?

"Write what you know" is worn-out advice you'll find on many a website, but I prefer to write what I want to know. Researching for background information is a far cry from studying the history of dates, places, and politics. For instance, you won't read in a history book that forks weren't used at the table in the Renaissance. That people didn't have zippers or right/left shoes, but they did have buttons. Noblemen wore high-heeled shoes. Women poisoned themselves with makeup of white lead (ceruse). Even with diaries, autobiographies, and social history books, trivial information of daily life is hard to find. 

Bonnie's book list on the destructive power of blind obedience to religion

Bonnie Stanard Why did Bonnie love this book?

When I discovered Kristin Lavransdatter was 1000 pages, I never expected to fininsh it (I'm a slow reader). However, about 50 pages into it, I was hooked and was at a loss when I read the final chapter. Religion is pervasive but delivered indirectly. The Catholic Church in the Middle Ages was an absolute authority with an iron grip on the main character Kristin. Undset was not judgmental in the book, but I was in reading it. 

By Sigrid Undsett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'[Sigrid Undset] should be the next Elena Ferrante' -Slate

The Nobel Prize-winning masterpiece by Norway's literary master

Kristin Lavransdatter is the epic story of one woman's life in fourteenth-century Norway, from childhood to death. Sensitive and rebellious Kristin is sent to a convent as a girl, where she meets the charming but irresponsible Erlend. Defying her parents' wishes to pursue her own desires, she marries and raises seven sons. However, her husband's political ambitions threaten catastrophe for the family, and the couple become increasingly estranged as the world around them tumbles into uncertainty.

With its captivating heroine and emotional potency,…


Book cover of Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland: Religious Practice in Late Modernity

Crawford Gribben Author Of The Rise and Fall of Christian Ireland

From my list on Christianity in Ireland.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like anyone else who takes an interest in Ireland, I’ve been fascinated by the long and often very difficult history of the island’s experience of religion. Where I live, in county Antrim, religious imagery appears everywhere – in churches and schools, obviously, but also on signboards posted onto trees, and in the colourful rags that are still hung up to decorate holy wells. This book is the fruit of twenty years of thinking about Christian Ireland - its long and difficult history, and its sudden and difficult collapse.

Crawford's book list on Christianity in Ireland

Crawford Gribben Why did Crawford love this book?

Why, from the 1990s, did the Irish Catholic consensus so suddenly disappear? And what might be the effect of this sudden-onset secularisation? This brilliant account of the recent revolution in Irish religion describes the effects of the clerical scandals that brought down a government, demoralised a denomination, and drove social change on a massive and structural scale. Ganiel shows how the older religious monopolies that did so much to shape the institutions and culture of Ireland, north and south, have given way to a much more fluid religious market, in which individuals can believe without belonging just as much as they might formerly have belonged without believing.

By Gladys Ganiel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland is the first major book to explore the dynamic religious landscape of contemporary Ireland, north and south, and to analyse the island's religious transition. It confirms that the Catholic Church's long-standing 'monopoly' has well and truly disintegrated, replaced by a mixed, post-Catholic religious 'market' featuring new and growing expressions of Protestantism, as well as other religions. It describes how people of faith
are developing 'extra-institutional' expressions of religion, keeping their faith alive outside or in addition to the institutional Catholic Church.

Drawing on island-wide surveys of clergy and laypeople, as well as more than 100 interviews, Gladys…


Book cover of Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Author Of Religicide: Confronting the Roots of Anti-Religious Violence

From my list on human rights that focus on religion.

Why am I passionate about this?

Between us, we’ve been in the interreligious relations business for a combined 50 years. We started working together when Jerry was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under President Barack Obama. In 2015, we were both invited by Prince Ghazi of Jordan to join other interreligious leaders to advance a UN resolution defining and taking a stand against religicide. That resolution never made it to the Security Council. But we joined forces to sound the alarm about religicide. We wrote our book in the hope of inspiring an international campaign to end this killing in the name of God – or being killed because of your God.   

Georgette's book list on human rights that focus on religion

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Why did Georgette love this book?

One of the most popular historians of religion, this book examines each of the great religions over time and reveals the context for the warrior traditions that emerged in them. One of her key insights is that every religious movement is rooted in the fear…"that modern society is out to destroy not only their faith but also themselves and their entire way of life.… When people fear annihilation, their horizons tend to shrink and they can lash out violently.”

By Karen Armstrong,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fields of Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is the most persistent myth of our time: religion is the cause of all violence. But history suggests otherwise. Karen Armstrong, former Roman Catholic nun and one of our foremost scholars of religion, speaks out to disprove the link between religion and bloodshed.

* Religion is as old as humanity: Fields of Blood goes back to the Stone Age hunter-gatherers and traces religion through the centuries, from medieval crusaders to modern-day jihadists.

* The West today has a warped concept of religion: we regard faith as a personal and private matter, but for most of history faith has informed…


Book cover of Black Saints in Early Modern Global Catholicism

Amanda Scott Author Of The Basque Seroras: Local Religion, Gender, and Power in Northern Iberia, 1550-1800

From my list on Spain’s golden age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a stubborn teenager, and growing up, I vocally declared I would never set foot in Spain. The Spanish Empire was oppressive! It was full of religious fanatics! Yet… in college I took a course on Spain’s Golden Age, and for the first time I saw a different side of history, full of paradoxes and contradictions, Inquisitors and female mystics, bumbling priests and powerful nuns, decadence and poverty, emperors, tricksters, artists, pirates, scientists, and everything in between. Spain of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries was extraordinarily complex and far from one-dimensional. Now, years later, I have travelled to Spain over twenty times, lived in Pamplona, and I am a historian of early modern Spain at Penn State University.

Amanda's book list on Spain’s golden age

Amanda Scott Why did Amanda love this book?

This brand-new, prize-winning book is a gorgeous synthesis of some of the most important trends in current Iberian studies. Early modern empire-building, missionary efforts, and the African slave trade fostered a new cult of black saints, which Rowe documents through stunning photography from tiny and forgotten churches across the peninsula. In focusing on black saints and their devotees—a largely understudied part of early modern Catholic culture—Rowe not only centers and elevates the diverse and often marginalized individuals who shaped global Catholicism, but also emphasizes important conversations about race and inclusion in early modern society.

By Erin Kathleen Rowe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Saints in Early Modern Global Catholicism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, Spanish and Portuguese monarchs launched global campaigns for territory and trade. This process spurred two efforts that reshaped the world: missions to spread Christianity to the four corners of the globe, and the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. These efforts joined in unexpected ways to give rise to black saints. Erin Kathleen Rowe presents the untold story of how black saints - and the slaves who venerated them - transformed the early modern church. By exploring race, the Atlantic slave trade, and global Christianity, she provides new ways of thinking about blackness,…


Book cover of Catechism of the Catholic Church

Edward Castronova Author Of Life Is a Game: What Game Design Says about the Human Condition

From my list on tough and practical books for living well.

Why am I passionate about this?

Edward Castronova is a gamer who also has a PhD in Economics and a lifetime of research on games, technology, and society. In this book he applies everything he has learned to the burning questions at the heart of every person’s life: What am I doing here? How am I supposed to live? When Castronova faced those questions himself, the answer was clear: I have been thrown into a game called “Life” and, being a gamer, I should figure out the rules to this game and try to beat it. 

Edward's book list on tough and practical books for living well

Edward Castronova Why did Edward love this book?

Speaking of ancient wisdom: Here you have a manual of right and wrong. You’re not going to agree with all of it, or even most of it. But what I got out of reading this, before I became Catholic, was that some very smart people over the course of hundreds of years had thought through the basic norms of correct action and written them down. The catechism embeds rules for living within a larger framework of reality, built on faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God. Again, most of you aren’t going to believe that, as I didn’t when I first read the Catechism. But the critical thing is the coherence and accountability in this document. Nothing is out of place. Every rule for right action has some connection to the overarching scheme. There are no inconsistencies (this is the church’s theory, not its actions).

And by…

By No author,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Catechism of the Catholic Church as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This statement of the Catholic faith, produced by the Church after consultation throughout the world, reflects the new way that the Catholic Church has been looking at its doctrine since the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s. It should be useful for all those involved in Catholic teaching, writing, preaching and pastoral work. It should also be of significance to all ecumenical relations, Anglicans and other Christian groups.


Book cover of Flannery O'Connor Collected Works

Brian Malloy Author Of After Francesco

From my list on that mix comedy and tragedy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a gay Midwestern novelist who finds that literary fiction is often humorless, with a narrow emotional range that begins with ennui and ends in despair. If you're weary of trauma porn and want to read books with a broad emotional range, this list of recommendations is for you. My favorite writers ably mix laughter and tears, and are able to find the funny in just about anything life can throw at us. 

Brian's book list on that mix comedy and tragedy

Brian Malloy Why did Brian love this book?

If you’re older, you probably read O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” for one or more lit classes; if you’re younger, you may have never heard of her as she is now “problematic” according to the unfunny woke-on-steroids crowd. I love O’Connor because I love characters with moral failings, I love mordant humor, and I love the possibility that even the most irredeemable among us can experience moments of grace. The brief details in her stories do such heavy lifting in terms of irony, for example when a Wellesley undergrad hits Mrs. Turpin in the head with a copy of Human Development in the short story “Revelation.” The action itself – a privileged white college student from an elite school inflicting violence upon a rural white woman – also speaks to our ongoing culture wars. 

By Flannery O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flannery O'Connor Collected Works as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In her short lifetime, Flannery O’Connor became one of the most distinctive American writers of the twentieth century. By birth a native of Georgia and a Roman Catholic, O’Connor depicts, in all its comic and horrendous incongruity, the limits of worldly wisdom and the mysteries of divine grace in the “Christ-haunted” Protestant South. This Library of America collection, the most comprehensive ever published, contains all of her novels and short-story collections, as well as nine other stories, eight of her most important essays, and a selection of 259 witty, spirited, and revealing letters, twenty-one published here for the first time.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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