100 books like The Sublime Object of Ideology

By Slavoj Zizek,

Here are 100 books that The Sublime Object of Ideology fans have personally recommended if you like The Sublime Object of Ideology. 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 Black Skin, White Masks

Ilan Kapoor Author Of Global Libidinal Economy

From my list on psychoanalysis and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of global politics, and I am drawn to psychoanalysis because it studies the unseen in politics, or rather, those things that are often in plain sight but remain unacknowledged. For example, why is it that, especially in this information economy, we are well aware of the inequality and environmental destruction that our current capitalist system is based on, but we still continue to invest in it (through shopping, taking out loans, using credit cards, etc.)? Psychoanalysis says that it's because we are unconsciously seduced by capitalism—we love shopping despite knowing about the socioeconomic and environmental dangers of doing it. I’m fascinated by that process of disavowal.

Ilan's book list on psychoanalysis and politics

Ilan Kapoor Why did Ilan love this book?

This is one of the first books that “blew my mind” when I was a young university student: it remains the one I constantly return to because it seeks to understand the psychoanalytic foundations of racism under French colonialism.

Fanon was only 27 when his book was first published in 1952, but his reflections provide a stunningly passionate and layered view on how anti-Black racism (de)forms the subjectivity of both white and Black people, locking them into constructions of whiteness/blackness that require constant questioning.

His arguments on the psychoanalytic and political underpinnings of racism remain as relevant today as they were in his time.

By Frantz Fanon, Richard Philcox (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Black Skin, White Masks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few modern voices have had as profound an impact on the black identity and critical race theory as Frantz Fanon, and Black Skin, White Masks  represents some of his most important work. Fanon’s masterwork is now available in a new translation that updates its language for a new generation of readers.
A major influence on civil rights, anti-colonial, and black consciousness movements around the world, Black Skin, White Masks is the unsurpassed study of the black psyche in a white world. Hailed for its scientific analysis and poetic grace when it was first published in 1952, the book remains a…


Book cover of Capital: Volume I

William Clare Roberts Author Of Marx's Inferno: The Political Theory of Capital

From my list on understanding how power works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a teacher, a student, and a reader by trade (that is, a university professor), and I spend most of my time trying to understand social and political power: why some people have it, and others don’t, how it circulates and changes (gradually or suddenly), why it sometimes oppresses us and sometimes liberates, how it can be created and destroyed. I mostly do this by reading and teaching the history of political theory, which I am lucky enough to do at McGill University, in conversation and cooperation with some wonderful colleagues.

William's book list on understanding how power works

William Clare Roberts Why did William love this book?

I have spent more time with this book than with probably any other, and I still learn new things from it all the time.

Parts of it are very hard, but that’s because Marx is trying to show how the whole world is put into motion by economic power, money, and competition. But he also knows how to liven up even very technical parts of the argument with dark humor, arresting images, and biting sarcasm. 

By Karl Marx, Ben Fowkes (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Capital as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A groundbreaking work of economic analysis. It is also a literary masterpice' Francis Wheen, Guardian

One of the most notorious and influential works of modern times, Capital is an incisive critique of private property and the social relations it generates. Living in exile in England, where this work was largely written, Marx drew on a wide-ranging knowledge of its society to support his analysis. Arguing that capitalism would cause an ever-increasing division in wealth and welfare, he predicted its abolition and replacement by a system with common ownership of the means of production. Capital rapidly acquired readership throughout the world,…


Book cover of What is Sex?

Ilan Kapoor Author Of Global Libidinal Economy

From my list on psychoanalysis and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of global politics, and I am drawn to psychoanalysis because it studies the unseen in politics, or rather, those things that are often in plain sight but remain unacknowledged. For example, why is it that, especially in this information economy, we are well aware of the inequality and environmental destruction that our current capitalist system is based on, but we still continue to invest in it (through shopping, taking out loans, using credit cards, etc.)? Psychoanalysis says that it's because we are unconsciously seduced by capitalism—we love shopping despite knowing about the socioeconomic and environmental dangers of doing it. I’m fascinated by that process of disavowal.

Ilan's book list on psychoanalysis and politics

Ilan Kapoor Why did Ilan love this book?

This is one of the most intriguing books published in recent times, in my view, providing a lucid and beautifully written psychoanalytic account of both the strangeness and emancipatory potential of sexuality.

Sex for Zupančič is not about genital sexuality. Instead, it has an amorphous and undefinable quality to it; and this lack of meaning implies we can never get enough of it—e.g., the reason porn watchers get hooked on porn is because even the “full” view of sexual activity doesn’t quite satisfy, so one looks for more “fullness” (which one never finds) and watches more porn. And this elusiveness is what sex is about.

I love that Zupančič draws out the political potential of this viewpoint, seeing the excess and indefinability of sex as “trouble”/“troubling,” opening up ways for the subject to break out of the everyday status quo. 

By Alenka Zupancic,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What is Sex? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why sexuality is at the point of a “short circuit” between ontology and epistemology.

Consider sublimation—conventionally understood as a substitute satisfaction for missing sexual satisfaction. But what if, as Lacan claims, we can get exactly the same satisfaction that we get from sex from talking (or writing, painting, praying, or other activities)? The point is not to explain the satisfaction from talking by pointing to its sexual origin, but that the satisfaction from talking is itself sexual. The satisfaction from talking contains a key to sexual satisfaction (and not the other way around)—even a key to sexuality itself and its…


Book cover of Postcolonial Lack: Identity, Culture, Surplus

Ilan Kapoor Author Of Global Libidinal Economy

From my list on psychoanalysis and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of global politics, and I am drawn to psychoanalysis because it studies the unseen in politics, or rather, those things that are often in plain sight but remain unacknowledged. For example, why is it that, especially in this information economy, we are well aware of the inequality and environmental destruction that our current capitalist system is based on, but we still continue to invest in it (through shopping, taking out loans, using credit cards, etc.)? Psychoanalysis says that it's because we are unconsciously seduced by capitalism—we love shopping despite knowing about the socioeconomic and environmental dangers of doing it. I’m fascinated by that process of disavowal.

Ilan's book list on psychoanalysis and politics

Ilan Kapoor Why did Ilan love this book?

Relying on contemporary literary writing and films (e.g., Amitav Ghosh, Leila Aboulela, Black Panther, Gran Torino), Basu Thakur carries out a compelling psychoanalytic critique of postcoloniality (the study of global processes of exclusion and marginalization).

He reproaches it for focusing too much on questions of identity and difference (e.g., making political claims on the basis of gender, racialization, or sexual orientation). And feeding too easily into cultures of victimhood and neoliberal political economy (e.g., the commodification of women’s and racialized and LGBTQ+ people’s identities).

He stresses instead a psychoanalytic politics of lack and excess, whose negativity resists commodification and paves the way to postcolonial emancipation.

By Gautam Basu Thakur,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Postcolonial Lack reconvenes dialogue between Lacanian psychoanalysis and postcolonial theory in order to expand the range of cultural analyses of the former and make the latter theoretically relevant to the demands of contemporary narratives of othering, exclusion, and cultural appropriation. Seeking to resolve the mutual suspicion between the disciplines, Gautam Basu Thakur draws out the connections existing between Lacan's teachings on subjectivity and otherness and writings of postcolonial and decolonial theorists such as Gayatri Spivak, Frantz Fanon, and Homi Bhabha. By developing new readings of the marginalized other as radical impasse and pushing the envelope on neoliberal identity politics, the…


Book cover of A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles

John Iceland Author Of Why We Disagree about Inequality: Social Justice vs. Social Order

From my list on explaining political polarization.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Penn State professor of sociology and demography who is interested in social inequality, demography, and public opinion. My family moved frequently when I was growing up—I lived in Colombia, Greece, and Mexico. I attended Brown University and worked at the U.S. Census Bureau as an analyst and Branch Chief for several years before returning to academia. My interest in inequality dates back to living in different countries with different cultures, politics, and standards of living. While I have long been interested in the demographics of poverty and inequality, in more recent years I’ve become interested in political polarization and why people disagree about a variety of social issues.

John's book list on explaining political polarization

John Iceland Why did John love this book?

Liberals and conservatives strongly disagree on the appropriate scope of government. No book has helped me understand why more than Thomas Sowell’s Conflict of Visions.

He describes how the ideological difference results from disagreements about the malleability of human nature. The unconstrained vision, typically associated with liberals, sees human nature as altruistic and perfectible. The government should be used expansively to promote social justice and equality to realize this vision. 

In contrast, the constrained vision, typically associated with conservatives, sees human nature as limited, selfish, and imperfectible. The government should play a limited role in society, as elites cannot hope to restructure society without unintended destructive consequences.

By Thomas Sowell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Conflict of Visions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic work, Thomas Sowell analyzes the two competing visions that shape our debates about the nature of reason, justice, equality, and power: the constrained" vision, which sees human nature as unchanging and selfish, and the unconstrained" vision, in which human nature is malleable and perfectible. He describes how these two radically opposed views have manifested themselves in the political controversies of the past two centuries, including such contemporary issues as welfare reform, social justice, and crime. Updated to include sweeping political changes since its first publication in 1987, this revised edition of A Conflict of Visions offers a…


Book cover of Left and Right: The Psychological Significance of a Political Distinction

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman Author Of The Two Moralities: Conservatives, Liberals, and the Roots of Our Political Divide

From my list on the psychology behind our politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

A university professor for 40 years (now emerita), I focused my most recent research on moral psychology. I am also a political junkie, so perhaps it is no surprise that I have combined these two interests. As both a social psychologist and political psychologist, I have conducted numerous studies on the moral underpinnings of our political ideologies. In addition to two books, I have published over 90 papers, many devoted to morality and/or politics, and I was awarded a generous three-year National Science Foundation grant to study the two moralities that are discussed in my book.   

Ronnie's book list on the psychology behind our politics

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman Why did Ronnie love this book?

Social Psychologist John Jost is a giant in the field of political psychology. In this book the reader is treated to a collection of his superb essays on political ideology. 

From neuroscience to psychology and sociology, Jost draws on research to present a complete picture of the nature, role, and implications of our political ideologies. Anyone interested in politics, and political psychology in particular, would benefit from the knowledge and insights Jost offers in this book.  

By John T. Jost,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book brings together for the first time an updated, revised collection of influential essays and articles that capture some of the most exciting scientific and scholarly contributions to the topic of political ideology. John Jost tackles fundamental questions about how psychology, neuroscience, and societal factors impact political attitudes and group divisions. In what sense, if any, are ordinary citizens "ideological"? Is it useful to locate political
attitudes on a single dimension of representation? Are there meaningful differences in the beliefs, opinions, and values of leftists and rights-or liberals and conservatives? How are personality traits related to ideological preferences? What…


Book cover of The Good Human: 9 Radical Practices to Smash Your Ego, Unleash Your Authentic Self, and Foster Connection in a Divided World

Geanne Meta Author Of Parenting Well After Childhood Abuse: Be a Great Parent Even if Yours Were Crap

From my list on self-help I wish I’d read sooner.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been on a quest of healing my childhood trauma for decades. Now I’m living with gratitude and a zest for life. Let my research help you on your own unique journey. Since you’re reading this, it may be the exact time for you to move forward on your self-actualization trip! Here’s a tip: You don’t need “improvement.” You’re already good – you just need help to find it inside and believe it. Here are 5 books that helped me accept myself, made me think differently about others, and opened new possibilities for happiness and peace. 

Geanne's book list on self-help I wish I’d read sooner

Geanne Meta Why did Geanne love this book?

In a no-nonsense way, the author points out humans’ flawed thinking and ego-driven way of life proving that changes need to happen to find true happiness. She offers simple steps to recognize and deal with these flaws—acknowledging that it won't be easy. 

Because of this book, I’m interacting differently with other people! I’m trying to be grateful for everyday things, listen actively, be curious instead of reacting, and look inward when I feel triggered. This book will help you work toward empathy with people different from you, which is so important in this divisive world.

By Dawn K. Hammer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What makes a good human?

Who deserves to be called good, and who doesn’t? When did we start believing our ideas about goodness? And does being good ultimately even matter?

In The Good Human, author Dawn K. Hammer extends an invitation to dive deep into our own inner landscapes to re-discover the inherent goodness residing there. Her simple, yet profound, practices guide readers to gently question the thoughts, beliefs, and ideologies that may be keeping them stuck in fear rather than acting from love, and furthering divisions rather than fostering connections.

The Good Human teaches you how to:

Take ownership…


Book cover of The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism, Second Edition

Ronald Beiner Author Of Dangerous Minds: Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the Return of the Far Right

From my list on the intellectuals of the contemporary far right.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a political theorist recently retired from the University of Toronto. Around fall 2014, I became aware that a hyper-energetic, well-educated intelligentsia was trying to move heaven and earth to make fascism intellectually respectable again. I resolved to educate myself about these scary characters. I was truly alarmed, and wrote my book to convey my alarm to fellow citizens who hadn’t yet woken up to the threat. Sure enough, within a couple of years, Richard Spencer rose to media stardom; and one of the first things that Trump did after being elected in November of 2016 was to decide that a crypto-fascist Steve Bannon was worthy of a senior position in the White House. 

Ronald's book list on the intellectuals of the contemporary far right

Ronald Beiner Why did Ronald love this book?

A strong case can be made that Richard Wolin got the jump on the rest of us with respect to appreciating the continued relevance of the Nietzsche-inspired intellectual far right. The first edition of Seduction of Unreason was published in 2004, 14 years before I published my book. I’m humbled by the fact that it took me so long to wake up to the fact that what was dangerous about Nietzsche in the 20th century remains dangerous today.

By Richard Wolin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ever since the shocking revelations of the fascist ties of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man, postmodernism has been haunted by the specter of a compromised past. In this intellectual genealogy of the postmodern spirit, Richard Wolin shows that postmodernism's infatuation with fascism has been extensive and widespread. He questions postmodernism's claim to have inherited the mantle of the Left, suggesting instead that it has long been enamored with the opposite end of the political spectrum. Wolin reveals how, during in the 1930s, C. G. Jung, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Georges Bataille, and Maurice Blanchot were seduced by fascism's promise of political…


Book cover of In the Name of Terrorism: Presidents on Political Violence in the Post-World War II Era

Randall Fowler Author Of More Than a Doctrine: The Eisenhower Era in the Middle East

From my list on American (mis)adventures in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a Communication professor at Fresno Pacific University and former Fulbright grantee to Jordan. Growing up in west Texas I was always fascinated with other countries. I encountered Arabic in college, and I quickly fell in love with a language and society that reminded me so much of my home—in fact, the word “haboob” is used by Texas farmers and Bedouin herders alike to describe a violent dust storm. While I was teaching English in Amman, I realized how much I enjoy learning how different cultures come to understand one another. My driving passion is to explore the centuries-long rhetorical history tying Americans and Middle Easterners together in mutual webs of (mis)representation, and this topic has never been more relevant than today.

Randall's book list on American (mis)adventures in the Middle East

Randall Fowler Why did Randall love this book?

While not a book about the Middle East per se, Winkler’s In the Name of Terrorism traces the rise of terrorism as a concern in U.S. politics and charts the narratives, frames, metaphors, and rhetoric used by presidents to make sense of terrorism to the American people. Focusing specifically on the evolution of “terrorism” as a concept in the leadup to the 9/11 attacks, this book provides vital background for those who wish to understand, as George W. Bush put it, why “they” hate “us.” A wide-ranging volume that effectively bridges the Cold War and the War on Terror, readers will better appreciate the importance of the president’s language choices after finishing this captivating book.

By Carol K. Winkler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Name of Terrorism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Traces the shifts in presidential discourse on terrorism since World War II.


Book cover of Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

Amy Rowland Author Of Inside the Wolf

From my list on understanding the American South.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m from North Carolina, and Inside the Wolf is the first book I’ve written about the American South. For a long time, I resisted writing about my home state. I moved to New York and tried to write elegant New York stories. But writing is thinking for me, and I had to think through some of the stories and memories and hauntings of my youth. The books on this list have made me want to keep doing it

Amy's book list on understanding the American South

Amy Rowland Why did Amy love this book?

The sociologist Arlie Hochschild visited Louisiana many times in the years she spent researching this book, about Tea Party Christians in the small town south.

Hochschild is determined to cross what she calls the “empathy wall,” and she listens closely to residents’ resentments, which she records in ways that allow her subjects to reveal themselves and their thinking. I’ve heard arguments against this book, and most of them are less nuanced than the ones Hochschild leaves me with.

What better than a book that takes disagreements seriously and leaves you with some of your own? A book of scope and scholarship and humanity of the sort I wish there were more of.


By Arlie Russell Hochschild,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Strangers in Their Own Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country - a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets, people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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