The most recommended books on postmodernism

Who picked these books? Meet our 36 experts.

36 authors created a book list connected to postmodernism, and here are their favorite postmodernism books.
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What type of postmodernism book?


The Illuminatus! Trilogy

By Robert Shea, Robert Anton Williams,

Book cover of The Illuminatus! Trilogy

Marc E. Fitch Author Of Boy in the Box

From the list on brilliantly bat-shit stories.

Who am I?

I read widely and in many genres, so coming up with a thematic list was a difficult task. However, in working on my forthcoming novel Dead Ends, in which a quiet neighborhood descends into paranoia and insanity driven by fear, politics, and technology, I sought out novels that engaged with conspiratorial thinking and violence. I admire writers who don’t hold back and fully engage with their characters and material, particularly if it means going to dark, imaginative and strange places in their work. Please keep an eye out for Dead Ends, coming from Flame Tree Press in 2023.

Marc's book list on brilliantly bat-shit stories

Why did Marc love this book?

This trilogy collection is perhaps the granddaddy of conspiracy novels because, frankly, it encompasses nearly all of them — at least at the time it was written — then weaves in fictional mythos, occult religions, fascist political movements, and a post-modern deconstruction of itself. It’s equal parts fun, crazy, confusing, and challenging. The fact that Shea and Wilson had the capacity to create such a mammoth work encompassing so many far-reaching, interconnecting lines of conspiratorial thought makes it work to behold, not only for its brilliance but also for its influence. This is not The DaVinci Code; it’s bigger, deeper, more imaginative, and more complex.

By Robert Shea, Robert Anton Williams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Illuminatus! Trilogy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Filled with sex and violence--in and out of time and space--the three books of The Illuminatus are only partly works of the imagination. They tackle all the coverups of our time--from who really shot the Kennedys to why there's a pyramid on a one-dollar bill.

At Swim-Two-Birds

By Flann O'Brien,

Book cover of At Swim-Two-Birds

Daniel Ben-Horin Author Of Substantial Justice

From the list on funny international classics you (may) have not heard of.

Who am I?

Humor is based on surprise and the ‘foreign’ is often surprising. As I traveled all over the world for work, I searched out local authors and found myself laughing. It started with At Swim Two Birds and has never stopped.

Daniel's book list on funny international classics you (may) have not heard of

Why did Daniel love this book?

In the summer of 1968, I was 20 and spent the summer pretty much banally in Israel and Europe. Around me, the world was on fire, but I was inside my own head.

Eventually, I washed up in Dublin, where I walked in a cold rain to Dorset Street, there to recreate Leopold Bloom’s pork kidney purchase from Dlugacz, the butcher. There was no Dlugacz on Dorset, but there was another butcher who stuffed into stiff pink butcher paper something that glistened and oozed. My plan was to fry it up, as Leopold had, on the hotplate in my rented room. It did not go well. I was felled intestinally in dramatic fashion; pity there was no one to observe. 

Somehow, in my travels, I had obtained a copy of At Swim Two-Birds, and now, my insides recreating The Troubles, I wanly reached for it and read the first paragraph:…

By Flann O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked At Swim-Two-Birds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A wildly comic send-up of Irish literature and culture, At Swim-Two-Birds is the story of a young, lazy, and frequently drunk Irish college student who lives with his curmudgeonly uncle in Dublin. When not in bed (where he seems to spend most of his time) or reading he is composing a mischief-filled novel about Dermot Trellis, a second-rate author whose characters ultimately rebel against him and seek vengeance. From drugging him as he sleeps to dropping the ceiling on his head, these figures of Irish myth make Trellis pay dearly for his bad writing. Hilariously funny and inventive, At Swim-Two-Birds…

The Dead Father

By Donald Barthelme,

Book cover of The Dead Father

James W. Morris Author Of Rude Baby

From the list on literary fiction to laugh out loud.

Who am I?

As a kid, I wrote a series of plays with my family as characters. Everyone (even the dog and cat) had lines that demonstrated their quirks, except me—the sane and reasonable one. When I performed these playlets for my mother (performing all parts, since no one else would co-operate) she laughed so hard she cried, and it’s fair to say my subsequent writing career has been an attempt to recapture the feelings that experience generated. Beginning as a joke writer (including a stint working for Jay Leno), I now focus on literary fiction, though humor is always a part of my work.

James' book list on literary fiction to laugh out loud

Why did James love this book?

I studied the post-modernists in college, and find Barthelme to be the funniest and most likable of that group. His collection of short fiction, Sixty Stories, is my desert island book, but he also wrote a few novels that I like, especially The Dead Father. The dead father looms large in the ethos of his society, and is also literally big—3,200 cubits long. And the dead father is not really dead—though all agree he’s past his prime. So, a road trip is organized: nineteen of his followers attach a cable to drag the massive, complaining figure to a cliff at the edge of the world. A truly witty and absurd little book.

By Donald Barthelme,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Dead Father is a gargantuan half-dead, half-alive, part mechanical, wise, vain, powerful being who still has hopes for himself--even while he is being dragged by means of a cable toward a mysterious goal. In this extraordinary novel, marked by the imaginative use of language that influenced a generation of fiction writers, Donald Barthelme offered a glimpse into his fictional universe. As Donald Antrim writes in his introduction, "Reading The Dead Father, one has the sense that its author enjoys an almost complete artistic freedom . . . a permission to reshape, misrepresent, or even ignore the world as we…

Book cover of The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game

David Sobel Author Of Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors

From the list on bonding your children with nature.

Who am I?

In 1972, I started an early childhood center in the Monadnock Region in New Hampshire. The focus was on child-centered education, with an emphasis on working with children outdoors. I've spent the last 50 years continuing to connect children with nature in schools, nature centers, national parks, museums, and in families. I taught graduate courses in developmental psychology, cognitive development, place-based education and have done hundreds of professional development workshops for early childhood and elementary school teachers. As a father, I focused on connecting my own children with nature. My son is a ski coach and runs an ecotourism kayaking business. My daughter is a theater director and writes grants for an environmental non-profit. 

David's book list on bonding your children with nature

Why did David love this book?

The course I took from Paul Shepard in college was one of the most thought-provoking courses I ever experienced. Find an image of the original cover of the book and you'll see what I mean—it's a strange synthesis of a post-modern bow hunter emerging from his paleo ancestor. Shepard contends that the key to understanding human happiness is recognizing that we are genetically hunters and gatherers living in a post-modern age. Reclaiming our hunting and gathering impulses will help us lead fuller lives. He does a fascinating job, in this book, of describing what hunting and gathering culture childhoods looked like and then suggesting how we should parent our children with these old genetic impulses in mind. 

By Paul Shepard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In what may be his boldest and most controversial book, Paul Shepard presents an account of human behavior and ecology in light of our past. In it, he contends that agriculture is responsible for our ecological decline and looks to the hunting and gathering lifestyle as a model more closely in tune with our essential nature. Shepard advocates affirming the profound and beautiful nature of the hunter and gatherer, redefining agriculture and combining technology with hunting and gathering to recover a livable environment and peaceful society.

The Horror Film

By Stephen Prince,

Book cover of The Horror Film

Brian E. Crim Author Of Planet Auschwitz: Holocaust Representation in Science Fiction and Horror Film and Television

From the list on the history of horror and science fiction.

Who am I?

I am a historian of twentieth century Germany and the Holocaust, but I am also a voracious consumer of popular culture. How do I justify spending so much time watching and analyzing horror and science fiction film and television? Well, write a book about it, of course. The first thing I realized is that many other brilliant scholars have thought about why this imagery permeates contemporary culture, even if I asked different questions about why. I hope you are as inspired and enlightened by this book list as I was.

Brian's book list on the history of horror and science fiction

Why did Brian love this book?

The great film scholar Stephen Prince brings together over a dozen experts on the horror genre, contributing chapters on everything from the silent film era to postmodernism, the military horror film, and the Holocaust. The book is a must for anyone who wants to look beyond the screams and gore and understand why the genre speaks to us on more than just a visceral level. 

By Stephen Prince,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Here, Stephen Prince has collected essays reviewing the history of the horror film and the psychological reasons for its persistent appeal, as well as discussions of the developmental responses of children and young adult viewers to the genre. The book focuses on recent post-modern examples such as ""The Blair Witch Project"". Controversially, the book also includes a discussion of Holocaust films in relation to horror. Part One features essays on the silent and classical Hollywood eras. Part Two focuses on the post World War II era and examines the historical, aesthetic and psychological characteristics of contemporary horror films. In contrast…

Book cover of The Life and Opinions of Maximilien Robespierre

Colin Jones Author Of The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris

From the list on the life of Maximilien Robespierre.

Who am I?

France has always been my special inspiration in life and I am lucky to have made a career writing about its history. Many of my books are framed in a long-term perspective. Paris: Biography of a City (2004)  and The Cambridge Illustrated History of France (1994), for example, take the story back to the earliest times and comes up to the present. Wanting a complete change and a new challenge, I shifted focus dramatically in my current book: the history of a city in a single day – the dramatic day in the French Revolution when the Parisians overthrew Maximilien Robespierre.

Colin's book list on the life of Maximilien Robespierre

Why did Colin love this book?

This is my own favourite. Realising that he could not make up his mind whether he loved Robespierre or hated him, Hampson staged his own dilemma by presenting Robespierre’s life through an imagined set of conversations between a version of himself and three fictional members of the public. Witty and insightful and superbly researched below the water-line, this brilliantly experimental biography is a neglected masterpiece.

By Norman Hampson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Life and Opinions of Maximilien Robespierre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This investigation into the mind of Robespierre is now available in paperback. The book is presented as a discussion between three figures - a civil servant, a member of the Communist Party and a clergyman - representing different viewpoints in their reactions to evidence presented by a fourth figure, the narrator. In this way, the author sets out to display the contradictions in the character of Robespierre that so puzzled his contemporaries and continue to perplex historians. The book should be of interest to students of the French Revolution and general readers.

In the Miso Soup

By Ryu Murakami, Ralph McCarthy (translator),

Book cover of In the Miso Soup

Brian Klingborg Author Of Thief of Souls

From the list on international crime both fiction and nonfiction.

Who am I?

I grew up in a small town in the days before the internet and cable television, so books were my escape, and through them, I traveled to faraway places and learned about different customs and cultures. Later, I studied Chinese cultural anthropology and lived and worked in Asia for many years. Now, I write a series about a Chinese police inspector in the brutally cold far north province of Heilongjiang and use mystery stories to unpack some of the more fascinating and essential aspects of Chinese society, politics, and religion.

Brian's book list on international crime both fiction and nonfiction

Why did Brian love this book?

Ryu Murakami is a musician, writer, and film director. He deals in surrealism and the dark side of a rigid Japanese society – drugs, sex, alienation. 

In this book, Murakami relates the tale of Kenji, a young man who makes his living guiding foreigners through Tokyo’s red-light district. Kenji’s new client is an extremely odd American named Frank.

As Kenji leads Frank through a labyrinth of hostess bars and peep shows, he comes to suspect that Frank may be the serial killer who has been on a rampage, murdering and dismembering teenage girls.

By Ryu Murakami, Ralph McCarthy (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In the Miso Soup as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From postmodern Renaissance man Ryu Murakami, master of the psychothriller and director of Tokyo Decadence, comes this hair-raising roller-coaster ride through the nefarious neon-lit world of Tokyo's sex industry. In the Miso Soup tells of Frank, an overweight American tourist who has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo's sleazy nightlife. But Frank's behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion-that his new client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It is not until later, however, that Kenji learns exactly how much he has to fear and how…

Fashionable Nonsense

By Alan Sokal, Jean Bricmont,

Book cover of Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science

Richard Farr Author Of You Are Here: A User's Guide to the Universe

From the list on how science actually works… or doesn’t.

Who am I?

I was once an academic philosopher, but I found it too glamorous and well-paid so I became a novelist and private intellectual mentor instead. I wrote You Are Here because I love what science knows, but an interest in how science knows drew me into the philosophy of science, where a puzzle lurks. Scientists claim that the essence of their craft is captured in a 17th Century formula, “the scientific method”... and in a 20th Century litmus test, “falsifiability.” Philosophers claim that these two ideas are (a) both nonsense and (b) in any case mutually contradictory. So what’s going on? 

Richard's book list on how science actually works… or doesn’t

Why did Richard love this book?

This is, first, a jeremiad against the cheerful scientific ignorance on display in so much postmodernist philosophy. I admit to having enjoyed the critique—it’s razor sharp and often funny. But you don’t have to be interested in postmodernism to enjoy what emerges from this: a wonderfully clear, readable, undogmatic discussion of what characterizes good (and bad) scientific practice in a wide variety of disciplines. The authors usefully compare science to a criminal investigation. Science, they say, is simply “a rational response to investigation under complex uncertainty”—but detective work is an art, and (a jab at Karl Popper here) “no one has written a definitive treatise on The Logic of Criminal Investigation.”

By Alan Sokal, Jean Bricmont,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1996 physicist Alan Sokal published an essay in Social Text--an influential academic journal of cultural studies--touting the deep similarities between quantum gravitational theory and postmodern philosophy.

Soon thereafter, the essay was revealed as a brilliant parody, a catalog of nonsense written in the cutting-edge but impenetrable lingo of postmodern theorists. The event sparked a furious debate in academic circles and made the headlines of newspapers in the U.S. and abroad.

In Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science, Sokal and his fellow physicist Jean Bricmont expand from where the hoax left off. In a delightfully witty and clear voice,…

Ratner's Star

By Don DeLillo,

Book cover of Ratner's Star

Cat Jordan Author Of Eight Days on Planet Earth

From the list on with aliens that are not science fiction.

Who am I?

When I was growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania, my father and I watched Star Trek reruns together. He was so busy traveling all over the world with his job that our time watching Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock was precious to me. I loved it so much that I built my own Enterprise models and sewed a boxful of tribbles. More importantly, that show led me to reading tons of science fiction - everything from Isaac Asimov to Douglas Adams - and, of course, watching every Star Trek sequel ever made. Live long and prosper.

Cat's book list on with aliens that are not science fiction

Why did Cat love this book?

This is a big sprawling story. Do you love books like that or hate them? I love them because they feel like giant puzzles: you kind of lose yourself in them and enjoy the constant twists and turns. DeLillo is a postmodern master so you can trust that he has it all under control. In this book, Billy, a teen mathematician prodigy, wins the Nobel Prize in Mathematics and is spirited away to help decipher a mysterious message from aliens. It’s been compared to Alice in Wonderland for its down-the-rabbit-hole and through-the-looking-glass aspects of plot twists and characters. What makes this satire accessible, however, is the comedy. Billy is us, the readers, and he takes us on a philosophical journey while being surrounded by the strangest of characters.

By Don DeLillo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Billy Twillig, a genius adolescent, wins the first Nobel Prize ever to be given in mathematics, he is recruited to live and work in the company of thirty Nobel laureates in obscurity underground. There, away from the rest of the world, this panel of estranged, demented and lovable scientists work together on a secret scientific project: deciphering a mysterious transmission received from outer space, from just near Ratner's Star.

Written in Don DeLillo's characteristically mesmerizing prose, Ratner's Star is a brilliantly observed, funny and deeply thought-provoking novel which explores the mysterious, mind-blowing, mathematical world of the future.

The Problem of Alzheimer's

By Jason Karlawish, Jason Karlawish,

Book cover of The Problem of Alzheimer's: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease Into a Crisis and What We Can Do about It

Andrew E. Budson and Maureen K. O'Connor Author Of Six Steps to Managing Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: A Guide for Families

From the list on to understand dementia.

Who are we?

As a neurologist and neuropsychologist team who have spent their entire clinical, teaching, and research careers focused on individuals and their families experiencing memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia, our goal is simple. We want to empower individuals and their families with the tools they need to manage memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. We work to balance pharmacological and nonpharmacological management, as well as the needs of the individual with those of their family. Reading books like the ones in our list plus articles in medical journals keeps us current with the progress in the science of dementia and the humanity of individuals and families living with the disease. 

Andrew's book list on to understand dementia

Why did Andrew love this book?

First, this book provides a wonderful history of the important discoveries of the different aspects of the disease. You also learn the stories behind many aspects of the disease that are now taken for granted—even with our 25+ years of treating people with this disease and conducting research to understand it better, we learned a lot. Dr. Karlawish also explains why research into dementia languished for more than 50 years. Finally, he raises many thought-provoking ethical issues that people with dementia, doctors, and society will need to wrestle with if we are going to solve “The Problem of Alzheimer’s.” 

By Jason Karlawish, Jason Karlawish,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Problem of Alzheimer's as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A definitive and compelling book on one of today's most prevalent illnesses.

In 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans had Alzheimer’s, and more than half a million died because of the disease and its devastating complications. 16 million caregivers are responsible for paying as much as half of the $226 billion annual costs of their care. As more people live beyond their seventies and eighties, the number of patients will rise to an estimated 13.8 million by 2050.

Part case studies, part meditation on the past, present and future of the disease, The Problem of Alzheimer's traces Alzheimer’s from its…

Contemporary Reflections on Business Ethics

By Ronald Duska, Norman E. Bowie (editor), Patricia H. Werhane (editor)

Book cover of Contemporary Reflections on Business Ethics

Kleio Akrivou Author Of The Challenges of Capitalism for Virtue Ethics and the Common Good: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

From the list on capitalism, ethics, and the self.

Who am I?

I have cross-disciplinary expertise (ethics and moral philosophy, philosophical anthropology and moral psychology), and my work focuses on personalist virtue ethics, moral human development, and the links between ethics and economics; I am a person who loves nature and animals, and I’m thrilled to do good work. I was educated and worked internationally, with academic degrees in different Europe countries and the USA, and 30 years of work and academic experience in Europe, the USA, and SE Asia. I live with my family near London, U.K.. I am passionate about enabling a more sustainable society that however remains rooted in human dignity and avoids instrumentalizing the person

Kleio's book list on capitalism, ethics, and the self

Why did Kleio love this book?

An admirably internally coherent book with a rigorous and philosophically informed proposal to restore ethical business premised on altruism as an underlying force of agency. 

It also supports the idea that more classical (i.e Aristotle’s virtue ethics) rather than the modern ethics (utility, duty, social contract, etc.) foundations are stronger.

By Ronald Duska, Norman E. Bowie (editor), Patricia H. Werhane (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Contemporary Reflections on Business Ethics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over 30 years Ronald F. Duska has established himself as one of the leading scholars in business ethics. This book presents Duska's articles the years on ethics, business ethics, teaching ethics, agency theory, postmodernism, employee rights, and ethics in accounting and the financial services industry. These reflect his underlying philosophical concerns and their application to real-world challenges - a method that might be called an Aristotelian common-sense approach to ethical decision making.

Book cover of The Condition of Postmodernity

Sonia A. Hirt Author Of Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulation

From the list on time, space, and modern urbanism.

Who am I?

I love cities and I teach about them. I was born in the capital of Sofia, Bulgaria, and landed in the US (mostly by chance) in 1993. Spent most of my professional life in US academia (Michigan, Virginia Tech, Harvard, Maryland, and now Georgia). I never stopped wondering how cities change and why American cities look and function so differently than European cities. So, I wrote a few books about cities, including Iron Curtains; Gates, Suburbs and Privatization of Space, which is about changes in East European Cities after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Sonia's book list on time, space, and modern urbanism

Why did Sonia love this book?

A sweeping study and critique of modern culture! If you are looking for a comprehensive and passionate analysis of time and space in the “late capitalist era,” this is the one to read. Nobody has written more authoritatively on modern and post-modern “time-space compression” (you have to read the book to see what this means). Harvey’s intellectual breadth and depth are astonishing. No wonder he is one of the most cited scholars of our time.

By David Harvey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this new book, David Harvey seeks to determine what is meant by the term in its different contexts and to identify how accurate and useful it is as a description of contemporary experience.

Book cover of The French Lieutenant's Woman

Joy Sheridan Author Of Charity Amour

From the list on the French Revolution.

Who am I?

I have always been fascinated by the Regency Period, and because of this fascination, I explored its historical context in full. That includes, of course, the French Revolution and its repercussions in England and globally. I am also obsessed with the literary concept of the heroine, and wanted to create characters who in some ways synthesized Moll Flanders and Jane Eyre, bridging the gap between 18th and 19th Century expression.

Joy's book list on the French Revolution

Why did Joy love this book?

I was utterly captivated by Meryl Streep’s performance in the film; I had to read the book. Great plot line with its revolutionary intrigue. My heart warmed utterly to Sarah Woodruff, and the mysterious, charismatic qualities she so powerfully radiated. She was a powerful fractional role model for Charity’s character.   

By John Fowles,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The French Lieutenant's Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As part of Back Bay's ongoing effort to make the works of John Fowles available in uniform trade paperback editions, two major works in the Fowles canon are reissued to coincide with the publication of Wormholes, the author's long-awaited new collection of essays and occasional writings.Perhaps the most beloved of Fowles's internationally bestselling works, The French Lieutenant's Woman is a feat of seductive storytelling that effectively invents anew the Victorian novel. "Filled with enchanting mysteries and magically erotic possibilities" (New York Times), the novel inspired the hugely successful 1981 film starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons and is today universally…

On Looking into the Abyss

By Gertrude Himmelfarb,

Book cover of On Looking into the Abyss: Untimely Thoughts on Culture and Society

László Borhi Author Of Hungary in the Cold War, 1945-1956: Between the United States and the Soviet Union

From the list on the search for truth in history.

Who am I?

I come from a small country, Hungary, the past of which was consciously falsified in the political system under which I grew up. Some chapters of it, like the cold war period, Soviet rule, the revolution of 1956 couldn't even be discussed. I was lucky because communism collapsed and archives were gradually opened just as I started my career as a historian. Books on international history are usually written from the perspective of the powerful states, I was interested in looking at this story from the perspective of the small guy. Writing this book was both a professional challenge and a personal matter for me. I'm currently a professor at Indiana University-Bloomington.

László's book list on the search for truth in history

Why did László love this book?

This book is the symbol of intellectual brilliance and honesty and one which argues that if we are to preserve western civilization, we must restore historical truth as the center of historical inquiry.

I will advertise this magnificent book with a quote: “Looking into the most fearsome abysses of modern times, the historian sees not beasts but faceless bureaucrats, not corpses but statistics, not willful acts of brutality and murder but the banal routine of everyday life, not gas chambers and gulags but military-industrial-geopolitical complexes.” The reader also will learn why. 

The reader also will learn why footnotes disappeared from history books. A book to be enjoyed and savored when in a contemplative mood.

By Gertrude Himmelfarb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Looking into the Abyss as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discusses the intellectual arrogance and spiritual impoverishment at the heart of structuralism, deconstructionism, and postmodernism, and shows how they have led to the belittling of the Holocaust

Der Nackte Mensch

By Gottfried Bammes,

Book cover of Der Nackte Mensch: Hand- und Lehrbuch der Anatomie fur Kunstler

Uldis Zarins Author Of Anatomy For Sculptors: Understanding the Human Figure

From the list on human anatomy for artists.

Who am I?

I’m a traditional sculptor with more than 25 years of experience. Being a dyslectic student in the 2000s, I developed a systematic approach to translating medical anatomy texts into visual information that I could use while sculpting.  All the anatomy books for artists at the time were text-centered. My reference sketches became quite popular among colleagues. It was clear that visual artists perceive information best when it’s visual, and that is how I got the idea for my first book. Now the Anatomy for Sculptors handbooks are bestsellers among visual artists striving to better understand the human form.

Uldis' book list on human anatomy for artists

Why did Uldis love this book?

While the West was busy with postmodernism, the Soviet world cultivated social realism based on the 19th-century figurative tradition of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. East Germany was no exception with its own figurative tradition at Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. Gottfried Bammes was a professor of art there, and he further developed classical anatomy studies by introducing a more scientific approach. Illustrations in Der Nackte Mensch are precisely measured and reliable, and each of them introduces a new way to look at human anatomy. Concepts such as wire-framing and splitting organic form into geometric shapes appear here. This book is full of ideas, and it has been a huge influence on how I perceive human anatomy. Gottfried Bammes is, in my opinion, the greatest anatomist of the 20th century!

By Gottfried Bammes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gottfried Bamme - The naked man. Hand and textbook of anatomy for artists VEB Verlag of Art | 1982 | ISBN: 3364000166 | German | 480 pages Shown with special reference of their own tasks, objectives and methodological problems. With around 840 individual anatomical drawings by the author, over 120 examples of masterpieces of the fine arts, model 190 single shots and many students work.

Book cover of Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism

Carolyn L. Kane Author Of Electrographic Architecture: New York Color, Las Vegas Light, and America's White Imaginary

From the list on how and why things are chosen as beautiful.

Who am I?

Understanding the world is important for everyone. For me, it takes the form of analyzing colorful images and artifacts in the built environment. In the broad traditions of the global northwest, color is regarded as deceptive and unreliable. For centuries now, and throughout disparate media and technical systems, color has had to maintain this secondary, subordinate status as “other,” linked to falsity, manipulation, and deceit or, to quote David Batchelor, “some ‘foreign’ body". In my work, I argue that we have all inherited this tradition in the global northwest, fetishizing color as both excessive and yet indispensable in its capacity to retroactively confirm the sanctity of what it is not.

Carolyn's book list on how and why things are chosen as beautiful

Why did Carolyn love this book?

Fredric Jameson’s Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism was one of the first accounts of “postmodern aesthetics” and why it continues to matter today.

Circa 1990, Jameson showed how a new age of high-tech and transnational corporations fundamentally transformed how we create and experience art, design, and aesthetics.

By Fredric Jameson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in paperback, Fredric Jameson's most wide-ranging work seeks to crystalize a definition of "postmodernism". Jameson's inquiry looks at the postmodern across a wide landscape, from "high" art to "low" from market ideology to architecture, from painting to "punk" film, from video art to literature.


By Edward W. Soja,

Book cover of Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places

Paul Ong Author Of Uneven Urbanscape: Spatial Structures and Ethnoracial Inequality

From the list on the underlying foundation of racialized spaces.

Who am I?

I am an engaged scholar fighting racism. As a person of color, an Asian American raised in Chinatown and a low-income Black neighborhood, the fight is personal. My parents and those before them suffered from and struggled against discriminatory immigration laws that fractured and separated family members. My research and publications as a university professor are tools for exposing and redressing racial injustices, producing and sharing knowledge that leads to reconciliation and restorative justice.  

Paul's book list on the underlying foundation of racialized spaces

Why did Paul love this book?

Renowned geographer Soja presents an intriguing interpretation of the underlying forces shaping the urban landscape.

Using a blend of critical and postmodern theories, he reconceptualizes the meaning, organization, and use of space in the production of societal inequality within capitalist societies, including but not limited to race.

Equally important to me is the discussion about the system’s inherent contradictions and the phenomenon of active resistance against repression. 

By Edward W. Soja,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Contemporary critical studies have recently experienced a significant spatial turn. In what may eventually be seen as one of the most important intellectual and political developments in the late twentieth century, scholars have begun to interpret space and the embracing spatiality of human life with the same critical insight and emphasis that has traditionally been given to time and history on the one hand, and social relations and society on the other. Thirdspace is both an enquiry into the origins and impact of the spatial turn and an attempt to expand the scope and practical relevance of how we think…

Renewing the Covenant

By Eugene B. Borowitz,

Book cover of Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew

Kerry M. Olitzky Author Of The Sisters Z

From the list on introducing Jewish ideas to others.

Who am I?

I am a rabbi, educator, scholar and author who has led congregations, organizations and taught in rabbinical seminaries. As a result, I have always straddled the world of the practitioner and the academician. These books have informed my personal religious practice and outlook, as well as my academic approach to Judaism.

Kerry's book list on introducing Jewish ideas to others

Why did Kerry love this book?

Eugene Borowitz was the leading liberal Jewish theologian of the 20th and early 21st century. Although this book may be challenging for those disinclined to read dense theology, it is presented in a more popular way and contains a theology that has informed the lives of many Jews, including myself. 

By Eugene B. Borowitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Borowitz creatively explores his theory of Covenant, linking self to folk and God through the contemporary idiom of relationship.

If On A Winter's Night A Traveler

By Italo Calvino, William Weaver (translator),

Book cover of If On A Winter's Night A Traveler

Nat Luurtsema Author Of Opie Jones Talks to Animals

From the list on reads in bed when it’s raining outside.

Who am I?

I’m an outdoors-loving person but I'm writing this in the last gasps of winter and I'm done with being cold. The best answer to a long winter has always been curling up somewhere warm with a book that makes me forget about the rest of the world. My books – it was pointed out to me recently – are usually set in the middle of summer because I think deep down I will always love a long summer holiday. (As I write this, I also realise there’s a lot of Famous Five in my DNA too.) Books you read as a kid do stick with you your whole life and can really form your personality.

Nat's book list on reads in bed when it’s raining outside

Why did Nat love this book?

This book is a gift to anyone with writer’s block.

It’s a book full of first chapters and leaves you constantly thinking, “what happens next?!” which is the perfect prompt to make you write stories of your own. Plus, who wants to be a lonely traveler on a winter’s night?

So chilly and dark out. Stay in bed.

By Italo Calvino, William Weaver (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked If On A Winter's Night A Traveler as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel...Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade." —from If On A Winter's Night a Traveler

Italo Calvino's stunning classic imagines a novel capable of endless possibilities in an intricately crafted, spellbinding story about writing and reading.

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler is a feat of striking ingenuity and intelligence, exploring how our reading choices can shape and transform our lives. Originally published in 1979, Italo Calvino's singular novel crafted a postmodern narrative like never seen before—offering not one novel but ten, each with a…


By Salman Rushdie,

Book cover of Quichotte

Brian Finney Author Of Dangerous Conjectures

From the list on novels I read during the pandemic.

Who am I?

I spent the first half of my life in England and the second half in the United States, or more specifically in Venice, California, a unique and unusual community. While working for London University I made several research trips to the US. Eventually, I immigrated to the States, where I taught at several universities in Southern California. Once I stopped teaching full-time, I surprised myself by writing two suspense novels (a genre I had spent most of my life analyzing), Money Matters and Dangerous Conjectures. The second novel was written during the pandemic and takes place during the early rise of the virus.

Brian's book list on novels I read during the pandemic

Why did Brian love this book?

By 2020 the boundary between fantasy and reality had become virtually erased. Confined to home, we all found ourselves the targets of conspiracy theories. Even the president scoffed at the dangers of the coronavirus. Rushdie’s spoof of Cervantes’ Don Quixote features an updated avatar of Quixote whose reality has been formed by tv soap operas. He is “deranged by reality television,” and in love with a talk show celebrity. Driving across America to reach her he encounters “the pollution of the real by the unreal.” In fact, he himself turns out to be the fictional creation of another major character, an author who is soon exposed to be no less fictional. But this is Rushdie in whose ludic novels the material unreal is the imaginative real.

By Salman Rushdie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



Booker Prize-winning, internationally bestselling author Salman Rushdie has created a dazzling Don Quixote for the modern age.

Inspired by the Cervantes classic, Sam DuChamp, mediocre writer of spy thrillers, creates Quichotte, a courtly, addled salesman obsessed with television, who falls in impossible love with the TV star Salman R. Together with his (imaginary) son Sancho, Quichotte sets off on a picaresque quest across America to prove worthy of her hand, gallantly braving the tragicomic perils of an age where 'Anything-Can-Happen'. Meanwhile his creator, in a midlife crisis, has equally urgent challenges of…