Some books I’ve loved in 2022
On a personal note, these are some of the books I’ve loved this year:
- Experiments in Imagining Otherwise - Lola Olufemi. This book invites the reader to imagine the otherwise, how we could live our life and conceive the world differently. It reinforced the idea that by imagining and pushing the limits of what we assume “the ways things are”, collectively we can reshape the world into a better, more equitable and just place. It’s also beautifully written!
- Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of the Dead - Olga Tokarczuk. This murder mystery is different to any of the ones I’ve read before. Narrated by an older woman who struggles with the world in a isolated little town and is faced with a crime, the book also touches on the politics of vegetarianism and feminism. It’s unexpected, non-traditional, and melancholic. My kind of reading.
- This Can’t Be Happening - George Monbiot. This book was a good reminder of where we are today and how we keep shying away from the destruction we are causing the planet and ultimately all forms of life. He speaks about capitalism and economic growth as the underlying issues. While it can be an alarming/depressing book, he manages to provide hope and strongly promotes organised protest and the restructure of modern thinking and government as a solution
- How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division - Elif Shafak. “Be afraid of people who promise an easy shortcut to simplicity”. Shafak argues how we need to embrace the complexity (the reality) of what it is to be human, interact with others and the planet. She talks about how we are a collection of stories, and those stories are the ones that can bring you closer to others (rather than dividing). I really resonated with her idea of having multiple identities and belongings.
- The Island of Missing Trees - Elif Shafak. This novel is also about belonging and identity. Situated in Cyprus and London, it jumps into different times and tells a story of love between two people during the war between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. There is a fig tree, who also narrates part of the story, being witness to the love and the trauma throughout time. The perspective of the tree and how its roots end up years ahead in London, in the backyard of a girl's house, who’s never been to Cyprus, is a reminder of our past, our ancestral history, and intergenerational trauma.
- Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism - Amelia Horgan. I read this book as I was leaving my permanent job and figuring out what to do. It's an excellent read to help reflect on: what is work? How does it harm us? And what can we do about it? Lots of history of work in the UK, what we deem as ‘valuable” and women’s forced contributions in creating a functioning workforce (housework, carework). It also talks about how jobs today are presented to us as “family”, where the lines between work and life become blurry and we are lured into exploitative environments. We are not free to choose to work, we are forced to work to be able to live in this capitalist world. Unions, and actively advocating for workers rights is one of the ways of addressing this exploitative relationship between employees and employers.
- Platform Socialism: How to Reclaim our Digital Future from Big Tech - James Muldoon. I’m currently reading this one and it's making me reflect a lot. The central topic of the book is around the concept of community, and how Big Tech companies (such as Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook, Uber) reappropriate the language and grassroots movements of communities to achieve corporate goals. They pitch themselves and what they provide in favour of fostering and empowering communities, when all they really want to achieve is maximum profit at the expense of communities and people’s stories and data. This is clear and pure exploitation. Although better regulation is needed, the author pushes beyond that and argues that digital platforms that have become global means in which people rely on to connect and live fulfilling lives, should be made into a public utility. He shows examples of where in previous history water, gas, electricity, transport, and healthcare companies have been transformed from private to public, becoming public utilities. It is possible, but what does that look like for platforms such as Google and Facebook where the value is not so much at a local level and more on its global reach?
To finish off, here are some podcasts I’ve also enjoyed in 2022: