Essential Reads Fall/Winter 2021-22

To celebrate University Press Week, we’re sharing our latest Essential Reads, publishing this fall and winter.

The twelve books we’ve highlighted here offer a general audience a depth of understanding across a wide range of important subjects. Read on to find out which books we’ve chosen, and our reasons for choosing them. 

Taken together, they represent the unique and diverse output our University Presses offer, and enable a broad readership to learn about, understand and #KeepUP with current news, trends, and issues.

A Vulnerable System

As hacking and viruses become a bigger threat to us and society more widely, we also face bigger risks to the confidentiality of our personal data. Working out how we got to this point and, more importantly, how we get out of it is essential as we move forward in this technological age. 

Cornell University Press


A book for anyone facing a mountain of injustice. Complaint! offers a systematic analysis of the methods used to stop complaints and a powerful and poetic meditation on what complaints can be used to do. Powerful and relevant for right now, as we attempt to understand and break down unjust institutional structures.

Duke University Press

The Decarbonization Imperative

An insightful response to the existential threat of climate change, outlining the radical changes we require from the industries contributing the most to the climate crisis. Especially as we’ve followed the updates from COP26, we recommend this book for those interested to learn if ‘clean tech’ can help meet the target of decarbonization by 2050.

Stanford University Press

When the Iron Bird Flies

The first history to reveal the truth about the six-year war between China and Tibet which led to the destruction of so much of Tibetan culture and the exile of the 14th Dalai Lama. Essential reading for understanding Tibet today.

Stanford University Press

“Beyond the Law”

“Beyond the Law” shows us an LGBT history of Britain that most people don’t know and the even more behind-the-scenes work done to save loved ones from a law that was grossly unfair.

Temple University Press

Our Grateful Dead

Losing a loved one is a painful inevitability for all of us, from which it can feel difficult to move on. Our Grateful Dead highlights the importance of connection in our lives, even after someone passes, but more importantly, that this is okay.

University of Minnesota Press


Incredibly engaging from the start, this is a great example of how stories from the past can help empower us against very real threats, and the many toxic forms of tyranny, in our modern world.

Stanford University Press

Profit over Privacy

Our data is used for far more than we understand. This book provides an outline of just how large this unseen infrastructure is but how we can help to change the internet for the better for future generations.

University of Minnesota Press

Mutiny on the Rising Sun

A page-turning account of a mutiny off the South American coast in 1743 which reveals a history of smuggling in the Atlantic world.  A must-read for anyone interested in how smuggling underscored empires and bolstered slavery.

New York University Press

Gasoline Dreams

When trying to look into sustainable living, it can become quite overwhelming. Gasoline Dreams focuses on our dependency to petroleum and looks at how we can move away from this fuel source. A practical, applicable, climate conscious graphic novel, what’s not to love?

Fordham University Press

Teaching Black History to White People

Exactly what it says on the tin. An incredible read from an experienced teacher and author, proving that we’re not always taught the whole truth in schools and that learning about this will definitely help the world become a better place.

University of Texas Press

For a New Geography

Translated into English for the first time, it could not be more relevant, arriving at a time of renewed interest in anti-colonialism. Making a case for a new geography linked to global social justice, this book is a milestone in the history of critical geography and Milton Santos (1926–2001) was one of twentieth-century geography’s most creative conceptual thinkers. 

University of Minnesota Press

It was almost impossible to narrow down our list of Essential Reads to just 12 titles, so here are some that made the longlist:

Order any of our Essential Reads with a 25% discount using code ESSENTIAL21