Essential Reads: Fall/Winter 2022-23

Here are our latest essential reads as we head into the new season.

As ever, these twelve books offer a general audience a depth of understanding across a wide range of important, often timely, 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.

Use the code ESSENTIAL22 for 20% discount on any of our essential picks:

African Meditations

Beautifully written and thought-provoking, African Meditations weaves together autobiography, journal entries, fiction, aphorisms, humour and Zen reflections in one short mesmerising volume. We found this book deeply enriching with its blend of subtle imagery and universal wisdom which accompanied this unique and fascinating portrait of an influential thinker on a spiritual quest. An absolute joy to read, a beguilingly simple book which takes root and grows.

University of Minnesota Press

Data Cartels

As we are all too aware, in today’s digital world, data is power. This book gives a vast insight into the depths of the, largely anonymous, data industry. They can control data, prevent free flow of information, exploit outdated information or distribute private information to predatory entities – all perfectly legally. Lamdan explains just how pervasive this industry is, and even more scarily, how this is actively affecting democracy around the world. While it can seem scary, with Lamdan’s expertise, this is definitely a hopeful look at how we can make this industry better.

Stanford University Press


Hereafter is the story of Ellen O’Hara, a young emigrant from Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century who, with courage and resilience, made a life for herself in New York while financially supporting her family at home. Her story is told by Vona Groarke, her great-granddaughter and one of Ireland’s most revered poets. It is also the story of the writer’s own quest to piece together a narrative of a life about which so few records are available. It is a beautiful blend of poetry, prose and history. The writing is wonderful and the playful concepts capture the dilemmas involved in both writing biography and communicating an historical experience. For all this it feels authentic and has an integrity in how it presents an individual experience as universal.  We found reading Hereafter to be a really immersive experience and absolutely fascinating in both subject matter, and how it relates to the fallout and afterlife of colonialism, and its stylistic approach. 

New York University Press

How to Live at the End of the World

How to Live at the End of the World is a hopeful exploration of how to rethink “Anthropocene,” the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment, and revise our way of life and thought. In this book, Holloway, a poet and philosopher, takes up difficult, unanswered questions in recent work including those by Donna Haraway, Kathryn Yusoff, and Isabelle Stengers, and investigates a radical form of democracy for all of the living. The book has three parts focusing on time, art and politics which address the current era, which Holloway explains, is marked not just by melting glaciers or epic droughts, but by the near universal disappearance of shared social enterprise. The irony of the Anthropocene era is that we are now being forced to consider ourselves as a collective again. We cannot recommend this timely and hopeful book enough.

Stanford University Press

In the Name of Wild

The Vannini family took a 5-year trip to try and fully understand what it means to be “wild” and whether this is the same across different cultures in the world. What follows is an uplifting study of kinship and connection, with not just the people, but the land itself too. This is a fascinating, often thought-provoking part travelogue, part ethnography exploring the meaning of “wilderness.” It’s also worth keeping an eye out for the beautifully filmed supplementary documentary coming out too!

UBC Press

No Machos or Pop Stars

No Machos or Popstars is an engaging and fascinating insight into an under-documented music and arts scene, the post-punk scene in Leeds during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Art school students broke down boundaries in the art and music establishments to bring their art to stages and dancefloors across the country, and in some cases, the world. The book is based on original interviews with members of bands including Scritti Politti, Soft Cell, Gang of Four, Delta 5, Fad Gadget, the Mekons, Three Johns and others. The book is a valuable and insightful piece of social history, documenting the tail-end of an era when students had access to a state-funded education. At a time when the arts have become less accessible for most people, this book is a timely reflection on a period of creativity and innovation, what it took to allow this to happen and what’s at stake now. 

Duke University Press

On the Inconvenience of Other People

Lauren Berlant’s On the Inconvenience of Other People argues that, being social animals, what we’re really looking for, is inconvenience. A really insightful book on how we can use our modern-day attachments (but more importantly, the mechanism in which the attachments are made) to make the world a better place in the future. Both challenging and satisfying, this is Berlant offering us not only a new way to see the world, but advice for living live with others in it.

Duke University Press

Reader’s Block

What does “reading” mean? From literature, film, life writing, social media, medical case studies, and more, Matthew Rubery contends that there is no single activity known as reading. When coming to terms with a more neurodiverse world, we are seeing more and more that the way things currently are, don’t always work for everyone. Meeting neurodiverse readers where they are, this book extends a hand (and book) to everyone who doesn’t always read in the way they “should”. A truly welcome addition to a great genre; books about books.

Stanford University Press

The Architecture of Disability

A complete reshaping of how we view the development and creation of architecture. David Gissen uses his own experiences to demonstrate how we can change the way that disability is conceptualised in architecture and, better still, provides ways in which we can mould our spaces around physical capacity, as a starting point rather than as an afterthought. 

University of Minnesota Press

The Color Pynk

The first full-length study of Black queer, cis-, and trans-femininity, this is a well-written, crucial study of how creative work offers a challenge to power. Including the music of Janelle Monáe and Kelsey Lu, Janet Mock’s writing for the television show Pose, the fashion of Indya Moore and (F)empower, and the films of Tourmaline and Juliana Huxtable, as well as poetry and novels, Omise’eke Nathasha Tinsley shows how Black femmes, sidelined by liberal feminists and invisible to mainstream civil rights movements, spent the Trump years doing what they so often do best: creating politically engaged art, entertainment, and ideas. This is a passionate and important read.

University of Texas Press

The Ink in the Grooves

A fascinating collection of essays and interviews with writers and musicians which explore the relationships between Music and Literature. Contributors include Michael Chabon, Bob Dylan, Laura Cantrell, Roddy Doyle, Steve Earle, William Ferris, Rhiannon Giddens, Dave Grohl, Jonathan Lethem, Greil Marcus, Rick Moody, Lorrie Moore, The John Prine Band, Richard Thompson, Colson Whitehead and many more.

Cornell University Press

What Is Extinction?

At a time when interest in multi-species co-existence has never been so crucial and, thankfully, interest in the topic is growing, What is Extinction? offers timely interpretations of how definitions and visions of extinction have changed in the past and continue to change in the present. Examples covered in this important critical theory (of species in critical danger) range from the study of the rise of extreme biopolitics in the Third Reich that attempted to change the meaning of extinction, to the current pursuit of de-extinction technologies.

Fordham University Press

Order any of the CAP Essential Reads with 20% discount, using the code: ESSENTIAL22