As the days extend longer and warmer, it’s the perfect time to attack a terrifyingly long reading list. I have big plans to make a dent in the pile of physical and virtual books on my nightstand (virtual pile because my e-reader sits on top of the physical books that mock me next to my pillow).
Here is what I am currently reading (yes, I’m reading two books right now):
Frank Pasquale’s The Black Box Society is a must-read. I tore through the first 150 pages in a day. Pasquale shows how the “black box” around how companies and institutions use our data leaves us powerless to know, scrutinize, interrogate, and cease those uses. This should be required reading for educators and students. I’m already planning blog posts based on what I’ve read– stay tuned!
“If we are not going to be able to stop the flow of data, therefore, we need to become more knowledgeable about the entities behind it and learn to control their use of it. We need to hold business and government to the same standard of openness that they impose upon us–and complement their scrutiny with new forms of accountability.” (Pasquale, p. 57)
I love the blues. I have recently become interested in early female blues musicians. Who were they, behind their music? Who rose to prominence, who didn’t, and why? When I came across Angela Davis’ book, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, I was immediately hooked. For her study, Davis explored the work of three female blues musicians, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday (as part of her study, Davis transcribed all of Ma Rainey’s and Bessie Smith’s recordings and included them in the book!).
“What gives the blues such fascinating possibilities of sustaining emergent feminist consciousness is the way they often construct seemingly antagonistic relationships as noncontradictory oppositions. A female narrator in a women’s blues song who represents herself as entirely subservient to male desire might simultaneously express autonomous desire and a refusal to allow her mistreating lover to drive her to psychic despair.” (Davis, p. 7)
Up next on my summer reading list:
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs
Ghostly matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination, by Avery F. Gordon
The Witches, by Stacey Schiff
The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, by Cathy O’Neil