It's the bank holiday weekend! Kick back, relax and solve the world's problems with one of these great, thought-provoking books, handpicked by the ICA Bookshop.
Planning to take it easy this weekend? You can still get your dose of dance music by picking up Simon Reynolds’ definitive chronicle of rave culture. A personal memoir and cultural history all rolled into one, it offers recommendations and insider insights into the blissfully messy music scene of the 80s and 90s. First published in 1991, this specially updated version of the book includes a close look at the rise of dubstep, as well as exploring the popularity of EDM in the USA.
How did we get into this mess? Following the news has, at (most) times, been a pretty depressing experience this summer. Despite this, instead of retreating somewhere far far away and hiding from it all (which, let’s face it, can seem quite tempting) we'd suggest you come and pick up a copy of George Monbiot’s book. In lucid and passionate prose, Monbiot not only provides a sharp diagnosis of the current state of affairs, but also, most importantly, offers solutions for change - in our everyday lives as well as in the political sphere.
Roland Barthes wrote that the Argonauts replaced each part of their ship during their journey, “so that they ended with an entirely new ship, without having to alter either its name or its form.” Drawing on Barthes’ constantly shifting ship as a metaphor, Maggie Nelson’s book describes and embodies various transformations, exploring the ambiguous ‘slipperiness’ of the body, identity and language. Part-memoir, part-cultural theory, it tells the story of Nelson’s relationship with transgender artist Harry Dodge, as Harry undergoes testosterone treatments and Nelson becomes pregnant. Itself defying easy categorisation, the book offers a moving departure from conventional narratives about love, motherhood, gender identity and sexism.
A post-apocalyptic future. Unable to live on the earth’s surface, humans are isolated in a technology-obsessed world of instant messaging, and dependent on a mysterious, god-like being: the Machine. Physical touch and ‘first-hand’ ideas are all but extinct. Though first published in 1909, the dystopia imagined in E. M. Forster’s brilliant sci-fi short story is still unsettlingly relevant. Brilliantly written and accompanied by another short work The Celestial Ombibus, The Machine Stops deserves renewed attention for its chilling vision of the potential dangers of technology.
A comedy of the absurd, a history of philosophy and a faux-autobiographical meditation on memory, philosopher Simon Critchley’s Memory Theatre offers just the combination of funny and thought-provoking that you’d want for your bank holiday reading. Playing with the memoir genre, Critchley’s fictional debut features a philosopher named Critchley as its main character, charting the story of what happens when he stumbles upon a horoscope which tells him not only the details of his life to come, but also, unhappily, of his impending death. "I couldn't think of anything apart from death and the vague prospect of breakfast cereal," opines the narrator – a commentary fitting for our long end-of-summer-2016 weekend? ■