Which nonfiction book should our book club read next?

What should our online book club read next?

Yes, it’s voting time!

Melbourne_Wall of BooksOur topic for this reading: nonfiction that informs us about the futures of education and technology.  There are sixteen (16) titles on deck.

(If you’re new to the book club, know that since 2014 we’ve been reading titles that cover different ways of approaching education, technology, and the future.  Books have included media historynear-future science fiction, education economics, anti-authoritarian schooling, for-profit colleges and universitieschanges in higher educationsociology of classthe emerging world of automation, and the 21st century’s most important work of economics so far.

Some authors have kindly interacted with us as we read their works.  Several have engaged with us via Twitter, like Tressie Cottom and Malka Older. As our book club progressed, some of the authors have been guests on the Future Trends Forum, like science fiction writer and cyberactivist Cory Doctorow.)

Today’s poll is based on the last few such; the first one appeared back in fall 2017. I have cut several titles from previous lists that fail to win any votes. You can see that there’s a mix of subjects, from pedagogy to technology, economics to online life, scholarly publishing and public policy.  Most are pretty recent.  Some will seem especially relevant to some of you based on current events.

Here’s the poll, if you’d like to jump right in.  You get up to three (3) votes.  If you want more information about the titles, just scroll down to the full list just below:

If you’d like to nominate a nonfiction book that isn’t on this list, and you want everyone to see your nominee, please use the comment box below.  If you’re like to vote for someone else’s comment-nominated book, either say so in a reply, or email me if you’d like.

Below is the full list as a kind of annotated bibliography. I’ve linked to pages for each one, including those from publishers, Amazon, and the authors themselves, plus some relevant further readings (interviews, articles, etc.) and acknowledgements to the good folks who nominated several titles.  Note that Amazon links go through our book store, so every book you purchase that way helps keep my work going (and thank you very much!).

  • Sarah Rose Cavanaugh, The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion (2016) (Amazon).  A practical account on how to apply neuroscience and psychology to improve student engagement and learning.
  • Caroline Criado-PerezInvisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men (2019) (Goodreads; Amazon).  Examines the dangers caused by design that ignores women, then advocates for new, inclusive design.
  • Four_futuresPeter Frase, Four Futures: Life After Capitalism (publisherAmazon) (2016).  A bold quartet of futures, each a world powerfully reshaped by technology in different ways.  Based on this 2011 article.
  • Scott Hartley, The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World (official page; Amazon) (2017).  From the book’s description: “as we prioritize… STEM subjects, we must also consider the overlooked but valuable role that the Liberal Arts play in our technological world. Fuzzies help us apply our new tools with context, consideration, and relevance to the greatest human problems.”
  • Joe Henrich, The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter (publisher, Amazon) (2017).  A wide-ranging view of humanity, which finds at our very center nothing less than… teaching. (thanks to Howard Rheingold)
  • Kai-Fu Lee_AI Super-powersRajiv Jhangiani, Robert Biswas-Diener, Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science (2017) (Amazon) (publisher).  Explores open educational resources, open notebook science, and open access scholarship.  Note that this book is available as a free download.
  • Kai-Fu Lee, AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order (2018) (official site) (Goodreads) (Amazon).  An overview of AI in geopolitical competition, in business, and in academia. Reviews: Washington Post, Forbes.
  • Angela Nagle, Kill All Normies (publisherAmazon) (2017).  A history and analysis of the lunatic fringe of online culture, from 4Chan on.
  • Chris Newfield, The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them. (publisherAmazon). (2016)  Focuses on the defunding of American public higher education.  Professor Newfield was also a guest on the Future Trends Forum.

  • Hans Rosling, Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think (Amazon; Goodreads; Wikipedia) (2018).  A look at positive trends in the world from a very popular speaker.
  • StaleyBruce Schneier, Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World (publisher; Amazon) (2018). An overview of today’s cybersecurity challenges written by one of the world’s leading security experts.
  • David J. Staley, Alternative Universities: Speculative Design for Innovation in Higher Education (2019) (Amazon) (publisher).  (Inside Higher Ed interview with author)
  • Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind, The Future of the Professions  How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts (2016) (publisher) (Amazon).  (thanks to Joe Murphy for the suggestion)
  • Jean Twenge, iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us (2017) (Amazon)  (thanks to Harry Baya)
  • Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power(2018) (publisher) (Amazon).  A critical examination of the uses of AI and big data. (One review)

You can vote in this poll, and also add thoughts in comments below.  Remember, you can support up to three titles.

I’m looking forward to your choices!

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6 Responses to Which nonfiction book should our book club read next?

  1. All your choices are closed-source paywall. 🙁

  2. Dahn Shaulis says:

    I would actually say that people should read the Wikipedia page for Higher Education in the US. Then read “Friends In High Places: Who Endorses America’s Troubled For-Profit Colleges?” by David Halperin. Here’s my list:


    • Bryan Alexander says:

      Dahn, that’s an awesome bibliography.
      I have to note that some of the titles are already on our past readings list, and the bookstore, plus three Future Trends Forum guests!

  3. Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science is available for free download from

    No reviews of Open on Amazon as of March 21, 2019, perhaps due to fans reading the OER version. I just finished writing an OER course and am glad that Stephen and Dahn added their comments and directed my attention to it. *grins*

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