What should the online book club read next?

As 2017 dawns, our thoughts naturally turn to… our book club, and reading together!

During the end of 2016 we read We Make the Road by Walking, a major and inspiring work on education.  Readers commented in response to blog posts here, tweeted up a storm, created images, web apps, and bots.  Earlier in the year we read three near-future science fiction novels. which gave us glimpses of education’s possibilities in the context of transformed societies.  In previous years we’ve read other books on education, media, and society.

So what next?

Sara Goldrick-Rab, Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American DreamWe could read another book about education.  Several recent titles have come up in conversations of late, all with living authors we might connect with via social media or video.  I could invite them to be guests on the Future Trends Forum, too:

Or we could add technology to our educational exploration:

Vernor Vinge, Rainbows EndWe could also change register and read another work of science fiction.  The crowdsourced list of titles is very rich.  From them, here are some of the more popular ones based on comments and polling:

  • Monica Byrne, The Girl in the Road
  • Cory Doctorow, For the Win
  • Will McIntosh, Soft Apocalypse
  • Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven
  • Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning
  • Mark Russinovich, Zero Day
  • Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story
  • Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age
  • Daniel Suarez, Daemon
  • Vernor Vinge, Rainbows End
  • Andy Weir, The Martian

For my part, I’ll commit to setting up a reading schedule, blogging notes and questions, and spurring a Twitter discussion.

What would you like to do, oh brilliant readers?

Liked it? Take a second to support Bryan Alexander on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!
This entry was posted in readings. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to What should the online book club read next?

  1. I think it would be great for all to read Lawrence LeShans’s “An Ethic for an Age of Space”. I have always found strikingly simple and brilliant observations in LeShans work, so simple and effective that many people don’t even notice it!

  2. The Newfield is probably directly relevant to me at this point.

  3. One education suggestion: Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society which has a copy online here: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

    One science fiction: Ben H. Winters, The Last Policeman (part of trilogy, but works as a standalone). This has proven to be the best apocalypse book I have ever read because it is so good at imagining very completely the routine and everyday consequences in every day life.

    One alt selection: Clark Aldrich’s Unschooling Rules. Aldrich has another career as a consultant to companies using what he calls small sims, but I have given this book to unschoolers and have recommended it along with Holt and Gatto. Primo stuff.

    • Greetings, Terry, and thank you for the suggestions.

      Good to see Illich’s classic text online.

      Agreed about Ben Winters. The first and third books in particular. I’m driving across NH today, actually, coincidentally.

  4. Hail to Thee, O Brilliant Readers!
    Nobody else as to join me in my boredom with teacher talk because you are all probably still in active service, and I am retired and have earned my ennui with the topic! I have become irrelevant, so ignore me on that topic…:)

    My pick for a science fiction book comes at the recommendation of sf writer Molly Gloss, who was on the Tiptree Award jury when the top spot went unanimously to Light, by M John Harrison. Here’s the blurb from amazon.com:

    “In M. John Harrison’s dangerously illuminating new novel, three quantum outlaws face a universe of their own creation, a universe where you make up the rules as you go along and break them just as fast, where there’s only one thing more mysterious than darkness.

    In contemporary London, Michael Kearney is a serial killer on the run from the entity that drives him to kill. He is seeking escape in a future that doesn’ t yet exist—a quantum world that he and his physicist partner hope to access through a breach of time and space itself.

    In this future, Seria Mau Genlicher has already sacrificed her body to merge into the systems of her starship, the White Cat. But the “inhuman” K-ship captain has gone rogue, pirating the galaxy while playing cat and mouse with the authorities who made her what she is. In this future, Ed Chianese, a drifter and adventurer, has ridden dynaflow ships, run old alien mazes, surfed stellar envelopes. He “went deep”—and lived to tell about it. Once crazy for life, he’s now just a twink on New Venusport, addicted to the bizarre alternate realities found in the tanks—and in debt to all the wrong people.

    Haunting them all through this maze of menace and mystery is the shadowy presence of the Shrander—and three enigmatic clues left on the barren surface of an asteroid under an ocean of light known as the Kefahuchi Tract: a deserted spaceship, a pair of bone dice, and a human skeleton.”

    What caught my attention in the write-up above is the woman, “Seria Mau Genlicher has already sacrificed her body to merge into the systems of her starship, the White Cat.” Talk about ye olde homage to the master! Meaning Cordwainer Smith, of course.

    I hear it is a dark and beautifully written book–any other takers?

  5. leighahall says:

    I’m new to this space and just learning about the book club. I’m excited! I’ll go with whatever is selected, Just looking forward to participating.

  6. John Stewart says:

    My vote is for Sara Goldrick-Rab or Tressie McMillan Cottom’s books.

  7. emdalton says:

    I have three science fiction suggestions. None are recent novels, but each has relevance to the present.

    1: Orbital Resonance, John Barnes. To what extent can one generation steer the next, even with total control over the environment, including the educational system? Can one generation really raise another to escape the past? I’m still not sure how I feel about some of the ideas in this book, which is part of why I recommend it.

    2: The Player of Games, Iain Banks. What is “meaningful work” in a post-scarcity economy where nearly all necessary tasks are automated? Also contains some sharp observations about gender, language, and culture.

    3: Voyage from Yesteryear, James P. Hogan. Another post-scarcity novel, this one a bit more light-hearted with space opera elements. Also, like Orbital Resonance, explores the potential value of a break with previous culture, including some (slightly implausibly effective) Socratic Method teaching robots. Takes a more libertarian stance than The Player of Games.

    If you’re still thinking about non-fiction, may I suggest The Soft Revolution, by Postman & Weingartner? Sometimes it’s interesting to see how conversations can be cyclical.

    Or, a very interesting follow up to Horton & Friere could be Michael Schiro’s Curriculum Theory. I especially like this book because of the evenhanded portrayal it provides of different philosophies of learning, their adherents, and their purposes. One can finish this book just as firmly committed to ones philosophy as before, but with a far greater understanding and even appreciation of other philosophies in their own contexts. I think we generally need more works like this to help us communicate across differences, especially in understanding how different groups can use the same words to mean very different ideas.

  8. VanessaVaile says:

    so many excellent choices already on the list and more put forth — here’s another not-new but timelier than when published (I put it on my mental list then), recommended by Cory Doctorow: Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America,, https://boingboing.net/2007/01/08/roths-plot-against-a.html

  9. Pingback: Our next book club reading: Paying the Price, by Sara Goldrick-Rab | Bryan Alexander

  10. Pingback: Technology Use in Higher Education – Confessions of a Bored Academic

  11. Pingback: Technology Use in Higher Education – Teaching Academia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *