I Know Smart Humans. Here’s some of their recommended reads for curious young people*.

*This list is obviously relevant for anyone curious about the world, but was compiled as a final parting list to a very curious and engaged group of 14 year olds that I taught in the summer of 2015. The section headings correspond to how the course was designed thematically as well.

Human Geography

Suggested Books

Economy zombie
Development as Freedom – Amartya Sen
The World Without Us – Alan Weisman
Disassembly Required – Geoff Mann
Freakonomics – Stephen Levitt and Stephen Dubner
Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us -John Quiggen
The Ascent of Money – Niall Ferguson
A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World: William Bernstein
The Shock Doctrine + No Logo – Naomi Klein
Nickel and Dimed – Barbara Ehrenreich
A Brief History of Neoliberalism – David Harvey

Agriculture/Environment omnivore
The Omnivore’s Dilemma + The Botany of Desire – Michael Pollan
The Conundrum – David Own
Ecological Imperialism – Alfred Crosby
Salt: A World History – Mark Kurlansky
Fresh: A Perishable History – Susanne Freidberg Oak: The Frame of Civilization – William Bryant Logan

Open Veins of Latin America – Eduardo Galeano
Life and Death of Great American Cities – Jane Jacobslatin america
Planet of Slums – Mike Davis
Something New Under the Sun – John McNeil
Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West – William Cronon
The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic, and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World – Stephen Johnson
Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago – Eric Klinenberg
Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City – Russell Shorto

Lies My Teacher Told Me – James Loewen
1491 and 1493 – Charless Mann
A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England – Carol Karlsen
A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn (with the caveat that it is not well cited and should be read with other perspectives)


Culture and Society
Outliers: The Story of feminism_is_for_everybody_bell_hooksSuccess– Malcolm Gladwell
The Culture of Make Believe – Derrick Jensen
Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology – David Graeber
The Wisdom of Crowds – James Surowiecki
The Spell of the Sensuous  David Abrams
Feminism is for Everybody – bell hooks
The Righteous Mind – Jonathan Haidt
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander


The Phantom Tollbooth
– Norton Juster
The Dispossessed – Ursula K. LeGuin
Lucy – Jamaica Kincaid
American Born Chinese – Gene Luen YangThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie 

Have more suggestions for systems thinking + critical thinking books? Leave them in a comment below!

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