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Books Reviewed in 2020

2020 was a terrible year for the world. 2020 was a great year for books.

Here are the books that I reviewed for IHE, along with a couple that I co-authored.

Would love to hear (in a letter to the editor, or an e-mail, or a tweet, or a TikTok, or whatever) if we read any of the same books in 2020. See you all in 2021.

Learning Innovation and the Future of Higher Education by Joshua Kim and Edward Maloney





The Low-Density University: 15 Scenarios for Higher Education by Edward Maloney and Joshua Kim





Foreword to ‘Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers’: An introduction to a must-read new book.

The authors of Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers, Kathryn E. Linder, Kevin Kelly and Thomas J. Tobin, asked me to write the foreword to their book.



Universities, the Climate Emergency, and ‘The Ministry for the Future’: Lots of time and a fast read for book clubbing.

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson



Are ‘One Billion Americans’ a Good Idea?: An argument for babies and immigrants.

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger by Matthew Yglesias



‘The New Map’ and the New Liberal Arts: Energy and society.

The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations by Daniel Yergin



Learning Science, Institutional Change, and ‘The Idea of the Brain’: Neuroscience and the university of the future.

The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience by Matthew Cobb



Going ‘Upstream’: The latest book by one of the Heath brothers.

Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen by Dan Heath



Reading ’2030’ as an Opportunity to Talk About Higher Ed’s Next Decade: Thinking laterally about the future of academia.

2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything by Mauro F. Guillen



3 Reasons to Read ‘The Deficit Myth’: Thanks to Matt Reed for the recommendation.

The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy by Stephanie Kelton



‘Ghost Road’ and the Surprising Future of Autonomous Transportation: Beyond the driverless car.

Ghost Road: Beyond the Driverless Car by Anthony M. Townsend



‘Underwater’ and the New Small College Town Housing Bubble: The dream and nightmare of homeownership.

Underwater: How Our American Dream of Homeownership Became a Nightmare by Ryan Dezember



Campus Offices and ‘The Great Indoors’: Data-driven design and academic space planning.

The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape Our Behavior, Health, and Happiness by Emily Anthes



‘Monopolized,’ COVID-19 and Worrying Over a Concentrated Higher Ed: Will our sector come to resemble tech, media and other industries?

Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power by David Dayen



‘Lights Out,’ GE and the Fall of Elite Higher Ed: Why if it could happen to General Electric, it can happen to us.

Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric by Thomas Gryta and Ted Mann



Poker, Metacognition and ‘The Biggest Bluff’: Less certainty. More inquiry.

The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win by Maria Konnikova



Will Higher Education Follow the ‘More from Less’ Story?: Unfairly reading Andrew McAfee’s excellent book with COVID-19 eyes.

More from Less: The Surprising Story of How We Learned to Prosper Using Fewer Resources―and What Happens Next by Andrew McAfee



Higher Education and ‘How Innovation Works’: A theory of change.

How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom by Matt Ridley



Responding to 6 Quotes From ‘The Merit Myth’: Essential reading.

The Merit Myth: How Our Colleges Favor the Rich and Divide America by Anthony P. Carnevale, Peter Schmidt and Jeff Strohl



Why Rosabeth Moss Kanter Wants Us to ‘Think Outside the Building’: Some of the curriculum, and part of the story, of Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative.

Think Outside the Building: How Advanced Leaders Can Change the World One Smart Innovation at a Time by Rosabeth Moss Kanter



The Uses of ‘More: A History of the World Economy From the Iron Age to the Information Age’: Economic history as a guide to our future economy.

More: A History of the World Economy From the Iron Age to the Information Age by Philip Coggan



Extreme Economies’ and Higher Ed in 2050: What can we learn from outliers about the future?

Extreme Economies: What Life at the World’s Margins Can Teach Us About Our Own Future by Richard Davies



Houston as a ‘Prophetic City’: A biography of our nation’s fourth-largest city.

Prophetic City: Houston on the Cusp of a Changing America by Stephen L. Klineberg



Keynes, ‘The Price of Peace’ and the Intellectual Origins of Our Left/Right Divide: … the gradual encroachment of ideas.

The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes by Zachary D. Carter



Trying to Read ‘Arguing With Zombies’ as a Republican: Dear conservatives …

Arguing With Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future by Paul Krugman



Pirates, Professors, and ‘Enemy of All Mankind’: The latest must-read book by Steven Johnson.

Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History’s First Global Manhunt by Steven Johnson



Remembering Eating Out While Reading ‘The Restaurant’: And a list of books on restaurants, food and the food industry.

The Restaurant: A 2,000-Year History of Dining Out by William Sitwell



Two Convincing and One Debatable Argument in ‘A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations’: Plus a list of other books on electricity and energy that I’ve reviewed.

A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations by Robert Bryce



5 Higher Ed COVID-19 Leadership Lessons From ‘The Splendid and the Vile’: If Churchill were a university president or provost during a pandemic.

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson



Peering at ‘The Velvet Rope Economy’: The lifestyles of the 1 percent.

The Velvet Rope Economy: How Inequality Became Big Business by Nelson D. Schwartz



‘MBS,’ Saudi Arabia and Academic Freedom: Who gets to think and write freely in higher ed?

MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman by Ben Hubbard



‘The Decadent Society’ During Pandemic: Have worries about cultural, political and economic stagnation lost their relevance in the age of COVID-19?

The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success by Ross Douthat



Taking a Break from the Pandemic to Discuss ‘The New Class War’: The origins of our economic, political, and cultural polarization.

The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite by Michael Lind



COVID-19 and ‘The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch’: How are you escaping?

The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch: How the Canceled Sitcom Became the Beloved Pop Culture Icon We Are Still Talking About Today by Kimberly Potts


Golden Gates’ and Faculty/Staff Housing Costs: Why housing became so expensive, and what this trend means for higher ed.

Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America by Conor Dougherty



Amazon, Libraries, and Pollan’s Only From Audible ‘Caffeine’: The price of our addictions.

How Caffeine Created the Modern World, Written and narrated by Michael Pollan


Reading ‘Secondhand’ and Thinking About All Those Books That Academics Own: What will happen to your personal library, as well as everything else that your kids won’t want?

Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter



Rushkoff, Online Learning and ‘Team Human’: Further evidence of the need for online education people to participate in the broader world of ideas.

Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff



An Affectionately Critical Review of ‘The Future Is Faster Than You Think’: Pushing back on the power of convergence.

The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Disrupting Business, Industries, and Our Lives by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler



A Great Novel, an Invitation to Dinner With the Author and Thoughts on Caste in Academia: Discussing In the Light of What We Know.

In the Light of What We Know: A Novel by Zia Haider Rahman



‘Academia Next’: Reviewing the future of higher education.

Academia Next: The Futures of Higher Education by Bryan Alexander



Higher Ed Exports and ‘Trade Is Not a Four-Letter Word’: The impact of international students on U.S. colleges and universities.

Trade Is Not a Four-Letter Word: How Six Everyday Products Make the Case for Trade by Fred P. Hochberg



Reading Gibson’s ‘Agency’ for Higher Ed Pattern Recognition: Speculative fiction and the possible futures of postsecondary education.

Agency by William Gibson



Ed Tech, Gender and “Uncanny Valley”: Some questions for women in academic/educational technology, inspired by a terrific memoir of Silicon Valley tech culture.

Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener



Higher Ed Employment in a “World Without Work”: Will robots take all the (campus) jobs?

A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind



‘Food Routes’ and the Logistics Behind How We Eat: A great book to build a course around.

Food Routes: Growing Bananas in Iceland and Other Tales From the Logistics of Eating by Robyn Metcalfe



Are Academics ‘Wrong About Nearly Everything’?: Will you score better than the average American on this book-inspired quiz?

Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything: A Theory of Human Misunderstanding by Bobby Duffy



Recommending ‘Trick Mirror’: A book to talk about with my college-going daughters.

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino



‘The Golden Thread’ and an Imaginary Department of Microhistory: A book, and a discipline, for the curious.

The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History by Kassia St. Clair

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