research * the future * culture

Summer reading list

This afternoon after picking up my students’ exams (and spending far too much time wandering gourmet food shops in search of the perfect bar of Earl Grey-infused dark chocolate, and then even more time trying on dresses in shops whose soundscapes were punctuated alternately by concrete drilling, poetry slams, and un-medicated raving), I decided to send them a summer reading list. Ironically, I rarely paid attention to such lists as a student. When I wasn’t reading for a project for the next year, I relied on a former teacher for recommendations. He was my teacher in junior high, but steered my reading habits through college, inadvertently assuring that when I started reading SF I did so with a lot of Murakami, Japrisot, Zola, Irving, and others under my belt. Plenty of adults feel (or once felt) the need to “grow out of” their SF readership so they can “move on” to mainstream lit. I have the reverse issue; I grew up reading books about alcoholism and adultery and suicide, and now I really relish my Hugo voter packet.

That little piece of my readerly history rather explains the following list, which is full of things I thought my students might enjoy, and also a few things I thought they might need later on:



*Natalie Angier, “The Canon: A Whirligig Tour Through the Beautiful Basics of Science”

*Michael Zielenziger, “Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created its Own Lost Generation”

*Henry Jenkins, “Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide”

*Haruki Murakami, “Underground”

*Jonathan Lethem, “The Disappointment Artist”

*Susan J. Napier, “Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle: Experiencing the World of Contemporary Japanese Animation”

*Umberto Eco, “Travels in Hyper-reality”

*Alex Steffen, “Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century”




*Cory Doctorow, “Little Brother”

*William Gibson, “Pattern Recognition”

*Haruki Murakami, “Kafka on the Shore”

*Jonathan Franzen, “The Corrections”

*Ursula K. LeGuin, “The Left Hand of Darkness”

*Arundhati Roy, “The God of Small Things”

*Octavia E. Butler, “Parable of the Sower”

*Umberto Eco, “The Name of the Rose”

*Natsuo Kirino, “Out”




*Tim Sale & Jeph Loeb, “Batman: The Long Halloween”

*Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons, “Watchmen”

*Miriam Libicki, “Jobnik!”


*Ai Yazawa, “NANA”

*Marginal & Syuji Takeya, “Astral Project”

*Norihiro Yagi, “Claymore”

*Yuki Urushibara, “Mushi-shi”

*Taiyo Matsumoto, “Black and White”

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  1. Haha. Japanese tag. Shouldn’t the ? in the tag be ? instead? And why the spaces?

    • It’s true, I screwed up the hiragana. The spaces I just put in so that I’ll have an easier time writing.

  • Madeline Ashby… a science fiction writer, futurist, speaker, and immigrant living in Toronto. She writes a column for the Ottawa Citizen. She is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates, and Jason Richman at UTA. You can buy her books here.

    She has worked with Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Nesta, Data & Society, The Atlantic Council, the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, and others. Her short fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her other essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity,, MISC Magazine, FutureNow, and elsewhere.

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