Stuff I’ve been reading recently – #2

The Global Minotaur: America, the True Origins of the Financial Crisis and the Future of the World Economy (Economic Controversies)
by Yanis Varoufakis

In this remarkable and provocative book, Yanis Varoufakis explodes the myth that financialisation, ineffectual regulation of banks, greed and globalisation were the root causes of the global economic crisis. Rather, they are symptoms of a much deeper malaise which can be traced all the way back to the Great Crash of 1929, then on through to the 1970s: the time when a ‘Global Minotaur’ was born. Just as the Athenians maintained a steady flow of tributes to the Cretan beast, so the ‘rest of the world’ began sending incredible amounts of capital to America and Wall Street. Thus, the Global Minotaur became the ‘engine’ that pulled the world economy from the early 1980s to 2008.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
| by Haruki Murakami

An instant #1 New York Times Bestseller, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the remarkable story of a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. Here Haruki Murakami—one of the most revered voices in literature today—gives us a story of love, friend­ship, and heartbreak for the ages.

Sweat Equity: Inside the New Economy of Mind and Body (Bloomberg)
| by Jason Kelly

Sweat Equity goes inside the multi-billion dollar trend toward endurance sports and fitness to discover who’s driving it, who’s paying for it, and who’s profiting. Bloomberg’s Jason Kelly, author of The New Tycoons, profiles the participants, entrepreneurs, and investors at the center of this movement, exploring this phenomenon in which a surge of people—led by the most affluent—are becoming increasingly obsessed with looking and feeling better. Through in-depth looks inside companies and events from New York Road Runners to Tough Mudder and Ironman, Kelly profiles the companies and people aiming to meet the demands of these consumers, and the traits and strategies that made them so successful.

In a modern world filled with anxiety, pressure, and competition, people are spending more time and money than ever before to soothe their minds and tone their bodies, sometimes pushing themselves to the most extreme limits. Even as obesity rates hit an all-time high, the most financially successful among us are collectively spending billions each year on apparel, gear, and entry fees. Sweat Equity charts the rise of the movement, through the eyes of competitors and the companies that serve them. Through conversations with business-people, many driven by their own fitness obsessions, and first-hand accounts of the sports themselves, Kelly delves into how the movement is taking shape.

  • Understand the social science, physics, and economics of our desire to pursue activities like endurance sports and yoga
  • Get to know the endurance business’s target demographics
  • Learn how distance running—once a fringe hobby—became a multi-billion dollar enterprise fueled by private equity
  • Understand how different generations pursue fitness and how fast-growing companies sell to them

The opportunity to run, swim, and crawl in the mud is resonating with more and more of us, as sports once considered extreme become mainstream. As Baby Boomers seek to stay fit and Millennials search for meaning in a hyper-connected world, the demand for the race bib is outstripping supply, even as the cost to participate escalates. Sweat Equity, through the stories of men and women inside the most influential races and companies, goes to the heart of the movement where mind, body, and big money collide.

The Outsourced Self: What Happens When We Pay Others to Live Our Lives for Us
| by Arlie Russell Hochschild

The family has long been a haven in a heartless world, the one place immune to market forces and economic calculations, where the personal, the private, and the emotional hold sway. Yet as Arlie Russell Hochschild shows in The Outsourced Self, that is no longer the case: everything that was once part of private life—love, friendship, child rearing—is being transformed into packaged expertise to be sold back to confused, harried Americans.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews and original research, Hochschild follows the incursions of the market into every stage of intimate life. From dating services that train you to be the CEO of your love life to wedding planners who create a couple’s “personal narrative”; from nameologists (who help you name your child) to wantologists (who help you name your goals); from commercial surrogate farms in India to hired mourners who will scatter your loved one’s ashes in the ocean of your choice—Hochschild reveals a world in which the most intuitive and emotional of human acts have become work for hire.

Sharp and clear-eyed, Hochschild is full of sympathy for over-stressed, outsourcing Americans, even as she warns of the market’s threat to the personal realm they are striving so hard to preserve.

Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
| by Nick Srnicek

Neoliberalism isn’t working. Austerity is forcing millions into poverty and many more into precarious work, while the left remains trapped in stagnant political practices that offer no respite.

Inventing the Future is a bold new manifesto for life after capitalism. Against the confused understanding of our high-tech world by both the right and the left, this book claims that the emancipatory and future-oriented possibilities of our society can be reclaimed. Instead of running from a complex future, Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams demand a post-capitalist economy capable of advancing standards, liberating humanity from work and developing technologies that expand our freedoms.

This new edition includes a new chapter where they respond to their various critics.

Work’s Intimacy
| by Melissa Gregg

This book provides a long-overdue account of online technology and its impact on the work and lifestyles of professional employees. It moves between the offices and homes of workers in the knew “knowledge” economy to provide intimate insight into the personal, family, and wider social tensions emerging in today’s rapidly changing work environment.

Drawing on her extensive research, Gregg shows that new media technologies encourage and exacerbate an older tendency among salaried professionals to put work at the heart of daily concerns, often at the expense of other sources of intimacy and fulfillment. New media technologies from mobile phones to laptops and tablet computers, have been marketed as devices that give us the freedom to work where we want, when we want, but little attention has been paid to the consequences of this shift, which has seen work move out of the office and into cafés, trains, living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms. This professional “presence bleed” leads to work concerns impinging on the personal lives of employees in new and unforeseen ways.

This groundbreaking book explores how aspiring and established professionals each try to cope with the unprecedented intimacy of technologically-mediated work, and how its seductions seem poised to triumph over the few remaining relationships that may stand in its way.

 

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