Subtitle: Imagination taking power

All the books I read in 2017

As regular readers will know, I have been working, since March, on the research for a new book about imagination. In the spirit of sharing my research as I go along, I have been posting here the interviews I’ve been doing which I really hope you’ve enjoyed.  More to come next year.  Before I put to bed for 2017, I thought I would share with you the list of books I’ve read over the year.  I’ve read lots of other stuff too, papers, articles and so on, but I was inspired by Shane Parish over at the Farnham Street blog who compiled a list of all the books he read in 2016 here.

I thought it was brilliant.  While people are happy to share their playlists on Spotify of their favourite tracks of the year, to share the books you’ve read is much less common.  So here’s mine, albeit just a list, not a description of each book.

In total it comes to 92 books.  Does that sound like a lot?  Probably, but it shouldn’t really. I was really inspired by a brilliant article by Charles Chu called In the time you spend on social media each year, you could read 200 books.  He points out that the average American reader would require 417 hours to read 200 books over 12 months, which might sound like a lot of time, until to realise that that average American spends 608 hours on social media and 1642 hours watching TV.  His tip for managing to read a lot?

“If you want to read, make sure (1) you remove all distractions from your environment and (2) you make books as easy to access as possible”.

So while I haven’t managed 200, and while I have been in the fortunate position to have had this be my work for most of 2017, I still hope you will find some interesting new avenues to explore here, some inspirational new titles, some rich sources of new ideas.  Thank you for your support during 2017 and I hope you have found this blog useful and informative.  And please share your lists of books you’ve read this year in the comments box below.

My 92 Books of 2017 (in no particular order)

Darren McGarvey. Poverty Safari: understanding the anger of Britain’s underclass. Luath Press, 2017.

Neil Postman. The disappearance of childhood: how TV is changing children’s lives. Comet, 1985.

William Walsh. The use of imagination: educational thought and the literary mind.  Chatto & Windus, 1958.

Ted Dewan. Crispin, the pig who had it all.  Doubleday, 2000.

Lionel Trilling. The Liberal Imagination.  New York Review Books, 1950.

Victor Klemperer. The Language of the Third Reich. Bloomsbury, 2000.

Grayson Perry. Playing to the Gallery.  Penguin, 2014.

Douglas Rushkoff. Present Shock: when everything happens NOW. Current, 2014.

Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyne Gregoire. Wired to Create: unravelling the mysteries of the creative mind. TarcherPerigee, 2016.

Kendall Haven. Story Proof: the science behind the startling power of story. Libraries Unlimited, 2007.

Sarah Corbett.  How to be a Craftivist: the art of gentle protest.  Unbound, 2017.

Yuval Noah Harari. Sapiens: a brief history of humankind. Vintage, 2011.

Gordon Turnbull. Trauma: from Lockerbie to 7/7: how trauma affects our minds and how we fight back.  Bantam Press, 2011.

Mohsin Hamid. Exit West. Hamish Hamilton, 2017.

Gabriele Oettingen. Rethinking Positive Thinking: inside the new science of motivation. Current, 2014.

Douglas Thomas & John Seely Brown. A New Culture of Learning: cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. 2011

Tyler Cowen. The Complacent Class: the self-defeating quest for the American Dream. St Martin’s Press, 2017.

Rutger Bregman. Utopia For Realists: and how we can get there. Bloomsbury, 2017.

Bruce K. Alexander. The Globalisation of Addiction: a study in poverty of the spirit. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Naomi Klein.  No is not enough: defeating the new shock politics.  Allen Lane, 2017.

Dave Simpson. The Fallen: life in and out of Britain’s most insane group. Canongate, 2010.

John Yorke. Into the Woods: how stories work and why we tell them.  Penguin, 2013.

Paul L. Harris. The Work of the Imagination. Blackwell, 2000.

Adam Alter. Irresistable: why we can’t stop checking, scrolling, clicking and watching. Bodley Head, 2017.

Nancy Mellon. Storytelling and the Art of the Imagination. Element Books, 1992.

Matthew B. Crawford. The World Beyond Your Head: on becoming an individual in an age of distraction. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2015.

Matthew B. Crawford. The Case for Working with your Hands – or, Why Office Work is Bad for Use and Fixing Things Feels Good. Penguin, 2009.

Alain de Botton. The Architecture of Happiness.  Penguin, 2006.

Amitav Ghosh. The Great Derangement: climate change and the unthinkable. University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Christina Perozzi & Hallie Beaune. The Naked Pint: an unadulterated guide to craft beer. Perigree, 2009.

David van  Reybrouck. Against Elections: The Case for Democracy. The Bodley Head, 2016.

Bessel van der Kolk. The Body Keeps The Score: mind, brain and body in the transformation of trauma. Penguin, 2014.

Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi. Futurability: the Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility. Verso, 2017.

Kyung Hee Kim. The Creativity Crisis: how we can recapture American innovation. Promethius Books, 2016.

Lucy Neal. Playing for Time: making at as if the world mattered. Oberon Books, 2015.

Raoul Martinez. Creating Freedom: power, control and fight for our future. Canongate, 2017.

Nicholas Carr. Utopia is Creepy and other provocations.  W.W. Norton and Co., 2016.

Nicholas Carr. The Shallows: what the internet is doing to our brains. W.W.Norton & Co., 2010.

George Land & Beth Jarman. Break Point and Beyond: mastering the future – today. Harper Business, 1992.

Srdja Popovich & Matthew Miller. Blueprint for Revolution: how to use rice pudding, lego men, and other non-violent technigues to galvanise communities, overthrow dictators or simply change the world.  Scribe, 2015.

Sven Birkerts. Changing the Subject: art and attention in the internet age. Greywolf Press, 2015.

Sven Birkerts. The Guthenberg Elegies. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994.

Ursula K. Le Guin. The Wave in the Mind: talks and essays on the writer, the reader and the imagination. Shambhala, 2004.

Stephen D. Brookfield. Developing Critical Thinkers: challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting.  Open University Press, 1987.

Dorothy G. Singer & Jerome L. Singer. Imagination and Play in the Electronic Age. Harvard University Press, 2005.

Steve Hindy. The Craft Beer Revolution: how a band of microbrewers is transforming the world’s favourite drink.  Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Tom Salinsky & Deborah Frances-White. The Improv Handbook: the ultimate guide to improvising in comedy, theatre and beyond.  Bloomsbury, 2008.

Alfred Margulies. The Empathic Imagination. W.W. Norton & Co., 1989.

Dave Eggers. The Circle. Hamish Hamilton, 2013.

Ken Robinson. Out of Our Minds: learning to be creative. Capstone, 2001.

Kieran Egan & Dan Nadaner. Imagination and Education. Open University Press, 1988.

Ghislaine Kenyon. Quentin Blake: in the theatre of the imagination. Bloomsbury, 2016.

Augustin Fuentes. The Creative Spark: how imagination made humans exceptional.  Dutton, 2017.

Florence Williams. The Nature Fix: why nature makes us happier, healthier and more creative. W.H.Norton & Co., 2017.

Richard Sennett. The Craftsman. Penguin, 2008.

Diane Ackerman. Deep Play.  Vintage Books, 1999.

Mary Warnock. Imagination. Faber& Faber, 1976.

Arundhati Roy. The End of Imagination. Haymarket Books, 2016.

Roman Krznaric. Empathy: why it matters, and how to get it. Rider, 2014.

J.K.Rowling. Very Good Lives: the fringe benefits of failure and the importance of imagination. Sphere, 2008.

Max Haiven & Alex Khasnabish. The Radical Imagination: social movement research in the age of austerity.  Fernwood Publishing, 2014.

Ruth Mock. Education and the Imagination. Chatto & Windus, 1970.

Keith Johnstone. Impro: improvisation and the theatre. Methuen Drama, 1981.

Max Haiven. Crises of Imagination, Crises of Poweer: capitalism, creativity and the commons. Zed Books, 2014.

Maxine Green. Releasing the Imagination: essays on education, the Arts and social change. Jossey-Bass, 1995.

Justin Lewis. Beyond Consumer Capitalism: media and the limits to imagination. Polity, 2013.

Jonah Lehrer. Imagine: how creativity works.  Canongate, 2012.

Colin Ellard. Places of the Heart: the psychogeography of everyday life.  Bellevue Literary Press, 2015.

Ian Leslie. Curious: the desire to know and why your future depends on it.  Quercus, 2015.

Eric Liu & Scott Noppe-Brandon. Imagination First: unlocking the power of possibility. Jossey-Bass, 2009.

Zygmunt Bauman. Retrotopia. Polity Press. 2017.

Vickie Cooper & David Whyte. The Violence of Austerity. Pluto Press, 2017.

Eric Clark. The Real Toy Story: inside the ruthless battle for Britain’s youngest consumers. Transworld Publishers, 2017.

Kieran Egan. Imagination in Teaching and Learning: the middle school years. University of Chicago Press. 1992.

David Stuckler & Sanjay Basu. The Body Economic: eight experiments in economic recovery, from Iceland to Greece. Penguin Books, 2013.

Timothy Snyder. On Tyranny: twenty lessons from the twentieth century. The Bodley Head, 2017.

Tanner Christensen. The Creativity Challenge. Adams Media, 2015.

Peter Gray. Free to Learn: why unleashing the instinct to play will make our children happier, more self-reliant, and better students for life.  Basic Books, 2013.

Robert Macfarlane.  Landmarks. Penguin, 2015.

Hugh Cunningham. The Invention of Childhood. BBC Books, 2006.

Annette Simmons. The Story Factor: inspiration, influence, and persuasion through the art of storytelling. Basic Books, 2001.

Clare Nash. Contemporary Vernacular Design: how British housing can rediscover its soul. RIBA Publishing, 2017.

Sam Calagione. Brewing up a Business: adventures in beer from the founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Richard King. Original Rockers. Faber & Faber, 2015.

Philippe Van Parijs & Yannick Vanderborght. Basic Income: a radical proposal. Harvard University Press, 2017.

Cyril Dion. Tomorrow: all over the globe, solutions already exist. Actes Sud, 2017.

Daniel Letivin. The Organised Mind: thinking straight in the age of information overload. Penguin, 2014.

Advertising Shits in your Head: strategies for resistance.  Dog Section Press, 2017.

Sue Palmer. Toxic Childhood: how the modern world is damaging our children and what we can do about it. Orion Books, 2006.

Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica. Creative Schools.  Penguin, 2015.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Creativity: the psychology of discovery and invention. Harper Perennial, 2007.

Simon Head. Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans. Basic Books, 2014.



  1. Harry
    December 13, 2017

    Interesting list – how many of these are fiction though (given the interest in imagination)?

  2. Ha
    December 13, 2017

    Of these, which five would you recommend?

    • Rob Hopkins
      December 13, 2017

      ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ is remarkable. ‘The Shallows’ is essential. ‘Imagination First’ has some great bits. ‘Landmarks’ melted my heart. ‘Free to Learn’ is brilliant. ‘Changing the Subject’ is awesome. ‘Irresistable’ is a vital wake-up call.

  3. phil
    December 13, 2017

    great ’shelfies’ — thank you for sharing. wonderful to see ursula k. le guin and i love the sound of ‘Advertising Shits in your Head: strategies for resistance’. and many other titles to look up. i often feel a person’s bookshelf is the closest we’ll get to peeping into another’s soul, so thank you for showing us. regarding reading, so very true — minutes spent distracted are hours lost buried in books. books retain the cultural cache over other forms of reading. i try to do the bulk of mu online reading via the app pocket and using instapaper to send essays & articles to my ancient kindle in a bid to stave off distraction. however i find i’m consumed by so many interesting articles, essays and long pieces that choice becomes the very distraction. i’m also interested in how best to ‘read’ (and make notes) from books, especially non-fiction, as i find i’m a ‘dipper’ — that is diving in and out of a rota of books. and with reading i’m very anxious about retaining and recalling the info so i feel i’ve understood it but so i can articulate it to other. anyone got any tips & tactics for best practice? i suppose pen & post-it notes help. interesting to see that novels and stories haven’t appeared on the list too much. for obvious reasons i suppose.

  4. Cat Russell
    December 13, 2017

    Interesting list! I actually have been working on my next blogpost, which will be my list of books read this year with some descriptions, but I see no harm in posting them here as well:

    1. Extreme Makeover: Apocalypse Edition by Dan Wells (ebook via Overdrive)

    2. Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K. Dick (audiobook via Overdrive)

    3. In the Company of Russell Atkins (poetry anthology) (paperback)

    4. Aesop’s Fables (paperback)

    5. True Grit by Charles Portis (ebook via Overdrive)

    6. Wonder Woman volume 1 by Greg Rucka (graphic novel via Hoopla)

    7. Female Force: William Moulton Marston, the Creator of Wonder Woman (digital comic via Hoopla)

    8. Lock In by John Scalzi (ebook via Overdrive)

    9. Bombshells volume 1: Enlisted by various authors (graphic novel via Hoopla)

    10. The Shape of Home by Lee Chilcote (paperback, poetry re Cleveland and suburbia)

    11. Hag-Seed (a Hogarth Shakespeare novel) by Margaret Atwood (ebook via Overdrive)

    12. The Flintstones volume 1 by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh (graphic novel via Hoopla)

    13. World’s Best Life Hacks: 200 Ways to Make Your Life Easier by Sarah Devos (ebook via Hoopla)

    14. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (ebook via Overdrive)

    15. Protect Me (Mind Sweeper series, book 0) by AE Jone16. Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton
    (ebook via Overdrive)

    17. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein (audiobook via Overdrive)

    18. Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 1 (graphic novel via Hoopla) by various

    19. Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood (graphic novel via Hoopla) by various

    20. Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Guts (graphic novel via Hoopla) by various

    21. Wonder Woman Vol. 3: Iron (graphic novel via Hoopla) by various

    22. Wonder Woman Vol 4: War (graphic novel via Hoopla) by various

    Z23. Wonder Woman Vol 5: Flesh by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

    24. Mockingbird by Walter Tevis (audiobook via Overdrive)

    25. Wonder Woman Vol 6: Bones by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

    26. Wonder Woman Vol 7: War-torn by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

    27. Wonder Woman Vol 1: The Lies by Greg Rucka and various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

    28. Wonder Woman ’77: Vol 1 by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

    29. Scooby Apocalypse Vol 1 (graphic novel via Hoopla)

    30. Fight Club 2 (graphic novel via Hoopla) by Chuck Palahniuk, illustrated by Cameron Stewart

    31. The 6.5 Habits of Moderately Successful Poets by Jeffrey Skinner (ebook via Overdrive)

    32. Doctor Who: Revolutions of Terror (graphic novel via Hoopla)

    33. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Platt (ebook)

    34. The Princess Bride by William Goldman (audio book via Overdrive)

    35. The Walking Dead and Philosophy by multiple authors (ebook via Humble Bundle)

    36. Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy by multiple authors (ebook via Humble Bundle)

    37. Dirk Gentley’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (audio book via Hoopla)

    38. The Walking Dead volume 27: The Whisperer War by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

    39. The Walking Dead volume 28: A Certain Doom by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

    40. Sublime Stitching by Jenny Hart (ebook via Hoopla)

    41. Improv Sewing by Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut (ebook via Hoopla)

    42. Wonder Woman, vol 2, Year One (DC Universe Rebirth) by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

    43. Hoopla: the Art of Unexpected Embroidery by Leanne Prain (Trade paperback via library)

    44. Terminal Alliance: Book One of Janitors of the Post Apocalypse by Jim C. Hines (ebook via Overdrive)

    And I’m currently reading “How to be a Craftivist” and “Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy.”

    • Rob Hopkins
      December 13, 2017

      Brilliant. Thanks! I do love The Bell Jar. Thanks for sharing..

  5. Kitty de Bruin
    December 13, 2017

    Very interesting remark Phil, to keep track with notes. Although my experience is, that when i read a book again say after ten or twenty years, my view is shifted to another view, so the notes become different. I read so many books, but i seldom watch TV and i don’t read newspapers, but some practical books are for me evergreens. Like wilde bloemen in dutch, original is Wild flowers if Britain , 1977 by Roger Philips. I do eat my veggies combined with the wild goodies given by nature. A lot of books are in dutch or german, like das geheime leben der baüme by Peter Wohlleben. The last books of this year that i’m reading are the dutch version of seedbombs- going wild with flowers, published by leaping hare press in 2011 , so i could give workshops in our transition initiative in France to make these grenades des semences. And books like No dig Organic Home & garden by Dowding and Hafferty will be my guides to realize my imagination to be independent of supermarkets and grow our veggies, fruits combined with the wild variaties.
    Imagine all the people living in peace and reading books again…

  6. Patricia Knox
    December 13, 2017

    Wow! An impressive list. For me imagination is inspired from listening within. This spiritual essence ignites me. My world, our world, is dark without it. This Light Source moves us to express and create in our own unique way. The result is a “give away” of intelligence that is holistic and healing because it is from mind AND heart. Intelligence enlightens…so, shine on Rob!

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