One weekend, more than 30 comments and at least a dozen PMs later, we finally have it… a one page list (in very small print) of books to recommend our students, beginning interpreters, and just enjoy ourselves, with subjects covering finance, history, politics, the mighty and beautiful English language, and a bit of this and that trying to explain how the world works.
And here’s the final compilation:
Robert’s Rules of Order
World Order by Henry Kissinger
Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
The Culture Map by Erin Meyer
Beyond Culture by Edward T Hall
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson
Talking to My Daughter about the Economy by Yannis Varoufakis
The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson
How to Make the World Add Up by Tim Harford
A Walk Around the Block by Spike Carlsen
The Prize & The Quest by Daniel Yergin
The Age of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawm
Chernobyl by Serhii Plokhy
The Empire Must Die by Mikhail Zygar
Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 by Tony Judt
The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert Putnam
The English and Their History by Robert Tombs
Pax Britannica by Jan Morris
Y️our Voice Speaks Volumes by Jane Setter
The English Language by David Crystal
Getting Past No by William Ury
The Uses of Argument by Stephen Toulmin
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Don’t Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
For Dummies series & Big Ideas Simply Explained series by DK
The World in 2021 (2020, etc) by The Economist
Podcasts, Shows & Streams to consider:
Stuff You Should Know, A History of Britain by Simon Schama, Curiosity Stream, ARTE & BBC World Service Documentaries, David Attenborough, The Troublesome Terps.
And this is where I thank you, all of you who wrote in and recommended authors and titles. We have three clear winners, The Culture Map, Prisoners of Geography, and Freakonomics, and enough history to have us all occupied over the summer… which is why not all the history books have made the final cut. And I am very sorry about that.
In my defense, the idea was to at least try to keep it to a page, and as balanced as possible.
Special thanks go to Julia Poger and Chris Guichot de Fortis for getting me started on the idea in the first place, and to Julia Oskina and Heather McCrae for reminding me about streams and podcasts. Naturally, ARTE and Attenborough had to follow.
I would also like to apologize to those of you whose suggestions I couldn’t include, mainly because we eventually decided to stick to books in English for this one, but you have gotten me thinking.
I also have a pdf version I’d be happy to share with you, just let me know in a PM or via the comment section below.
P.S. This is by no means an exhaustive list…
It is also a somewhat subjective one based on and largely influenced by personal experience, and that of colleagues working in – more often than not – similar or “neighbouring” language combinations.