Reading Is Critical

 Reading is critical, in both senses of the word. Crucial, of course, insofar as it is a cornerstone of communication, a primary means by which we receive information. But it is also an active form of resistance, a tactic in the struggle against ignorance, misinformation, and manipulation. To read is to become knowledgeable; to become knowledgeable is to become powerful. We invite visiting authors, booksellers, and members of our community to submit "Critical Reading" lists featuring books that are, in these senses, “critical.” Submit yours by emailing, and check each post for details on related events!

April 16th, 2017

Vincent Katz is a poet, translator, critic, and curator. The author of Swimming Home (Nightboat Books, 2015) and The Complete Elegies of Sextus Propertius (Princeton University Press, 2004), he is also the editor of Black Mountain College: Experiment in Art (MIT Press, 2002; reprinted 2013), and he is the curator of the “Readings in Contemporary Poetry” series at DIA Chelsea. Katz’s selections of poems from the series, 2010 through 2016, is forthcoming from DIA. A collaboration with poet Anne Waldman, will be brought out by Blaze Vox in 2017. Vincent Katz lives in New York City and teaches at the Yale School of Art. ...

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April 16th, 2017

Henry Israeli’s poetry collections are god’s breath hovering across the waters (Four Way Books: 2016), Praying to the Black Cat (Del Sol: 2010), and New Messiahs (Four Way Books: 2002). He is also the translator of three books by Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku and founder and editor of Saturnalia Books. Israeli reads, with poets Michael Robins and Abigail Zimmer, Wed. 4/19 6pm at the Co-op. RSVP and details here

These days the act of reading itself can feel radical and revolutionary. Here is a list of some recent books, fiction and poetry, that in different ways embrace the idea that human nature is more complex than we could ever imagine.

A Brief History of...

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April 4th, 2017

Lorraine Daston is director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and is visiting professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Science in the Archives: Pasts, Presents, Futures, which Daston edited, studies the important role that archives play in the natural and human sciences. She will join Benjamin Morgan, author of The Outward Mind: Materialist Aesthetics in Victorian Science and Literatureat the Co-op on Wed. 4/12. RSVP and details here.



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April 3rd, 2017

David Shulman is Professor Emeritus of Indian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After taking a first degree at the Hebrew University in Arabic and Persian and falling in love with Persian poetry, he drifted eastward from Iran into India. He was trained in Tamil and Sanskrit at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London by John Ralston Marr, Wendy Doniger, and Peter Khoroche. He has published widely on the cultural and intellectual history of southern India in pre-modern times with particular emphasis on Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam. He has worked closely and published books together with Velcheru Narayana Rao, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Don Handelman, Yigal Bronner, and Gary Tubb. In recent years he has been absorbed in the study of the Kerala tradition of Kudiyattam, the last living form of Sanskrit drama in the world, and each year he takes students and...

March 21st, 2017

The below was originally posted on the Restless Books blog:

In advance of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing-winner Deepak Unnikrishnan's March 22 event at Seminary Coop, the great Chicago bookstore asked him to participate in their “Reading is Critical” series, in which they invite visiting authors to submit a selected reading list of “Critical Reading”— titles that the author finds, personally, critical. We find Deepak's list to be so essential and illuminating—not only as a background for his debut novel, Temporary People, but also as a guide to some of the most vital contemporary and classic world literature—that we're sharing it here as well. Happy...

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March 8th, 2017

“There never was a war that was not inward.”

-Marianne Moore

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March 5th, 2017

Henry A. Giroux is a prolific writer and political commentator, who was a central figure in the development of critical pedagogy. His most recent book, America at War with Itself, was published by City Lights in 2016. 


It’s time to think dangerously again. In part, this means learning how to hold power accountable, search for the truth, embrace thoughtfulness, and recognize that no society ever reaches the limits of justice. Such thinking should be capable of both understanding and engaging the major upheavals people face and be able to connect such problems to both historical memory and larger political, structural, and economic issues. Such thinking nurtures the imagination and envisions a future...

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