Daniel Pick, author of Brainwashed: A New History of Thought Control recommends some great books! Before jumping into the interview, please check out Daniel's book:
Q. Do you have a favourite smart thinking book (and why that book)?
Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens and Homo Deus, if I’m allowed to treat them as single unit. Harari has a remarkable capacity to engage the reader, to appear to be casually thinking aloud, as he writes (beautifully fluently), and to wear his extensive learning lightly. I have opted to respond by suggesting this pair of books as they are so interconnected. Each distils so much historical knowledge while also engaging in a kind of enlightened ‘futurology’.
Q. What's the most recent smart thinking book you've read (and how would you rate it)?
I enjoyed Susan Cain’s Quiet. It stimulated a variety of thoughts about the world we are in, and the post-war world that has shaped so much of our social, commercial and cultural life. Around the same time I read ‘Quiet’ I also read, with much interest, Jill Lepore’s fascinating study of the Simulmatics corporation, If Then. That book explores the role that this ‘IT’ organization played in Kennedy’s election campaign in 1960. Lepore sets out a mostly forgotten history highly relevant to the world of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. I do not recall the exact sequence in which I read those two books in the last two years, but can’t help but jot down two other studies I read around the same time, Anne Appelbaum’s The Twilight of Democracy and Sarah Churchwell’s Behold America: A History of America First and the American Dream. Both works provide important reflections on present dark times, and on twentieth-century history.
Q. Do you have a favourite childhood book?
Hard to know where to reach back to exactly, and how far it is possible in some cases for me to differentiate entirely my childhood reading, from my cartoon watching, rapture at the movies, first encounters with theatre, or even later screenings of old Disney animations. I loved as a child, Kipling’s The Jungle Book and Dickens’ Oliver Twist, for instance, and in both cases the texts and the dramatizations overlap in my memories. In short, I’m struggling to choose a single favourite!
Q. Do you prefer reading on paper, Kindle or listening to an audiobook?
Q. Do you have a favourite bookshop (and why that shop)?
I’m sure I’m far from alone in responding by saying Shakespeare and Company in Paris. I tend to drift in that direction on occasional visits to the city, beguiled by the atmosphere of the bookshop and the warm invitation to browse and loose a sense of time. As a research student, now long ago, but also sometimes afterwards, as a lecturer, I spent many an hour rummaging around the second-hand collections of the wonderful Skoob Books in Sicilian Avenue in London.
Image Copyrights: Profile Books Ltd (Brainwashed), Penguin Books Ltd (Quiet, Twilight of Democracy, The Jungle Books, Oliver Twist), Vintage Publishing (Sapiens, Homo Deus), John Murray Press (If Then), Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (Behold, America).