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Derrick Jensen’s Reading List

By Derrick Jensen | October 16, 2009

These days apart from the reading I do for research I have mainly been reading crap: mysteries and so on. I have a lot of trouble reading most nonfiction these days, because I disagree with so many of their premises. I just tried to read this wretched book called Speaking with the Devil: A Dialogue with Evil, by Carl Goldberg, which was supposed to be about why people commit atrocities. It was extremely racist in that it called indigenous peoples’ beliefs in spirits mere projections. It was also extremely pro-patriarchy in that it implicitly accepted a lot of the presumptions and premises of patriarchy. The same was true for a book I just read on Boudicca. It has some interesting history, but the author could not even conceptualize a people who are organized even remotely non-hierarchically, or a people where women are not somehow in thrall to men. The same is true when I try to read most books on environmental issues, where it’s clear in most cases that the authors never question the continued existence of civilization, but rather suggest cosmetic changes within this culture. I realize that I run into a lot of these same premises at work in works of fiction—and I recognize that many of these works of fiction end up being pro-police-state propaganda, but in those cases at least I have a plot to carry me forward: who committed the crime?

All that said, a few months ago I was delighted by the pro-environment novels of Carl Hiaasen (although I still have problems with his sexism), and read most of those. So far as fiction goes, right now I’m reading a novel sent to me by one of my publishers, asking for a blurb, and so far as non-fiction, I’m reading a biography of Napoleon. As far as what I’ve read in the past few months that has been really good, I read The Vegetarian Myth, by Lierre Keith (which I published), and I’ve read a lot of great books by the Dakota writer Waziyatawin.

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