High Five: Reading List by Yuri Kabanov
The academic year is gradually gaining momentum, and textbooks, along with academic papers, are becoming a part of bedtime reading. If you would like to read something different and useful, read the reading list by Yuri Kabanov, co-head of the programme 'Political Science and World Politics'. There you will find books about statistics and cats, a collection of short stories-assumptions, and others.
'Metaphors We Live By' by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson.
This book focuses on the phenomenon of metaphor and tells the reader that words and their meaning are important in the speech of politicians but also in our daily lives. Metaphors let is learn and transform reality. They tell us how to relate to a particular phenomenon and act in specific cases.
As a scholar, I am interested in watching how speeches of politicians are transformed into political lines and affect public perception of the present-day situation. For example, what will change if the pandemic becomes a 'war against the virus', and the Internet turns into a 'space'?
'Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty' by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson.
This book is a must for those who are engaged in social sciences. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty is a vital conversation for political science about the institutions and norms which determine social development and prosperity.
I like the way the authors lead a reader up to the 'riddle' of the study and give examples from different regions and historical periods. It is important to learn from the book both the main thesis about the importance of inclusive institutions and numerous interesting cases about country development.
'The Castle' by Franz Kafka
Some colleagues of mine have already mentioned this book in their recommendations, and I agree that everyone might find something different in this novel. I think, first of all, this novel is about the uncertainty that K, the protagonist, is struggling with in trying to figure out how the world works in the village and castle. Just like a political scientist opening 'the black box' of D. Easton's political system.
Second, this novel is a work about bureaucracy and its self-sufficiency. Of course, this idea can be drawn from The Trial by F.Kafka, but I think that this book expresses this idea more metaphorically. The Castle can serve a reference book for any manager: it is a guide on how one should not organize the administrative processes.
'The Tree of Possibles' by Bernard Werber
When you read a lot of academic and scientific literature, it is not easy to find enough time for nonfiction books. In this case, stories come to help us, and here I should mention the collection of stories of Bernard Werber. The author fantasizes about different events presuming 'what would have happened if...'. Each story is, as the author says, 'the assumption taken to its logical conclusion', which is often incredible and absurd.
I liked not all the stories, but I found a lot of funny thoughts and ideas, which make me think about familiar things. The author's imagination is admirable, as well as his talent to ask non-trivial questions - this is a personal trait I try to develop myself.
'Statistics and Cats' ('Statistika i Kotiki') by Vladimir Savelyev (in Russian)
After I graduated from school, maths and I parted our ways for a very long time. Finally getting convinced of that I sided with 'humanities', I suddenly realized that the social sciences were not only about letters but also numbers. The language of statistics, which seemed to be incredibly complex and beyond my understanding, turned out to be quite common for many scholars in political science. If I had had the book Statistics and Cats before, it would have been easier for me to switch to the 'quantitative' side, I am sure of it.
In the book, Vladimir Savelyev clearly explains the basic statistical methods using illustrations cats of different colours and sizes. This way of presentation makes it easier to understand complex concepts such as variance, correlation, regression etc. I also like the pedagogical approach used in this book. I always try explaining the material by giving simple examples, and Statistics and Cats is a good illustration of how to make complex things fun and simple.