Best Cultural Anthropology Books 2016

Best Cultural Anthropology Books 2016

Cultural Anthropology sounds difficult but is actually very interesting.  In the study of human kind, the cultural differences that make us who we are and what we are can be subtle or overwhelming.  These cultural anthropology books are some of the most popular in 2016.  They cover a wide range of topics, from the tragic story of Lia, a Hmong child in America; to elite athletes and learning to run.

Read these books and learn some cultural anthropology without trying too hard.  You’ll benefit in several areas from our list of 10 Reasons Why reading is important, including smarter, attractive, and self discovery.

1. Outliers: The Story of Success  – Malcolm Gladwell

Cultural Anthropology - Outliers
In this book, the author of Tipping Point and Blink, Malcom Gladwell writes about people who are exceptional. They are exceptional because they do not fit into normal understanding of achievement. These people are successful, smart and rich. So who are the outliers? Malcom Gladwell analyses lives and success of people like Bill Gates, physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and the popular band Beatles, among others.

There are reasons why outliers succeed. Why they become who they are? Gladwell goes beyond their intelligence and ambition to explain how and why these outliers become who they are. He shifts his focus from their career path and instead focuses on the environment they were born and grew up in. Gladwell sheds a different light on the way to the success and he is giving hope to all of us who want to succeed, because being an extremely intelligent person is not the most important thing for success. So if you want to learn another secret of success read Outliers: The Story of Success.

2. Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging – Sebastian Junger

Cultural Anthropology - Tribe
People are social beings. But in this modernized world we live isolated lives which can lead to many problems. One of the problems is very noticeable among war veterans. Many of them commit suicide after they return home. Again, one of the reasons is because they feel isolated. According to the author of Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, Sebastian Junger, this problem can be resolved by learning from tribal societies.

What can the average person learn from tribal societies? We can learn about cooperation, inter-connection, inter-reliance and belonging. The tribal behavior, in our disconnected society, usually emerges when disaster strikes. In these situations people bond, they come together, they help one another. This has been seen over and over in major disasters like 9-11. This book is especially interesting because it explains how tribal behavior can be useful and how it can be achieved in our modern society.

3. Born to Run: A Hidden tribe, Superathletes – Christopher McDougall

Cultural Anthropology - Born To Run
To run a marathon is a dream of many runners, yet many runners are prone to injuries. In Born to Run: A Hidden tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen Christopher McDougall is unraveling the secrets of running. McDougall, a passionate runner himself, starts to do the research on members of the tribe Tarahumara. The tribe of Tarahumara is a Native Mexican tribe in the Copper Canyons in Mexico. They have amazing ability to run very long distances without getting hurt. In this book McDougall discovers and shares their secret of running.
Beside that McDougall promotes endurance running hypothesis. He tries to find the answer to why are humans the only species among primates that have developed a capacity for endurance running. This book should be read by all running enthusiasts, because it provides an answer to the question that bothers us the most; how to run and enjoy running without getting hurt.

4. The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell

Cultural Anthropology - Power of Myth
Myth is significant to human beings. It addresses the basic fundamental questions like who we are, and what the purpose of life is. It is deeply rooted in our lives and our cultures. The Power of Myth is a book that focus on the myth, its history, mythical heroes and everything else connected to the myth.

The Power of Myth is published as a companion book to PBS documentary: Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth. The book is based on the interviews between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers in the documentary. This is great source for all who want to learn more about  myths. Campbell & Moyers’ in-depth knowledge on the subject is amazing and encompassing. They approach the myth from different angles using different sources ranging from historical to popular culture.

5. The Spirit Catches you and You Fall Down – Anne Fadiman

Cultural Anthropology - The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down
In this heartbreaking and engaging book Anne Fadiman brings a documentary story without heroes or villains. She brings a story about the clash of culture. On one side there is modern US medicine and on the other the Hmong family whose child, Lia, is brain dead.

There is so much to learn from this book. Beside the Lia’s story, this book provides an insight into American involvement in the war in Laos, Hmong culture, customs and history, immigration problems such as discrimination and assimilation. Furthermore The Spirit Catches you and You Fall Down is a book about cultural and medical anthropology. It became a base for the argument for greater cultural competence in medicine. It was cited by many medical journals. In 1997 it won National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction. In today’s world when societies are more mixed and multicultural; and migration flows are huge; this book can be a good guide to learn how and why is important to understand those who come from different cultures.

6. Seeing Like a State – James C Scott

Cultural Anthropology - Seeing Like A State
According to James C Scott, ideology of High Modernism is a bad thing especially when governments believe in them. High Modernism is an ideology that emphasizes technocratic and scientific rationality. i.e. It believes that for every situation there is one correct answer. But the universal generalization cannot be applied because each problem, situation, society and person is different.

Reading this book you will learn about State attempts to standardize society under the pretext of improvement.  According to the author, to date all States have failed in doing that.

This is an intriguing book that deals with the question about centralized planning and it argues that planning is not just risky, but it also can have unexpected outcome and effects on society. It is especially dangerous in the societies that are authoritarian and do not have developed civil society.

Seeing Like a State is provocative book that should be read in order to understand how exercise of centralized power and planned development can be very dangerous.

Mark Zuckerberg Book Club part 2

Mark Zuckerberg Book Club part 2

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO wanted to read an important book every two weeks last year.    It was his new years resolution.  Half way through, WTR reviewed the books to date on Mark Zuckerberg’s book club list for 2015.

Zuckerberg’s book club list was intended to emphasize learning about new cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.  Something he felt important for everyone.  Something he felt could connect people, through discussion.

Its way past time we complete this list and help you broaden your reading. You can read about the first eleven books here.

Mark Zuckerberg Book Club – part 2

1. Why Nations Fail – Daren Acemoglu & James Robinson

Mark Zuckerberg Book ClubMark Zuckerberg Book Club
#1 Best Seller in Comparative Politics
Understanding poverty and the factors that contribute to nations being rich or poor may seem a little over our heads. Why Nations Fail tries to pin down political, social and economic factors that are important in understanding the big WHY. Based on over fifteen years of research this really is a comprehensive study on what makes sister countries like South and North Korea so different. There are numerous examples stretching the globe and the book is written for the everyday reader. All in all, this book aims to give us an understanding of some globally challenging issues but in an easy to understand way.

2.The Rational Optimist – Matt Ridley

Mark Zuckerberg Book ClubMark Zuckerberg Book Club
With climate change, overpopulation and bad politics, there seems to be nothing to look forward to in the future. Matt Ridley tries to show us that humans have in fact achieved a lot and that there is only one real way of going forward and that is to trade and trust one another. The book is a look into the economic future of the world and where we are headed as a civilization. The Rational Optimist aims to give us a silver lining to all the gloom and doom that we hear of daily. This is Ridley’s third best seller and he continues to charm with his wit and his economic thought is unparalleled.

3. Portfolios of the Poor – Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford & Orlanda Ruthven

Mark Zuckerberg Book ClubMark Zuckerberg Book Club
It is pretty difficult (for most of us) to imagine living on $2 a day. How do you feed your family? educate your kids? save for a pension? Portfolios of the Poor gives us an insight into how the poorest live each day and how billions struggle to do some of the stuff we take for granted. The authors conducted interviews with some of the poorest people around the globe and have tried their best to bring together their stories and struggles in a ‘tell all book’. It is considered a pivotal text in the dialogue on poverty and understanding what it really means to be poor in a world that applauds the wealthy.

4. World Order – Henry Kissinger

Mark Zuckerberg Book ClubMark Zuckerberg Book Club
Hendry Kissinger has an advisor to some of America’s most powerful people for many years. In his World Order, he brings together all of his experience in foreign policy, diplomacy, and thinking in order to look at what it really means to have world order. Can we ever get to ‘ world peace’ with all the conflicts that exist? This book tries to give us insight into the inner working of the world and why getting all our ducks in a row is not as simple as beauty pageants would have us think. Word Order is a valuable study and many are saying that this book ( published 2014) is Kissinger’s best book to date.

5. The Varieties Of Religious Experience: A Study In Human Nature – William James

Mark Zuckerberg Book ClubMark Zuckerberg Book Club
Religion vs Science is and will continue to be a topic of universal debate. In The Varieties of Religious Experience, we find 20 different lectures concerning religion. All these lectures were given between 1901 and 1902 at the university of Edinburgh. This collection of lectures is still widely read and is considered a staple in many university courses today. The discussions try and pinpoint religion’s hold on people, how we individually experience religion and what it means to be religious in a world that is evolving in thought. Considered as one of those classic MUST READS, it is a text that defies time and holds essential arguments.

6. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari

Mark Zuckerberg Book ClubMark Zuckerberg Book Club
#1 Best Seller in Anthropology
What does it mean to be a human? Can we pin down that ONE factor? Well, we may not be able to but Yuval Noah Harari does his best. Sapiens tries to look at human evolution and what humans have achieved and how. Being a prolific historian, Harari is able to weave his knowledge of history with biology in order to give us an overview of how our species won the battle and survived. The book is a best seller and people have been charmed by the way in which the touchy topic of evolution is presented in an easy to read and well-researched way. Harari is an author to watch and this book should be read by both academics and the everyday curious global citizen.