Outstanding Academic Titles 2023: Most Read Reviews Part Two

This week we highlight the most read reviews that are Outstanding Academic Titles of 2023, part two.

Enjoy these five selections from the Choice Reviews 2023 Outstanding Academic Titles list. This week we highlight, in no particular order, part two of the most read reviews of the Outstanding Academic Titles from the past year. A hearty congratulations to the winning authors, editors and publishers!

1. Geek girls: inequality and opportunity in Silicon Valley
Twine, France Winddance. New York University, 2022

Geek Girls is a critical, significant sociological work on structural inequality in technology occupations. Drawing on her extensive ethnographic interviews and framing those experiences within an intersectional lens, Twine (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) provides a multi-vocal account of the sexism and racism present in Silicon Valley and contributes a seminal book that will advance readers’ understanding of occupational inequality beyond the technology industry. Twine uses her deep ethnographic data from women across the spectrum of gender, racial, and ethnic identities and countries of origin to illustrate nuanced concepts—e.g., the glass wall, bonding capital, geek capital, and first- and second-generation technology workers—that reproduce systemic inequities pertaining to gender and race. The author carefully demonstrates how “myths,” such as leaky pipelines and meritocracy, can obscure the larger systemic inequality at play and how social capital and networks reinforce that same inequality. She also shares insights into ways to address this inequity based on her interviews with women in Silicon Valley.

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2. The continuing storm: learning from Katrina
Erikson, Kai. by Kai Erikson and Lori Peek Texas, 2022

Recognizing that natural disasters are also social disasters, Erikson (emer., Yale Univ.) and Peek (Univ. of Colorado, Boulder) interpret Hurricane Katrina and its social fallout by placing the storm in a larger context. Katrina hit New Orleans after generations of concentrated poverty had already impacted people and set in motion the continuous dislocation of the city’s Black residents. “Where are you a person?” is the question the authors heard from Louisianans when explaining what defines identity and home. For the state’s Black citizens who have been displaced, the answer may be that there is no personhood to be had in Louisiana. Even before Katrina, Black residents of New Orleans were subjected to the chronic social disasters of poverty, disinvestment in communities, gentrification, and disenfranchisement, all of which accelerated during the city’s post-disaster reconstruction. In detailing the storm’s aftermath, Erikson and Peek describe what can be considered, though not in their own words, only a form of ethnic cleansing that took place through bureaucratic competence and incompetence.

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3. The transformative potential of LGBTQ+ children’s picture books
Miller, Jennifer. University Press of Mississippi, 2022

Miller (Univ. of Texas, Arlington) examines the relatively recent genesis of children’s picture books exploring LGBTQ+ issues, and examines a variety of such books written to address these issues. The text is organized in seven chapters that address the intersection of LGBTQ+ issues and children’s literature, a genealogy of the early years of children’s LGBTQ+ books, the treatment of LGBTQ+ adults in such books, coverage of “sissy boys” and tomboys, queer and gender-fluid youth, sexuality, and interpretations of LGBTQ+ individuals and events throughout history. There are three appendixes, the first containing the author’s correspondence with pioneer LGBTQ+ author Jane Severance, the second containing correspondence with author Daniel Haak, and the third containing an archive of most LGBTQ+ children’s books published between 1991 and 2018. This is an outstanding resource that could be useful as a reference work but which could also easily serve as a class text. View on Amazon


4. Earthly order: how natural laws define human life
Ali, Saleem H. Oxford, 2022

The natural world is ordered in a number of ways, described by the fields of chemistry, physics, astronomy, biology, and so on. Social systems are also orderly, as described in psychology, politics, government, and business. In this ambitious book, Ali (geography and spatial science, Univ. of Delaware) tries to synthesize the natural and political worlds, and bridge the gap between natural and social systems, doing so in particular with a systems view of environmental problem solving. In putting the book together, iAli was motivated by the need for a handbook that could be used by the ordered sciences as a tool for sustainable development in the face of what can only be described as a planetary crisis. The arguments Ali presents are pitched to be accessible to the public, i.e., those who are and will be charged with the task of avoiding an environmental crisis. At the same time, this is not a dumbed-down version of academic texts on science, politics, and the environment.
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5The digital mindset: what it really takes to thrive in the age of data, algorithms, and AI
Leonardi, Paul. by Paul Leonardi and Tsedal Neeley Harvard Business Review Press, 2022

Leonardi (technology management, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) and Neeley (Harvard Univ.) provide an engaging roadmap for embracing digital literacy—a prerequisite to leading in today’s digital age. By developing a digital mindset, readers can establish a practice for technology and data-driven decision-making and better identify opportunities to maintain competitiveness across almost every industry. The authors introduce the 30-percent rule as a marker to establish competency across the three areas of a digital mindset: collaboration, computation, and change. The first part of the book examines the intersection of how humans and machines interact. The authors urge embracing machines not as mere tools but as partners and collaborators. The book’s second part clarifies the nature of data and how data can translate into information for reasoning and making decisions. The third and final part of the book examines how a digital mindset is an essential driver for understanding and promoting change in today’s digital world. With great examples and case studies, this book is an excellent read for everyone—tech savvy or not—interested in challenging themselves to become better leaders, managers, and data-driven decision-makers.
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