Ezra Klein (born May 10, 1984) is an American well-respected political commentator and journalist. He is a co-founder of Vox and formerly served as the website’s editor-at-large. so it’s no surprise that he has some strong opinions when it comes to books.
In this article, Klein recommends some must-read books for anyone who wants to understand politics and policy. Whether you’re a diehard fan of Klein or just looking for some good book recommendations, you’ll find something to love on this list.
Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop by Lee Drutman
In his book, Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop, political scientist Lee Drutman argues that the winner-take-all system of our two-party system is the root cause of much of our political dysfunction.
The system creates incentives for both parties to campaign in ways that exacerbate tribalism and polarization, and to govern in ways that entrench their power and protect their interests. Drutman offers a way out of this cycle of dysfunction: reform our elections so that we have a more representative democracy.
Drutman’s book is a timely contribution to our national conversation about how to fix our broken politics. His diagnosis of the problem is spot-on, and his proposed solution—election reform—is both necessary and achievable. We highly recommend Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop to anyone who cares about the future of American democracy.
Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull
In his book, Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull shares his experience as the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and President of Walt Disney Animation Studios.
He talks about the importance of creativity and innovation in the ever-changing landscape of the entertainment industry. He also gives insights on how to create a culture that fosters creativity and how to overcome creative blocks.
Down Girl by Kate Manne
The “down girl” of the title is not a specific woman, but rather a stand-in for all women who are marginalized, belittled, or treated unfairly because of their gender.
In her book, Kate Manne argues that misogyny is not simply a hatred of women, but a system of oppression that relies on keeping women “in their place.” She shows how this system plays out in both everyday interactions and major events, such as the 2016 presidential election.
While Manne’s analysis can be frustrating at times, it is always thought-provoking and provides a much-needed feminist perspective on some of the most pressing issues facing our society today.
Give People Money by Annie Lowrey
In “Give People Money,” Annie Lowrey makes the case for a universal basic income (UBI). She argues that UBI would reduce poverty and inequality, while also providing people with the freedom to pursue their dreams.
Lowrey cites evidence from around the world to support her case and offers a detailed plan for how UBI could be implemented in the United States.
How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
In her book, How to Do Nothing, Jenny Odell argues that we need to do less, not more. The answer to our current crisis isn’t working harder or producing more, but rather learning how to do nothing.
Odell’s argument is based on the idea that our attention is a finite resource, and we are constantly under attack by those who want to sell us something.
From social media notifications to ads masquerading as news articles, we are constantly bombarded with requests for our attention. This constant barrage has negative consequences for both our mental and physical health.
Odell believes that the solution is not to try to do more things, but rather to learn how to do nothing.
Let the People Pick the President by Jesse Wegman
In his book, “Let the People Pick the President,” New York Times editorial board member Jesse Wegman makes a compelling case for why it’s time to get rid of the electoral college and allow the popular vote to determine the winner of presidential elections.
Wegman argues that the electoral college is an undemocratic relic of a bygone era that no longer serves any useful purpose. He points out that in two of the last five presidential elections, the candidate who won the most votes (Al Gore in 2000 and Hillary Clinton in 2016) did not win the election because they lost in the electoral college.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
In his novel, “Nothing to See Here,” Kevin Wilson gives readers a hilarious and heartwarming look at what it means to be different.
Wilson’s novel follows the story of two young girls who are sent to live with their father’s former flame, a woman who has the ability to spontaneously combust.
The girls must learn to navigate their new life, while also dealing with the challenges that come with being different.
With its funny and relatable characters, “Nothing to See Here” is a must-read for anyone who has ever felt like they don’t quite fit in.
On Deaf Ears by George C. Edwards III
George C. Edwards III’s book, On Deaf Ears, explores the communication breakdowns that often occur between political leaders and the public. Edwards argues that these breakdowns are due to a lack of understanding of how people process information and make decisions.
Edwards provides readers with a framework for understanding how people think about politics and make decisions. He also offers strategies for political leaders to better communicate with the public. On Deaf Ears is an important book for anyone interested in understanding how political communication works.
Overreach by George C. Edwards III
In his book, Overreach, George C. Edwards III examines the presidency of Barack Obama and argues that his administration has been characterized by an overreliance on executive power.
Edwards, a professor of political science at Texas A&M University and a fellow at the Brookings Institution, contends that Obama has exceeded his constitutional authority on a number of fronts, including health care reform, environmental regulation, and national security.
The president has also been accused of politicizing the Justice Department and the IRS, and of using executive orders to bypass Congress.
Critics say that Obama’s overreach has eroded faith in government and could have long-term consequences for the country. But supporters argue that he has had to take bold action in order to get things done in the face of Republican opposition.
Predicting the Presidency by George C. Edwards III
In his book, “Predicting the Presidency,” George C. Edwards III applies statistical analysis to presidential elections and argues that the winner of the popular vote has only a 50/50 chance of winning the Electoral College.
Edwards’ analysis begins with Theodore Roosevelt’s election in 1904. He looks at every presidential election since then and calculates the probability of each candidate winning based on their share of the popular vote.
Edwards argues that if a candidate wins the popular vote by more than 2%, they have a very good chance of winning the Electoral College. However, if they win by less than 2%, their chances of winning are only about 50/50.
This year, Edwards predicts that Hillary Clinton has about a 60% chance of winning the presidency, based on her current lead in the polls.
Something Deeply Hidden by Sean Carroll
In his book, Something Deeply Hidden, theoretical physicist Sean Carroll argues that quantum mechanics reveals a far deeper level of reality than we ever suspected.
Carroll, a research professor at the California Institute of Technology, has spent his career grappling with the implications of quantum mechanics. In Something Deeply Hidden, he makes a case that the theory requires us to rethink everything we thought we knew about reality.
According to Carroll, quantum mechanics reveals that there is much more to the Universe than meets the eye. The hidden depths of reality are far stranger than anything we could have imagined.
Stealth Democracy by John R. Hibbing
John R. Hibbing’s Stealth Democracy challenges the widely-held belief that democracy is a system in which the public actively and openly participates. Hibbing argues that, in reality, most people prefer to avoid the hassle of politics and delegate power to those they trust.
This “stealth” form of democracy may not be ideal, but it is more efficient and leads to better outcomes than an overtly participatory system. Hibbing’s book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how democracy really works.
The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki
Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form and Emptiness is a beautifully written and insightful book that explores the nature of emptiness and form. Ozeki draws on her own experiences as a Zen Buddhist priest to explore the concept of emptiness, and how it can be used to find clarity in our lives.
Ozeki’s writing is both accessible and profound, and her exploration of the nature of form and emptiness is sure to leave readers with a new understanding of these concepts. Whether you’re a seasoned Zen practitioner or just beginning your journey, The Book of Form and Emptiness is an essential read.
The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin
In N. K. Jemisin’s “The City We Became,” the five boroughs of New York come to life as sentient beings in order to save themselves from an otherworldly threat.
This urban fantasy is rich with detail and populated by a diverse cast of characters that will keep readers engaged throughout. Jemisin is a master of worldbuilding, and her latest novel is a love letter to the city of New York.
The Gamble by John Sides
In his book, “The Gamble,” John Sidesargues that the 2012 presidential election was not as close as many people think. He argues that Mitt Romney never had a chance of winning and that the real contest was between Barack Obama and himself.
Sides makes a compelling case that the election was not as close as it seemed. He points to the fact that Obama won by a wide margin in the popular vote, and he argues that Romney never had a chance of winning the Electoral College.
Sides’ book is sure to stir up controversy among political pundits and analysts. But it’s an important contribution to our understanding of the 2012 election, and it should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand how American politics really works.
The Gardener and the Carpenter by Alison Gopnik
In her book, The Gardener and the Carpenter, Alison Gopnik sets out to understand the difference between the way parents raise their children and the way animals do.
Gopnik, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, spent years observing parents and children in homes and playgrounds. She also looked at how different animals rear their young.
What she found is that parents are like gardeners, while animals are more like carpenters. Gardeners try to cultivate their plants so they will grow into healthy adults. Carpenters, on the other hand, build things for a specific purpose and then move on.
Gopnik argues that parenting should be more like gardening than carpentry. That means giving children the time and space to explore and learn on their own, rather than trying to control every aspect of their lives.
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
The Ministry for the Future is a science fiction novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, published in 2020. The novel tells the story of a future world in which the Earth has been devastated by climate change, and the efforts of a global organisation, the Ministry for the Future, to reverse the trend.
The novel has been praised for its realistic portrayal of the science of climate change, and its vision of a future world in which international cooperation is essential to survival.
The Polarized Presidency of George W. Bush by George C Edwards III
The Price of Peace by Zachary D. Carter
The Shallows by Nicholas Carr
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar
Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert
What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer
Why the Electoral College Is Bad for America by George C. Edwards III
Beyond Ideology by Frances E. Lee
Matrix by Lauren Groff