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LIDC Director Shares Her Summer Reading Recommendations

August 11, 2023

Summer holidays are here, and what better way to spend the days than reading some books that allow you to see the world through different lenses. Whether you spend your holidays at the beach or in the park, books can always be good company. From fiction to investigative journalism to biographies and more, this short list of recommendations may have something for all readers. Here are a few of the informative and stimulating books I’ve somehow found time to explore so far this summer. Do please let me know if you have any recommendations: I tweet (‘X’) @cheffernan_LIDC.


Edible economics: a hungry economist explains the world by Ha Joon Chang (Penguin Books Ltd, 2022) 

(Themes: global economy, food history, business, economic theory)

Edible Economics is a unique endeavour where author Ha Joon Chang uses stories of familiar foods from around the world to explain some key themes in economics. Through chocolate, anchovies, and okra, the chapters take us over economic concepts of taxation, austerity, and globalisation. Edible Economics is an insightful myth-busting and informative book, and Chang makes understanding global economic phenomena fun and accessible for all through the history of food.


The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell (Hogarth Press, 2019)

(Themes: Afro-centric, speculative fiction, science fiction, historical fiction)

This novel follows the story of three families across three generations in a colonial settlement in Zambia – the Old Drift. It is an enthralling saga weaving the past, the present and the near future, with vibrant characters, and elements inspired by real people and events (such as the little-known Zambian Space Programme of the 1960s). The Old Drift is unique in its way of storytelling and combining elements of science fiction and historical fiction.


Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America by Marcia Chatelain (Liveright, 2020)

(Themes: fast food industry, Black Capitalism, Food Politics, USA, Public welfare)

Chatelain traces the overlapping history of black capitalism and the fast food industry in the USA. Focusing on McDonalds, this book discusses how the fast food franchise arose as an opportunity for African American businessmen to freedom and wealth, and the challenges they continued to face due to systemic racism. Franchise is a well-researched account of the links between fast food and the civil rights movement becoming both an opportunity and an adversity for African Americans.

Black and Female by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Faber, 2022)

(Themes: Empire, Colonialism, Feminism/Black Women & Agency)

“The first wound for all of us who are classified as ‘black’ is empire. This is a truth many of us – whether we are included in that category or not – prefer to avoid.”Starting with a brief history of her country, the much-heralded  Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga takes a deep dive into the impact of Empire, via the psychology of patriarchy. She harnesses anger and pain to issue what is in effect a rallying call to Black feminists ‘of conscience.’ You don’t have to be Black or female to read this. Indeed, not being Black or female is probably more reason why you should read – and share – this powerful collection of essays.

Special thanks to Manvika Agarwal 

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