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Department Updates June 27, 2024

What we’re reading: Summer 2024

Summer’s in full swing,  and if you’re anything like us in the Economics Department, you’re building out a summer reading list to remember.

Whether you’re looking to pass the time on a long flight or just trying to make the most of some easy summer nights, our faculty have a few recommendations to get you through Labor Day.

“Clay Walls” by Kim Ronyoung

Recommended by Assistant Professor of Economics Ellora Derenoncourt

Clay Walls By Kim Ronyoung

“As an economic historian, I rarely get a chance to hear the human voices in the stories our datasets tell, so I often find myself reading historical fiction to get a feel for what life was like on the ground. This summer I’ve enjoyed reading “Clay Walls,” a novel about a Korean immigrant family’s struggle to survive and thrive in Los Angeles of the 1930s and 1940s. The book touches on the segregation and discrimination faced by Asian Americans in housing, schools, and jobs during this period, the cleavages created by World War II, and the complex social forces shaping immigrant workers, and especially women’s, engagement with the labor market. A fantastic read for anyone interested in urban economic history and the experiences of Asian immigrant and other minority communities in the historical U.S.”

“The Worlds I See” by Fei Fei Li

Recommended by Professor Motohiro Yogo

“The Worlds I See” by Fei Fei Li

“Since this is Princeton pre-read, I’m sure everyone is reading it, but “The Worlds I See” by Fei Fei Li is the best book I’ve read in recent memory. The book is a very accessible history of AI for non-experts, intertwined with a powerful and hopeful narrative of an immigrant family. There are some parallels to my life. I immigrated to the US at age 9, not speaking the language. And receiving the ‘Yes’ letter from Princeton (as an undergraduate applicant) was the luckiest break of my life.” 

“Unlocking the World” by John Darwin

Recommended by Professor Stephen Redding

Unlocking the World: Port Cities and Globalization in the Age of Steam, 1830-1930

“I recently read two books related to globalization in world history. The first is “Unlocking the World: Port Cities and Globalization in the Age of Steam 1830-1930” by John Darwin, which offer new insights on how steam technology transformed the degree of integration in the world economy, and the role of port cities in mediating that impact in different places. The second is “One from the Many: The Global Economy Since 1850” by Christopher Meissner, which provides a state-of-the-art textbook treatment of our understanding of the determinants and effects of the integration of world markets for goods and factors of production since the mid-19th century.”

“V13” by Emmanuel Carrere

Recommended by Professor Gianluca Violante

"V13" by Emmanuel Carrere

“I am reading “V13” by Emmanuel Carrere, one of my favorite living authors. He is a French writer who excels in recounting historical events (“Limonov” is another masterpiece of his). V13 is a detailed chronicle of the trial of the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks of November 2015. It is divided in three parts: the victims, the accused, and the court. It is gripping and moving. It alternates between precise compilations of forensic evidence and the humanity of the individual stories of victims, survivors, and accused—all tragic in their own way. It is not for the faint of heart, but it is a book that constantly reminds us of the ‘banality of evil,’ the complexity of conflict, and how the administration of justice must follow its course and cannot be rough, even in the most obvious of cases. In this sense, it is a valuable lens for the times we are living. I am reading it in French, which is my third language, so I am moving slowly, but steadily. The book will be released in English in November.”


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