Our academic books of 2017

by Prof Gary Warnaby and Prof Ares Kalandides*

The year that just ended was full of new and exciting academic publications, saw the reprint of some old classics, but was also the time for us to simply go through the books that had been piling on our desks for a while. Here are our top 10 reads of 2017: 

Prof Gary Warnaby

“This year, I’ve been really interested in some of the temporal issues related to the use of urban space, so for me the two books published this year that I’ve been going back to again and again are:

Madanipour, A. (2017). Cities in Time: Temporary Urbanism and the Future of the City. (Bloomsbury Publishing, London). An excellent exposition on the nature of time and its implications for the economic and social character of cities.


Schutt, S., Roberts, S., & White, L. (Eds.). (2016). Advertising and Public Memory: Social, Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Ghost Signs. (Routledge, London & New York). This collection of essays (to which Prof. Dominic Medway and I contributed) is an authoritative analysis of those advertising messages from the first half of the Twentieth century that were hand-painted onto the urban built environment, and which now remain in varying stages of preservation or decay  –  as they say, every picture tells a story!

Sudjic, D. (2017). The Language of Cities. (Penguin Books, London):This book provides an accessible and very readable discussion of what actually makes cities cities, encompassing a wide range of issues, from city names, to the built environment, to urban governance and what cities actually mean to people.

Karrholm, M. (2012). Retailising Space: Architecture, Retail and the Territorialisation of Public Space.  (Routledge, London & New York).  Whilst originally published in 2012, I have been very impressed this year with Mattias Karrholm’s book which discusses new types of retail spaces, their architecture, and their impact in terms of territorialising urban space. I’ve been citing this a lot in some of the papers I’ve been working on this year.

Koeck, R. (2013) Cine-Scapes: Cinematic Spaces in Architecture and Cities (Routledge, London & New York). This book explores the relationship between urban space, architecture and the moving image, and focuses on how we visually ‘consume’ urban space, especially as we move through cities.  Given the fact that we humans primarily perceive  our environments via the visual sense, this book has a lot of lessons for how we might interact with our urban environments not just now, but also into the future via technological developments in virtual and augmented reality.”

Prof Ares Kalandides

“I am still trying to make sense of some complex economic issues and brake them down into smaller understandble bits, in an attempt to convey this to my students, many of whom do not have a background at economics. That’s why most of my picks for 2017 are economics books:

Minton, A. (2017). Big Capital. Who is London For(Penguin Books, London): This is a brilliant account of the situation of big (real estate) business in London and how the city has turned into an unaffordable place for some and a site of massive profit accumulation for others. It is a detailed account of the rise of a rentier society and the role of real estate investment in it.

Ryan-Collins, J., Lloyd, T., & Macfarlane, L. (2017). Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing. (Zed Books, London). I found this book extremely useful while trying to make sense of the economics of land and housing. It also a very good companion to Anna Minton’s book above. I always admire authors who manage to present complex issues without using too much jargon.

Pettifor, A. (2017). The Production of Money: How to Break the Power of Bankers. (Verso Books, London & New York). Whilst there are still many aspects of money, our financial and monetary system that I just don’t grasp, this book has been extremely helpful. Ann Pettifort has made it her goal to educate a broad public on the above subjects. If you want to join that educational project, you can also follow her on twitter (a prolific commentator) or look for her online videos and podcasts.

Fischer, L., Hasell, J., Proctor, J. C., Uwakwe, D., Perkins, Z. W., & Watson, C. (Eds.). (2017). Rethinking Economics: An Introduction to Pluralist Economics. (Routledge, London & New York). This has been a constant companion to my “Introduction to schools of economic thought” module. A very good overview of several schools of thought in contemporary economics.

Beckert, S. (2015). Empire of cotton: A global history. (Vintage, New York). This is older but I did not get a chance to read it before. If you want to understand the global reach of the industrial revolution, how it linked capital, labour, slaves, armies and commodites – from the UK, the Americas, Africa, India and China – this is the book for you. Beckert is a brilliant writer and a highly recognized historican, but also has a very strong sense of geography. This is probably my favourite read of the past years and highly recommended as a fundamental contribution to understanding where contemporary capitalist globalization comes from.

*Gary Warnaby and Ares Kalandides are Professors at Manchester Metropolitan University and Senior Fellows of the Institute of Place Management.