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Restart Radio: Our 2021 Summer Reading List

Summer reading list

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Before we get into the news and our Summer Reading List, here’s a plea to respond to our listener survey. We last did one of these in 2019 and found it really helpful in improving our work and making sure that our listeners enjoy the content that we produce. Fill it in here!

Right to Repair  – in the UK and abroad

Has the news in the UK surrounding Right to Repair been giving you deja vu? For us, it feels like forever since the UK government first announced these changes and since they were adopted in Europe back in March. The rules that came into effect last week mean that repairing all new white goods, including dishwashers, washing machines, fridges, and TVs, must be better supported by the long-term availability of spare parts. Overall, it is a move forward but some of the media reporting surrounding the regulations was misleading.

In the US, there was also positive news for Right to Repair. President Biden issues an executive order that gives the Federal Trade Commission increased powers to enforce rules helping independent repair compete. We also hear Steve Wozniak – co-founder of Apple – talking about his support for the right to repair and how he would not have gotten to where he is without it.

A selection of our summer reading list

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert – reviewed by James

This is a book about humans trying to fix problems in the environment, and then making them worse, and then trying to fix them again. It’s about how we’re past conversation and preservation and now onto a stage of intervening to try and avert irreversible disasters. And how hard that is.

Undoing Optimization: Civic Action in Smart Cities by Alison Powell – reviewed by Neil

What are smart cities? Who creates them and who are they for? Powell explores these questions and more in Undoing Optimization. Her book delivers a thoughtful and comprehensive critique of the concept of smart cities, while also providing a broader look at the tension between corporate power, state power and citizen power. 

We Are Bellingcat: An Intelligence Agency for the People by Eliot Higgins – reviewed by Janet

We’re here for any book that tells the story of a community of collaborative geeks, who look to solve problems and mysteries together. Bellingcat starts with Higgins at his laptop in Leicester, and tells the story about how he honed his skills together with others around the world, forming teams of “amateur” sleuths who solved the mystery behind the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 in the Ukraine and exposed various war crimes in Syria.

Check out our full reading list for blurbs on the other books on our list:

  • Atlas of AI by Kate Crawford
  • Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake
  • Flash Forward: An Illustrated Guide to Possible (And Not So Possible) Tomorrows by Rose Eveleth
  • Free, Fair, and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons by David Bollier and Silke Helfrich
  • Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World by Jason Hickel
  • Our Biggest Experiment: A History of the Climate Crisis by Alice Bell
  • The Art of Disruption: A Manifesto For Real Change by Magid Magid


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