More ebooks for your Copious Free Time! Rutgers is offering free ebooks related to COVID-19 and, unlike some offers, these books are actually tightly related to this topic, not surprising given Rutgers’s strength in medical anthropology.
Melville House also has some cheap ebook options. These include two buck ebooks of their ten top selling novels (they look great but I probably am too much of a nonfiction reader to ever get to them) as well as free download of Utopia of Rules, Culture as Weapon, and Trainwreck: The Women We Love To Hate. To get the discount you have to enter a secret code which is simply the first word of each book’s title (Utopia, Culture, and Trainwreck). Graeber’s book will be especially relevant to anthropologists.
I will not lie, though — today the deeply-discounted time-killer I splurged on was Endless Space II.
I like ebook sales because they give me an opportunity to obsessively comb through publisher’s lists — which is obviously an incredibly healthy and normal thing to do, of course. Today I spent a few minutes looking at the latest from Verso and Haymarket, two very lefty presses. The occasion was their generous and excellent offer of free ebooks during the COVID-19 crisis. Haymarket’s free ebooks include works by Angela Davis, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and my colleague Yari Bonilla. Verso’s “Free Quarantine Books” include Nancy Fraser and what I suspect is a ruthless takedown of Joe Biden from Branco Marcetic. In addition, Verso is having an 80% off sale on its ebooks, so each one is about 2 bucks US. Verso features these sales pretty regularly. I have a bookmark file with new Verso titles that interest me, and then when the sale pops up that’s when I pick them up.
To be honest, I rarely have a chance to read the ebooks I buy — they are sort of like games on Steam: You buy five for twenty bucks and then it turns out you spend hours and hours with one of them. But just perusing these publishers’ lists is good for keeping up your awareness of your intellectual surroundings. And even just being able to browse these books on your computer can help expand your mind and make some new intellectual connections. As someone in an apartment on an island, I ran out of room for physical books long ago, I’ve learned to let go of the idea that I need a large library. But when I do start worrying that the air to book ration in apartment is skewed too high in the air direction, buying ebooks help me cope. They’re the equivalent of a nicotine patch for compulsive bibliophiles. So if you are looking for a fix, check out Verso and Haymarket.
The joke is that we are supposed to have more free time because we are stuck indoors. But in my case — and I’m sure I’m not alone in this — taking my normal load and then adding child care and moving my classes online is not exactly what I’d call creating free time. Just. The. Opposite.
Of course, I’m very fortunate: I’ll still getting paid, and I’m shut in with other people, not unemployed and trapped alone in my studio apartment, or worse. I recognize that. But there is something tantalizing (as in Tantalus) about the current situation: More and more people in higher education and other realms are ungating more and more content during COVID-2019.
Case in point: Project Muse is ungating huge amounts of content. They’ve always been a good organization with good values who publish good stuff, so the list is long. But I’m particularly interested to see that Oklahoma University Press’s Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology series is now open access. Holy cow — that’s a lot of great work. Long-overdue biographies of groundbreaking female anthropologists like Ruth Landes and Cora Du Bois, the new (and only) biography of Franz Boas, the collected essays of Stephen O. Murray, who passed away not too long ago — the list goes on and on.
So if you have all that Copious Free Time that I wish I had, go take a gander at these and all the other great offerings at Project Muse. You’ll see the history of anthropology is far more complicated than just evil dead white men, although to be fair there are a few of those featured in the book as well! It’s a great resource that spans hundreds of years and most of the continents. Go check it out. And… thank you, Project Muse and Oklahoma!