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Humanities Reads!

Faculty teaching courses in the humanities, or courses with a central humanities-related component, are invited to consider adopting this year's common humanities text as part of their assigned reading and discussion material.

2020-2021 Selection

This year’s common book for the Humanities Reads! series is Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (Henry Holt and Co., 2018). 

Lanier Ten Arguments book coverThe nominator of this book says: "This is a highly-readable book by long-time Silicon Valley denizen and virtual reality developer Jaron Lanier, who was among the many co-creators of the internet. It may or may not persuade you to actually delete your social media accounts; it will, however, inform you in language anyone can understand about how social media works, how your personal 'data' translates into billions of dollars in revenues for someone else, how algorithms designed to increase those profits have affected individuals’ happiness, boosted and then undermined social movements like Black Lives Matter, decreased empathy and increased polarization in our society, and undermined our access to a shared reality and the ability to draw collective conclusions about truth or falsehood."

The nominator continues: "He explains how these platforms undermine our economic dignity and narrow our economic futures, and argues we draw a hard line of difference between advertising as we historically understand it and the online manipulation which we have accepted being called 'advertising.' Most importantly, he explains how none of these negative features is inherent to the internet or online social communication, but rather to a particular and consciously-chosen business model. He argues for a future in which better, freer social networks support our humanity rather than undermine it. The book is written in a way that respects the reader’s free will and ability to choose, makes its arguments humanely and with detail, and strives to make us more aware of our ability to act as individuals to make change in our own lives and in the world."

More information is available at the author's website.

The Center is in the process of purchasing a limited number of copies of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now to be shared with any member of the Drake community who would like to take part in Humanities Reads! The Center especially encourages requests from faculty who plan to assign the work in their classes in fall 2020 or spring 2021. Please contact the Director by July 15 if you would to be included in the book order. Books should be available by August 1. 

Past Humanities Reads books have included:

  • Cathy O'Neil's Weapons of Math Destruction
  • Tara Westover's Educated
  • Mathew Desmond's Evicted
  • Kiese Laymon's How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America
  • Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams
  • Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks
  • George Saunders's In Persuasion Nation
  • Phoebe Gloeckner's Diary of a Teenage Girl
  • J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace


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