Book/Article Recommendations

If you are anything like me, you will have experiences several books or papers in your life that just come at the right time in your growth to have a rather profound impact. It is because of this impact from reading that I love going into a friend’s home for the first time and exploring their bookshelves to see which ones they hold dear. As such, this page is my attempt at replicating that experience for you but in a digital space (since it may be awkward to let so many people into my house). Please enjoy this listing of some of the notable books or articles that had a lasting effect on me. 


  • Taxing Africa: Coercion, Reform, and Development by Mick More, Wilson Prichard & Odd-Helge Fjeldstad
    • This book is one of the reason I went into public policy because it so plainly lays out how normally dull government topics (like taxes) can have such an immense impact on people. It also gave me another examples of how thinking differently about traditional systems can provide significant opportunities to improve people’s lives. 
  • Nudge by Cass R. Sunstein and Richard H. Thaler
    • Kahneman was correct in his endorsement quote “few books can be said to have changes the world, but Nudge did.” I can’t speak on behalf of the world but the book has certainly shaped a lot about how I see the value of behavioural science. While I recognize the replicability critiques, I still think this book stands to offer so much insight about the value of reintroducing humans and human behaviour into policy. 
  • The Frontlines of Peace: An Insider’s Guide to Changing the World by Séverine Autesserre
    • There are few books written for American audiences that have better encapsulated the major takeaways from my years in African Studies than this book. The central lesson is simple: when funding/designing/implementing projects in a foreign country, ensure power and autonomy is given to local communities. 
  • Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism by Benedict Anderson
    • This is probably the only book on this list that I simultaneously found so significant in shaping how I view the world and one which I also dreading reading. While it is a rather dense read, the density is only justified because of its wonderful exploration of the rise and proliferation of the nation and its impact throughout history. 


  • Ian Hacking’s “Making Up People” (1986)
    • Hacking introduces a concept, coined dynamic nominalism, which claims that “A kind of person [comes] into being at the same time as the kind itself [is] being invented.” It is the creation and proliferation of labels that develop simultaneously with the identity and behaviours that are available. I found this an incredibly insightful argument, especially with the modern love of data and labels. 
  • Terrence Ranger’s “The Invention of Tradition Revisited: The Case of Colonial Africa,” (1993)
    • As Ranger notes in the piece, “inventions of law, ethnicity or religion took place as a result of deeply colonial ideologies.” If you haven’t noticed so far, I believe that few things in our world emerged in neutral spaces and that understanding histories makes us better at knowing how and what to change.