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10 Faculty winter reading recommendations


With the holiday break around the corner and looking ahead to 2019, it’s the perfect time of the year to curl up with a good book and a steaming hot drink. Our professors have provided plenty of book recommendations for you to choose from.

IE Law School faculty members share their winter break reading recommendations, pulling from the worlds of history, fiction and technology, just to name a few. Be it mid-century America, modern day imagination, Renaissance Florence or Classical Athens, our faculty share the books they enjoyed outside the classroom and explain they appealed to them and why they think you, too, may find them well worth reading.


What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, by Michael J. Sandel

Recommended by María del Pilar Galeote Muñoz, Professor of Negotiation and Corporate Law

“In this book, Michael Sandel, one of the best Professors of Philosophy in the world and winner of the 2018 Princess of Asturias Award, shows the relationship between morality and economics. Sandel provokes a debate with the reader about what the proper role of markets is in a democratic society. Is there something in the world impossible to buy? Is there something wrong with this type of world? It is an engaging book not only for the conclusions but also for the methodology used”.


The expulsion of the other: society, perception and communication today, by Byung-Chul Han

Recommended by María del Pilar Galeote Muñoz, Professor of Negotiation and Corporate Law

“Byung-Chul Han, one of the best contemporary philosophers, discusses, in this extraordinary essay, that our times are characterized by excessive communication, digital information, consumption, etc. Consequently, it is impossible to distinguish between the Other and the Self. Han considers that only listening to others and being aware of this process, we can overcome the feeling of disorientation and senselessness. Han’s books always encourage us to think and reflect upon many contemporary dilemmas”.


Here is New York, by E. B. White

Recommended by Joseph Weiler, Professor at NYU School of Law, Co-Director, Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law and Justice

“This book dates back to 1948. It is written by the legendary E. B. White, he of Charlotte’s Web, The Elements of Style, and countless memorable pieces in The New Yorker, for which he worked from its inception and which have been endlessly anthologized.

As you can imagine, the endless stream of visitors to NYU endlessly ask for good guides to the city. I never quite knew how to answer that question until, 17 years after moving here, I discovered this poetic ode to the city. Here is New York is no replacement for Trip Advisor, Michelin’s Green Guide, Lonely Planet and the rest. Nor can it take the place of Time Out or The New Yorker itself for ‘What’s Going On this Week’ in this wonderful city.

It is a small book, but, tellingly, still in print. And the reason is simple: it captures New York as it was when written, but miraculously as in many ways it still is. You can read it on the flight over to New York, though it is also a good read on your flight home – a way of looking down and looking back and putting your experience in some perspective. Since it is so short, really an essay bound between hard covers, you can read it more than once, endlessly in fact. Like a good poem. New Yorkers will always find in it something they did not notice in the previous read. And who is a New Yorker? That is one of the most remarkable things about this remarkable city. You can get off the plane and declare yourself a New Yorker, and? There you are, you are a New Yorker. In a city in which at least two-thirds of its inhabitants are not native, no one will ask you ‘where are you really from?’ (In Florence they will ask you that even if you are from the other side of the Arno…!). Here, then, is New York. Excellent read”.


Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel

Recommended by Joseph Weiler, Professor at NYU School of Law, Co-Director, Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law and Justice

“Some readers will say ‘We don’t need you to recommend two books that have had the rare distinction of each winning the Mann Booker Prize’. I have never encountered a Booker Prize winner (or even nominee) that is not a good read. So, no you don’t need my recommendation. But since I only got to these books (and once you start, forget about breakfast, lunch and dinner) this year, and my recommendations are based on the best I have read in the preceding year, how could I omit them from my list? Historical ‘fiction’ does not get better than this. If you have some time over the Christmas break and want to read serious literature, which is as enjoyable, compelling, page-turning as it is serious, you could do worse. Give yourself a gift of these two novels and wait, as we all are, for the completion and publication of the final volume in the trilogy.

Mantel has been accused of anti-Catholicism – indeed, she has expressed such in interviews and the like. But in the books you would need a magnifying glass, even a microscope, to detect such, unless you think that everything Catholic by definition has to be noble and saintly.

The BBC TV series Wolf Hall of 2015, which incorporates both books, was aired to justified great acclaim. But I would recommend in the strongest terms to watch it after you have read the novels. You will both understand and enjoy the TV series a great deal more this way. Good read, good viewing”.

Read the complete list of book recommendations by Professor Weiler published at EJIL here

Judas, by Amos Oz

Recommended by Marina Aksenova, Professor of International Criminal and Comparative Criminal Law

 “This book explores the figure of Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus. The story unfolds through the eyes of an idealistic student Shmuel who is writing his thesis on the topic. This philosophical novel blends together the sense of Jerusalem in 1959, Shmuel’s personal search for identity and broader questions related to the Jewish view of Jesus. Through the intricate labyrinth of adventures and discoveries, Shmuel gets closer to some profound realizations”.


Be sure to find a book that will take you on an intellectual journey even if the weather is keeping you inside


Leonardo da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson

Recommended by Bart Wauters, Professor of European Legal History and Legal Thought 

“This is the latest book from the author of biographies of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin. As in the case of Steve Jobs, Isaacson focuses on the combination of art and science. The reader not only gets a solid introduction to Leonardo’s paintings, but specifically acquires a full understanding of the importance of Leonardo’s notebooks (a few of which are preserved by the National Library in Madrid), which contain many discoveries that were way ahead of their time. For instance, Leonardo fully understood the workings of the aortic valve, a few hundred years before medical scientists did. Wonder and curiosity was what drove him. In spite of a lack of abundant source materials, the biography gives a remarkable insight into the personality of this true Renaissance man,  who, as it turns out, had a few weak sides too (What a procrastinator! How did he spoil his lovers!), but was in essence at ease with himself. Yes, Leonardo was human! The book will not tell you how to become a genius yourself – luckily, if you ask me – but if you’re just interested in this fascinating person for his own sake, it is definitely worth reading. Moreover, it is beautifully edited (many wonderful illustrations) at an accessible price”.


Antigone, by Sophocles

Recommended by Victor Torre de Silva, Professor of European Union Law

“Ancient Greek tragedies are powerful texts, in which destiny leads and ultimately overcomes the strength of the characters, especially of the protagonist.  In this XXI century, in which freedom is sometimes regarded as absolute, the contrast is striking.  I particularly recommend Sophocles’ tragedies, and among them, for people interested in law and in political theory, Antigone.  In its 1352 lines, civil disobedience is depicted with dramatic colors.    Tyranny, familiar ties, conscience objection, human dignity and patriotism combine in a masterly order to rouse the reader’s passions and reflections.  Sophocles asks about the legitimacy of a legal provision, questioning at the same time the limits of political power.  Just as we do, more than 2.400 years later”.


Becoming, by Michelle Obama

Recommended by Johanna Jacobssson, Professor of International and European law

“I’ve only started to read to read the story of Michelle Obama but I’m already captivated by it. The book gives a close look into the life of the Obama couple before the Presidency. The book focuses on Michelle’s own background, but tells a lot about her husband too. She is full of admiration for Barack but is open about his less commendable sides too. For example, she reveals that Barack Obama was not keen on going to couple’s therapy and often after work opted to go to the gym instead of helping to take care of their small children. However, the main story is that of Michelle’s. She grew up in a modest neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago, but ended up having a successful legal career and becoming an influential First Lady. Through her story, the book also describes the everyday racism and ethnic divisions of the United States”.