Two surprises in Riga’s bookstores

When I am in Riga, bookstores are the ‘must have a look’ places. Bookstore is like a mirror of society’s mind and life, so it is interesting to see what’s on demand, what’s on offer.

I was positively surprised to see “Bad Samaritans” translated in Latvian. Ha-Joon Chang is one of the most popular critics of globalization and mainstream economic and political thinking, but as we know, public space of information and political/ economic ideas in Latvia for the last few decades has been dominated by (neo)liberal ideas. Thus, this book is a great contribution diversifying public debate in Latvia and challenging the dominant ideas and their supporters. To those who will enjoy Bad Samaritans, I also recommend his newest book – 23 things they dont tell you about capitalism which i bought after Chang’s lecture at LSE last year. One does not have to agree with everything, but will eventually admit that too many things are so wrong.

However, my greatest ‘discovery’ was a book “Rokasgrāmata aizbraucējiem uz Lielbritāniju” (Handbook for immigrants to United Kingdom) whose author, as i understand, has been living/working in UK herself and has written this book in response to a lack of concise information about moving to UK, all the practical and bureaucratic aspects of starting a new life in UK. From one side there is nothing extraordinary; however, if people are starting to write books on how to leave a country, it’s pretty scary and serious. Government may want to start writing a book on something like “100 reasons why Latvians living abroad should return to Latvia”…

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