The first Very Short Introduction book was published by Oxford University Press in 1995, and since then the series has expanded to the point that there are currently over 400 titles, from Classics (book 1) to Corporate Social Responsibility (book 414). The sheer variety of topics is incredible, but it can be a bit daunting when choosing from so many subjects. Help is at hand however, in the form of the VSI Blog Book, a collection of short essays from 30 VSI authors that provides a great little taster of each topic, giving the reader the chance to get a sense of each one and see what looks worth investigating further.
The essays are drawn from the VSI blog (http://oxford.ly/vsiblog) and range from arts and culture to religion, business, philosophy, social science and more, covering topics as diverse as dreaming, globalization, evolution, Renaissance art and zero-hour contracts. Each one is related in some way to the author’s specific VSI book, whether they be material that didn’t make it into the book, general overviews of the subject or even new updates to the original publication. They’re only short, the longest being 4 pages of the typical VSI size, but there’s enough substance to pique the interest and they clearly demonstrate each of the author’s knowledge and understanding of their chosen topics.
Without fail these essays are interesting and absorbing, and for the most part they require very little in the way of prior knowledge or even established interest in the topic. There’s one which looks at the philosopher Derrida and his views on Eurocentrism, and is perhaps a bit jargon-heavy, but there is very little else within any of the writing that is likely to be difficult to understand. Even those whose topics might not normally be of interest will likely prove thought-provoking, and it would surely take a particularly uncurious mind to read through all thirty without wanting to read up further on at least one.
This is essentially an advert for the vast reservoir of knowledge contained in the VSI series, and a sampler for inquisitive minds to browse through and see what sparks a detour into a new area to learn about. Given that it’s also free, either in physical format if you can find one or as an ebook through the usual channels, it’s a brilliant opportunity to expand the mind.