Sociology

An expansive and fascinating field, sociology explores how human society develops and functions. Titles in this collection range from cultural studies classics like Orientalism by Edward Said and Gender Trouble by Judith Butler to recent Pulitzer Prize winner Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.

Publication year 2018Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: Mental Health, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Self Help, Inspirational, Psychology, Parenting, Sociology, American Literature

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (2018) is Jordan B. Peterson’s second book. Peterson’s self-help book seeks to provide practical and virtuous rules to live by for a wide audience and general readership. The book streamlines, simplifies, and reimagines some of the more traditionally academic topics of Peterson’s first book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. Each non-fiction work aims to explain human history and human nature according to universal frameworks. 12... Read 12 Rules for Life Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

Published in 2015, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America is a nonfiction investigation into how a new form of virtually cashless poverty emerged in the United States. Authors Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer are both academics with extensive experience researching poverty, but it is only in recent years that they have come across households with almost no cash income at all. There are now 1.5 million families with children in... Read $2.00 a Day Summary


Publication year 2010Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Society: Globalization, Society: Nation, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Politics / Government, Business / Economics, Education, Class, Finance / Money / Wealth, Food, History: World, Immigration / Refugee, Leadership/Organization/Management, Military / War, Poverty, Social Justice, Sociology, Technology

Publication year 2014Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

A Deadly Wandering is a 2014 nonfiction book by Matt Richtel, a journalist at The New York Times. After winning a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for a series of articles detailing the dangers of distracted driving, Richtel expanded his research and reporting into A Deadly Wandering. This nonfiction book combines the story of a 2006 Utah car accident—in which Mormon teenager Reggie Shaw killed two scientists, James Furfaro and Keith O’Dell, while texting and driving—and... Read A Deadly Wandering Summary


Publication year 2012Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Disability, Society: Nation, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags History: U.S., Disability, Social Justice, Politics / Government, Sociology

Publication year 1997Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags Sociology, Poverty

This book is a memoir written by a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, Rick Bragg, who works for the New York Times. It describes the author’s childhood in rural Alabama,   the middle child of three brothers raised by an almost-always single mother in conditions of extreme poverty. His father was a veteran of the Korean War and an alcoholic, who abandoned his family for long periods of time.The book is dedicated “To my Momma and my brothers.” The author grows... Read All Over but the Shoutin' Summary


Publication year 1982Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Art, Society: Community, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Philosophy, History: World, Sociology, Politics / Government, Modernism

Publication year 2011Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, originally published in 2011, is a work of nonfiction that explores technology’s effect on how humans interact with one another. The book is split into two halves: the first deals with human interactions with sociable robots and the second with the networked connections of social media and virtual worlds.In the 1970s, Turkle meets ELIZA, a computer program that “engaged in... Read Alone Together Summary


Publication year 1993Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags History: U.S., Sociology, Immigration / Refugee

Always Running is the autobiography of Luis J. Rodriguez, a Mexican-American former gang member who grew up in dangerous East Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s. Luis’ family moved to Los Angeles from Mexico after Luis’ father was accused of theft, and Luis spends his early years in Watts, a particularly crime-ridden LA neighborhood. Luis’ father struggles to find work, and the family struggles to find adequate shelter and food. After they are evicted... Read Always Running Summary


Publication year 1985Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Education, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Sociology, Philosophy, Technology, Information Age, Education

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business is a nonfiction book by Neil Postman, published in 1985. Postman was a professor of education and communication at New York University with a special interest in the role of technology and media in society. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York in Fredonia and a master’s degree and doctorate from the Teachers College of Columbia University. In... Read Amusing Ourselves to Death Summary


Publication year 1974Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Society: Class, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Philosophy, Politics / Government, Sociology, History: World

Publication year 1798Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: EconomicsTags Business / Economics, Philosophy, Sociology, Age of Enlightenment, Poverty, Food, Science / Nature, Class, History: European

An Essay on the Principle of Population by Thomas Malthus was first published anonymously in 1798. Its core argument, that human population will inevitably outgrow its capacity to produce food, widely influenced the field of early 19th century economics and social science. Immediately after its first printing, Malthus’s essay garnered significant attention from his contemporaries, and he soon felt the need to reveal his identity. Although it was highly controversial, An Essay on the Principle... Read An Essay on the Principle of Population Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Sociology

Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster is a 2009 non-fiction book that examines the behavior of people amid and after disasters as well as the institutional failure that can worsen disasters. Solnit explores five major disasters and detours to discuss several others while providing commentary on contemporary Western culture, anarchism, and the media’s portrayal of disaster victims.Solnit and the many sociologists she cites present an optimistic view... Read A Paradise Built in Hell Summary


Publication year 2014Genre Book, NonfictionTags Chinese Literature, Asian Literature, Sociology

A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity is a nonfiction book published in 2014 by the husband-and-wife team of Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book speaks to altruism and how people can do something to promote more opportunities for others around the world. The authors declare, “We wrote this book mostly to encourage others—rich and poor alike—to join in this push to improve the world” (16). They promote three ways of doing so:... Read A Path Appears Summary


Publication year 2003Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Class, Society: Community, Society: Globalization, Society: Economics, Society: Education, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Politics / Government, Race / Racism, Social Justice, History: U.S., Sociology

Publication year 2004Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

This study guide refers to the 2004 House of Anansi edition of Ronald Wright’s A Short History of Progress. The book is a printed version of five Massey Lectures that Wright delivered in Canada in 2004. Wright is a Canadian author of historical fiction and non-fiction with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and linguistics. This lecture series uses Wright’s unique set of skills as a storyteller and student of history to provide a sweeping and... Read A Short History of Progress Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & PrideTags Self Help, Psychology, Relationships, Inspirational, Sociology, Leadership/Organization/Management

Publication year 2018Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Society: Class, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Equality, Identity: RaceTags Technology, Politics / Government, Sociology, Science / Nature, Social Justice, Race / Racism, Poverty, Class, History: U.S.

Publication year 2004Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

Daniel H. Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, released in 2005, considers and challenges society’s history of valuing left-brained attributes over creative and empathic right-brained thinkers. Pink, an author of several books on business and human behavior, argues that the age of left-brain supremacy is over, making way for whole-minded thinkers who will define and thrive within the coming Conceptual Age. Pink offers six essential whole-minded aptitudes that are key... Read A Whole New Mind Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Sociology

Friar Gregory Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization known for being the largest gang intervention and re-entry program in the world. Boyle is also a Jesuit priest and the author of the bestselling Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, a memoir and religious text presenting his work with Homeboy Industries as a set of parables. Boyle received much acclaim for this first work and followed it... Read Barking to the Choir Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Language, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Society: CommunityTags Sociology

Publication year 2012Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology, Poverty

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (2012) is a nonfiction book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Katherine Boo. The book follows residents of a Mumbai slum called Annawadi. Boo, an American investigative journalist, was inspired to write the book by frequent visits to Mumbai with her husband, who is from the area. She spent several years among Annawadi’s residents, from 2007 to 2011, and the book recounts their struggles and... Read Behind the Beautiful Forevers Summary


Publication year 1976Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Life/Time: The Future, Society: GlobalizationTags Anthropology, Arts / Culture, Sociology

Publication year 2019Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Equality, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Psychology, Race / Racism, Sociology, Social Justice

Publication year 1990Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Gender, Identity: Race, Relationships: Mothers, Society: CommunityTags Gender / Feminism, Race / Racism, Politics / Government, Social Justice, Sociology, Philosophy, Women's Studies (Nonfiction), African American Literature

Publication year 1961Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Identity: Race, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags History: U.S., Race / Racism, Journalism, Sociology

Black Like Me is a sociological memoir written by John Howard Griffin in 1960. It takes place in 1959 in the deep South of the United States during the end of the segregation era. Griffin, a white man, assumes the appearance and life of a Black man and records his experiences in an attempt to create understanding and bridge gaps between Black and white Americans. Black Like Me was awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for... Read Black Like Me Summary


Publication year 1952Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: RaceTags Sociology, Existentialism, Race / Racism, Afro-Caribbean Literature, Colonialism / Postcolonialism

Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks is a psychological study of colonialism. According to Fanon, the encounter between white European colonizers and black slaves and their descendants creates a unique social and psychological situation with a characteristic set of psychopathologies. Black Skin, White Masks analyzes these psychopathologies, traces their roots in the colonial encounter, and suggests how healing might become possible.Fanon works within a broadly existentialist and phenomenological framework, his project is psychoanalytic, and he... Read Black Skin, White Masks Summary


Publication year 2013Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Community, Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Equality, Identity: GenderTags Psychology, Race / Racism, Science / Nature, Social Justice, Sociology

Publication year 2016Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America, Patrick Phillips’ first nonfictional book, is an expertly crafted narrative of the horrific racial violence that took place during the 20th century in Forsyth County, Georgia. Published in 2016, the book quickly gained critical acclaim from The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and the Smithsonian. The skillfully researched text includes primary documents from turn of the century Forsyth, in addition to descriptions based on recent... Read Blood at the Root Summary


Publication year 2000Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Sociology, Politics / Government

In Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Robert D. Putnam chronicles the decline of civic engagement and social connectedness in the late 20th-century United States and highlights the importance of renewing these forms of social capital for the sake of individual, societal, and democratic health. Putnam, a political science professor and former dean, has the expertise to contribute this work to the academic literature in social science. Originally published in 2000, the... Read Bowling Alone Summary


Publication year 2020Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Masculinity, Identity: Sexuality, Identity: GenderTags Parenting, Gender / Feminism, Love / Sexuality, Sociology, Psychology

Publication year 2018Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Politics & Government, Society: NationTags History: U.S., Politics / Government, Race / Racism, Sociology, Military / War, Crime / Legal

Publication year 1942Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Business / Economics, Sociology, Politics / Government, Philosophy

Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy is a work of economics and political theory by Austrian born economist Joseph A. Schumpeter, originally published in 1942. Schumpeter argues that capitalism, where private, for-profit ownership controls a nation’s industry, will be eventually replaced by socialism, an economic system based on the public, state ownership of industry. However, he disagrees with German philosopher Karl Marx. Unlike Marx, Schumpeter does not believe the shift to socialism will come about due to... Read Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Sociology, Health / Medicine, Politics / Government, Social Justice

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs is a 2015 work of investigative nonfiction by British-Swiss author Johann Hari. Hari explores the so-called international war on drugs by looking deeply into its historical roots, its legal and social implications, and the possibility for reform. He examines addiction and the consequences of past and present drug laws across nine continents and 30,000 miles. A major focus is the criminalization and... Read Chasing the Scream Summary


Publication year 2006Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Food, Sociology

Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want To Know About Fast Food, co-written by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson, aims to show young readers “the ripple effect near and far” of the fast food industry (199). Schlosser and Wilson go on to show that fast food can affect consumers on the immediate level of their own bodies and on the less obvious level of destroying indigenous food cultures.In the Introduction, Schlosser and Wilson describe the... Read Chew On This Summary


Publication year 2011Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Society: Colonialism, Society: Globalization, Society: Nation, Society: Immigration, Society: Politics & Government, Society: WarTags History: World, Politics / Government, Sociology, Philosophy

Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: Colonialism, Society: Class, Life/Time: The Future, Life/Time: The Past, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Social Justice, Anthropology, Class, Depression / Suicide, Finance / Money / Wealth, Politics / Government, Love / Sexuality, Race / Racism, Sociology, Religion / Spirituality

Cloud Atlas is a 2004 novel by British author David Mitchell. The sprawling narrative is composed of a series of nested stories, spanning centuries into the past and the future. In addition to winning numerous literary and science fiction awards, the novel was adapted into a 2012 film of the same name. This guide uses the 2014 Sceptre edition of Cloud Atlas.Content Warning: The novel and this guide depict slavery and discuss racism, death by... Read Cloud Atlas Summary


Publication year 1999Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Society: ClassTags Sociology, Race / Racism, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Poverty

Publication year 1998Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Life/Time: The Past, Emotions/Behavior: GriefTags Sociology, Action / Adventure, History: U.S., American Civil War

Confederates in the Attic is a non-fiction book written by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz. The book is a mixture of ethnography—the study of a specific group of people in a specific place—and travel writing, where Horwitz attempts to dive deeply into his childhood fascination for the American Civil War by traveling through the deep South, visiting Confederate battlefields, museums, and monuments, and interviewing the locals that he comes into contact with about their relationship to... Read Confederates In The Attic Summary


Publication year 2011Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Society: CommunityTags History: World, Business / Economics, Finance / Money / Wealth, Anthropology, Sociology

Publication year 2010Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: GenderTags Sociology, Gender / Feminism, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, also known as Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences, is a 2010 work of feminist nonfiction by British psychologist and philosopher Dr. Cordelia Fine. Through an intensive but accessible review of neurological and sociological studies, the book debunks the idea that men and women have different brains. Nominated for numerous awards upon its publication, it went on to become a bestseller... Read Delusions of Gender Summary


Publication year 1975Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: Politics & Government, Society: ClassTags Philosophy, Incarceration, History: World, Sociology, Psychology, French Literature

Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault is a socio-political study of how power manifests in the Western penal system throughout history. Considered to be Foucault’s masterpiece, Discipline and Punish traces the history of how punishment and control were applied in Western society and how penal systems evolved to match changes in social sensibilities. Michel Foucault was a French historical philosopher and literary critic in the 20th century. Foucault’s work has... Read Discipline And Punish Summary


Publication year 1755Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Philosophy, Politics / Government, Sociology, Age of Enlightenment

“Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men,” often known as the “Discourse on Inequality” or the “Second Discourse,” is an essay by the Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau published in 1765. This summary is based on The First and Second Discourses, edited and translated by Roger D. Masters and Judith R. Masters, and published by St. Martin’s Press in 1964.SummaryRousseau wrote the essay in response to a prize announced by the Academy of... Read Discourse on the Origin of Inequality Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: FameTags Sociology

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle is a non-fiction book written by Chris Hedges, published in 2009. This work of cultural criticism focuses on the effects of mass media and popular culture on American society, politics, and economics. Since its publication, Empire of Illusion has been marketed as a work which predicted the forces that ultimately gave rise to the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Author Chris Hedges... Read Empire Of Illusion Summary


Publication year 2023Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Life/Time: The Future, Life/Time: The Past, Relationships: Family, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags History: European, Politics / Government, Sociology

Publication year 2018Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Society: Class, Society: Education, Society: Globalization, Society: Nation, Society: Politics & Government, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Philosophy, Science / Nature, Psychology, Sociology, Politics / Government, Health / Medicine, Agriculture, Business / Economics, Class, Climate Change, Social Justice

Publication year 2016Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Sociology, Social Justice, Poverty

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City was published in 2016 and won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. It was written by Matthew Desmond, a tenured sociology professor at Princeton University. After the prologue “Cold City,” the book has three sections with eight chapters each: “Rent,” “Out,” and “After.” These are followed by the Epilogue, “Home and Hope,” and the final section, “About This Project.”As an undergraduate at Arizona State University, Desmond... Read Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Summary


Publication year 2014Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

William Deresiewicz’s 2014 nonfiction book Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life examines elite education in America in the 21st century and finds it sorely lacking. By “elite education,” Deresiewicz is referring to the Ivy League schools and a handful of top-tier universities just below the Ivy League. Having spent over two decades in the Ivies as both a student and professor, Deresiewicz speaks from his own... Read Excellent Sheep Summary


Publication year 1992Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Equality, Society: Nation, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Race / Racism, History: U.S., Sociology, Social Justice, Politics / Government

Publication year 2018Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Globalization, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Sociology, Science / Nature

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—And Why Things Are Better Than You Think, written by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Rönnlund, was published by Flatiron Books in 2018. This book examines how people across cultures view the world through a negative lens, which leads them to believe conditions everywhere are declining. Doctor and global health expert Hans Rosling offers research and anecdotes from his medical experience and his lectures to unpack... Read Factfulness Summary


Publication year 1914Genre Poem, FictionTags Lyric Poem, Sociology, Arts / Culture, American Literature, Realism, Food

Publication year 2001Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Food, Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Food, Sociology, Health / Medicine, Agriculture, Business / Economics, Journalism, Politics / Government, Social Justice

IntroductionFast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal is a 2001 nonfiction book by Eric Schlosser that investigates the business practices of the American fast food industry and the associated agricultural industries that supply it. Following the precedent of Upton Sinclair’s famous 1906 work The Jungle, Schlosser provides readers with a glimpse into the questionable ethics of these large food corporations. Schlosser likewise provides brief historical accounts of fast food’s origins and traces... Read Fast Food Nation Summary


Publication year 2012Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

Fire in the Ashes is writer Jonathan Kozol’s account of spending twenty-five years chronicling the lives of poor children in New York City. He begins with an account of the Martinique, a decrepit homeless shelter in midtown Manhattan that was closed in the late 1980s. It housed thousands of homeless people, mainly women and children, in criminally-decrepit conditions and a state of lawlessness that forever marked the children who lived there.In subsequent chapters, Kozol explains... Read Fire in the Ashes Summary


Publication year 2005Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Society: Class, Society: EconomicsTags Business / Economics, Sociology

Rarely does a book about economics attract a large audience, but Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything sold 4 million copies after its 2005 debut. The book, by University of Chicago professor Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner, explains how incentives—the reasons why people do things—can cause unusual and unexpected effects in many areas of life.Praised and reviled for its outside-the-box approach—the work was condemned for suggesting that liberalized abortion laws... Read Freakonomics Summary


Publication year 2013Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Immigration, Natural World: Food, Society: Class, Society: Community, Society: Globalization, Society: Economics, Society: Education, Society: Politics & Government, Society: Nation, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Anthropology, Social Justice, Sociology, Health / Medicine

Publication year 1990Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Teams, Society: Community, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: FathersTags Sports, Creative Nonfiction, Race / Racism, Sociology

Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream is a 1990 nonfiction book by H. G. Bissinger that explores the American phenomenon of high school football in the small Texan town of Odessa. Friday Night Lights is a New York Times bestseller and inspired a television show and film of the same name. Bissinger, who left his job as a journalist and editor to write the book, moved his family to Odessa for... Read Friday Night Lights Summary


Publication year 1989Genre Book, NonfictionTags Gender / Feminism, Sociology, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Published in 1990, Judith Butler's Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity is a seminal work in feminism and a foundational work in queer theory. This study guide is based on the 2006 Routledge edition of Butler’s text. Butler's primary aims in the work are to make a case for rejecting an essential female identity as the basis for feminist practice and to come up with an account of gender formation without recourse to... Read Gender Trouble Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Religion / Spirituality, Philosophy, Sociology

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007) is a polemical text by English writer Christopher Hitchens. The author argues that religion is a cultural construct that represses people more than it liberates them. He examines religion’s role in sexuality, science, and human dignity and posits that organized religion rarely (if ever) benefits humanity at large. Hitchens was a noted columnist and contributing editor to Vanity Fair magazine.Its themes include mass delusions, the misogyny... Read God Is Not Great Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Sociology, Poverty

J.D. Vance’s memoir, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, chronicles his Appalachian roots and his upbringing in a poor, Anglo, working-class culture. As Vance tells the story of his journey from broken Ohio homes to the Marine Corps, Ohio State University, and Yale Law School, he also documents the numerous factors that comprise white, working-class Appalachians’ descent into poverty, addiction, and despair, leaving them ostracized and, often, in danger.Vance was... Read Hillbilly Elegy Summary


Publication year 2008Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Relationships: MarriageTags Sociology, History: Middle Eastern, History: U.S.

How Does It Feel to Be A Problem: Being Young and Arab in America (2008) is a nonfiction text by Brooklyn College English professor and Arab-American Moustafa Bayoumi. The title comes from W.E.B. Du Bois’s 1903 text, The Souls of Black Folk, wherein he directed this question toward the African-American experience. Following the stories of seven young ArabAmericans living in Brooklyn, and including their struggles after the 9/11 attacks, Bayoumi’s book suggests that present-day ArabAmericans absorb the... Read How Does It Feel to Be A Problem Summary


Publication year 1890Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Immigration, Society: Class, Society: CommunityTags Journalism, History: U.S., Sociology, Poverty, Addiction / Substance Abuse, Depression / Suicide, Race / Racism, Urban Development

Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives (1890) is a photojournalistic account of New York City’s working class of the late 19th century and the tenements that housed them. Riis exposes the appalling and often inhumane conditions in and around the tenements. He attributes New York City’s squalor and degradation to sheer greed on the part of landlords who prioritize maximum profits over basic decency. More importantly, he documents these conditions with more than 40... Read How the Other Half Lives Summary


Publication year 2023Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Identity: Mental Health, Society: CommunityTags Psychology, Self Help, Relationships, Sociology, Leadership/Organization/Management, Philosophy

Publication year 1987Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Identity: Language, Identity: Race, Identity: GenderTags Sociology, Latin American Literature

Publication year 2019Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Community, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags History: World, Psychology, Philosophy, Politics / Government, Sociology, Anthropology, Dutch Literature

Publication year 1979Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Art, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: BeautyTags Magical Realism, Post Modernism, Italian Literature, Science / Nature, Arts / Culture, Politics / Government, Sociology

If on a winter’s night a traveler is a 1979 postmodernist novel by Italo Calvino. The dual narrative is composed of two parallel strands: numbered chapters in which the narrator directly describes to the audience the process of reading the book, and titled chapters constructed from hypothetical first chapters of various books that the audience is reading. The innovative novel has been praised by critics and hailed as highly influential.This guide uses the 1998 Vintage... Read If on a Winter's Night a Traveler Summary


Publication year 1982Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Society: Community, Identity: Femininity, Identity: MasculinityTags Psychology, Gender / Feminism, Philosophy, Women's Studies (Nonfiction), Sociology

Publication year 2019Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Life/Time: The Past, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Identity: Gender, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: EqualityTags Gender / Feminism, Science / Nature, Social Justice, Finance / Money / Wealth, Sociology, Business / Economics, Technology, Health / Medicine, Politics / Government, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Publication year 2008Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Sociology

The essay “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” was written by Nicholas Carr. It was originally published in The Atlantic’s July/August 2008 issue. The essay stirred much debate, and in 2010, Carr published an extended version of the essay in book form, entitled The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. The essay begins and ends with an allusion to Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the initial allusion, Carr summarizes... Read Is Google Making Us Stupid? Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America, written by Helen Thorpe, is detailed account of the lives of four Mexico-born girls as they come of age in Denver, Colorado. Thorpe, an Irish-American journalist, published the nonfiction novel in 2009. Two of the girls, Clara and Elissa, are here legally, while the other two, Marisela and Yadira, are without documents. While the girls are similar in birth and... Read Just Like Us Summary


Publication year 1963Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Identity: RaceTags Sociology, African American Literature

This guide is based on the revised version of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail," published as the fifth essay in Why We Can't Wait (1964).King's letter is a response to another open letter, "A Call for Unity," published in The Birmingham News and collectively authored by eight Alabama clergymen who argued that the protests were not an appropriate response to conditions in Birmingham.King opens the letter by explaining that he is responding... Read Letter From Birmingham Jail Summary


Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: The Past, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: RegretTags Romance, Drama / Tragedy, Sociology, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 2018Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: CommunityTags Self Help, Psychology, Mental Illness, Health / Medicine, Sociology, Philosophy, Depression / Suicide

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Publication year 2019Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Society: Class, Identity: Femininity, Identity: Mental Health, Relationships: MothersTags Sociology, Poverty

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive is Stephanie Land’s first book. Land is a former professional house cleaner whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. Her writing explores issues related to systemic poverty, the hardships and stigmas associated with social services, surviving in the gig economy, and the challenges of motherhood. Maid was originally inspired by a Vox article she wrote about... Read Maid Summary


Publication year 1993Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Class, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Health / Medicine, Sociology, Race / Racism

Publication year 1999Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Psychology, Philosophy, Sociology, History: World

Publication year 2014Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Identity: GenderTags Gender / Feminism, Sociology, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Men Explain Things to Me is Rebecca Solnit’s 19th book. First published in 2014, it is comprised of a collection of essays primarily concerned with gender politics. The first essay explores men silencing women. It begins with Solnit recounting a conversation with “Mr. Very Important” in which he asks her about her writing, only to talk over her and lecture her about a book that, it turns out, she actually wrote. She uses this to... Read Men Explain Things To Me Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Sociology

Methland: The Death and Life of a Small American Town is a nonfiction book published in 2009 by American journalist Nick Reding. Focusing on the small town of Oelwein, Iowa, Reding traces the beginnings of America’s meth epidemic to its current prevalence in the rural Midwest. Methland is a blend of sociology, economics, memoir, and history that provides a perspective that is ultimately hopeful about America’s ability to solve its meth problem, even if the... Read Methland Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology, Humor

Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, published in 2015, is a nonfiction work that combines statistics, interviews, and comedy to explore the current landscape of dating in the modern age. Ansari is an actor and comedian, as well as a writer. He got his start on television in the role of Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation, which ran on NBC. He starred in Human Giant and went on to perform in several movies. His first comedy... Read Modern Romance Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology, Black Lives Matter, Race / Racism

More Than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City is a 2009 nonfiction book by William Julius Wilson, a Harvard University professor of sociology. In his book, Wilson examines the structural and, more controversially, the cultural contributors to the poverty, high incarceration rate, and social problems faced by inner-city African American males today. Wilson’s central contention is that African Americans have suffered disproportionately from the impacts of nonracial political and global economic... Read More Than Just Race Summary


Publication year 1971Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Life/Time: Aging, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Natural World: Place, Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Relationships: Mothers, Natural World: Animals, Relationships: Family, Life/Time: The Past, Life/Time: The Future, Society: Education, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: HopeTags Fantasy, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Action / Adventure, Animals, Technology, Grief / Death, Agriculture, Parenting, Science / Nature, Philosophy, Sociology

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is a children’s science fiction novel written in 1971 by Robert C. O’Brien. It tells the story of a field mouse whose son becomes ill as moving day approaches, so she enlists the help of a group of highly intelligent experimental rats for help. Robert C. O’Brien was inspired to write the Rats of NIMH after a visit to the National Institute of Mental Health’s experimental rat compound... Read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH Summary


Publication year 2006Genre Book, NonfictionTags Crime / Legal, Sociology

Murder in Amsterdam: Liberal Europe, Islam, and the Limits of Tolerance is a 2006 nonfiction book written by Dutch professor and social scientist Ian Buruma. The book investigates both the murder of Theo van Gogh, a prominent Dutch filmmaker, social critic, and opponent of political Islam in Europe. Additionally, it explores feelings of historical guilt, liberal mores, and the changing social fabric that has created tension between the native Dutch and the large, mostly Muslim... Read Murder in Amsterdam Summary


Publication year 1999Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags Sociology, Journalism

Newjack is a nonfiction book written by Ted Conover. Conover, a journalist, spends a year as a correction officer in Sing Sing Prison and keeps a detailed record of events in a spiral notebook. The story takes place largely at Sing Sing, a historic prison located in Ossining, New York. Sing Sing is a palimpsest of structures dating back to the 1800s: spread across fifty-five acres, the prison includes massive cell blocks, a solitary-housing unit... Read Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing Summary


Publication year 2001Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Class, Society: Economics, Society: Globalization, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Sociology, Poverty, Social Justice, Politics / Government

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America is a 2001 nonfiction book written by Barbara Ehrenreich. This book is considered a classic of investigative journalism and was ranked #13 in The Guardian’s list of the 100 best books of the 21st century. Ehrenreich takes a series of low-paying, entry-level jobs in three cities (Key West, Florida; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minnesota) to answer the question of whether one can survive on these wages and... Read Nickel and Dimed Summary


Publication year 1994Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: Politics & Government, Identity: Femininity, Identity: Gender, Relationships: Marriage, Society: CommunityTags Religion / Spirituality, Gender / Feminism, Politics / Government, Sociology

Publication year 2009Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process is an autobiography published in 2009. Author Colin Beavan, tired of being a liberal who only lectures his wife about not wearing fur, decides to dedicate himself, his wife Michelle, and their toddler Isabella to a year of creating no impact on the environment. His... Read No Impact Man Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Society: EconomicsTags Psychology, Science / Nature, Business / Economics, Sociology

Publication year 2017Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Class, Society: Community, Society: GlobalizationTags Travel Literature, Sociology, Poverty, Class, American Literature

Publication year 1996Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Sociology

No Matter How Loud I Shout is a work of nonfiction written by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes and published in 1996. This work comprises the author’s ethnographical observations and participations in the Los Angeles juvenile justice system for the year of 1994. Humes asserts that the names of juveniles have been changed in accordance with state laws regarding confidentiality; however, everything else is true, and reported in the allegedly unbiased style of 1990s investigative journalism... Read No Matter How Loud I Shout Summary


Publication year 1955Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & AngerTags Sociology, Existentialism, Black Arts Movement, Black Lives Matter

Notes of a Native Son is a collection of nonfiction essays by James Baldwin. Baldwin originally published the essays individually in various literary and cultural commentary magazines between 1948 and 1955. The Beacon Press first republished the essays as Notes of a Native Son in 1955. This study guide refers to the 2012 Beacon Press edition of Notes of a Native Son. Citations to page numbers, however, come from the volume The Price of the... Read Notes of a Native Son Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Book, NonfictionTags Asian Literature, Sociology, Korean Literature, Journalism, Immigration / Refugee

Barbara Demick’s 2010 nonfiction book, Nothing to Envy, is based on interviews with North Korean defectors from the city of Chongjin, six of whom are profiled in the book. It relays the history of modern Korea, from the end of Japanese occupation after WWII, to the division of Korea into two by the United States, to the economic rise and fall of the North Korean state in the late 20th century. There is a particular... Read Nothing to Envy Summary


Publication year 1978Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Nurture v. NatureTags Science / Nature, Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy

Publication year 1995Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: War, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Identity: Masculinity, Identity: Mental Health, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Society: CommunityTags Psychology, Military / War, Sociology, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 1977Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Art, Society: Colonialism, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Society: Economics, Society: Nation, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Arts / Culture, Philosophy, History: World, Business / Economics, Class, Finance / Money / Wealth, Sociology

On Photography is a 1977 collection of seven essays by American scholar, activist, and philosopher Susan Sontag. The essays were published in the New York Review of Books from 1973 to 1977 before publication in a single volume. Sontag explores the history of photography and its relationship to reality, the fine arts, and sociopolitical power structures. Individual essays explore these various relationships between photography and the world through a different lens before the culminating exploration... Read On Photography Summary


Publication year 1978Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Society: ColonialismTags Sociology, History: Middle Eastern, Colonialism / Postcolonialism

Edward W. Said’s Orientalism introduces the concept of Orientalism, a force that has shaped Western (Occidental) academic scholarship, cultural imagination and production, and public policy concerning the space known as the Orient. The Orient consists of modern geographic territories known as the Middle East and Asia, commonly referred to as the Near East and Far East, respectively. Historically, the Orient has been situated as the opposite of the West, which is comprised of European powers... Read Orientalism Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Teams, Society: Immigration, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Society: Community, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Sports, Sociology, Inspirational

Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference (2007) is the second book by former New York Times journalist Warren St. John. It follows one season with the Fugees, a soccer team for refugee boys in Clarkston, Georgia. Weaving personal stories with local and international histories, St. John demonstrates The Value of Organized Sports for Young People and the systemic injustices preventing refugees from equal participation in... Read Outcasts United Summary


Publication year 2003Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Society: Community, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: EqualityTags Diversity, Sociology

“People Like Us” was published in the September 2003 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. Using a series of examples to compare different areas of the United States, author and political commentator David Brooks argues that although America prides itself on being a diverse nation, its population actively self-segregates along multiple demographic lines.The essay begins by painting a picture of an unlikely community where “a black Pentecostal minister lives next to a white anti-globalization activist, who... Read People Like Us Summary


Publication year 2023Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: CommunityTags Poverty, History: U.S., Sociology, Social Justice

Publication year 2012Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Relationships: Teams, Self Discovery, Society: Community, Society: Education, Values/Ideas: Win & LoseTags Self Help, Psychology, Sociology, Education, Leadership/Organization/Management, Parenting

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is a nonfiction book by Susan Cain, published in 2012. It is considered part of the psychology and self-help genres. The book made several bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and National Public Radio. It also was voted the best nonfiction book of 2012 by the Goodreads Choice Awards and has been translated... Read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking Summary


Publication year 1986Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Politics & Government, Society: Community, Society: Immigration, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Race / Racism, History: U.S., Sociology, Politics / Government, Social Justice

Publication year 2003Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Education, Identity: RaceTags Race / Racism, Social Justice, Sociology, Politics / Government, History: U.S.

Publication year 2003Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

Random Family was published in 2003 and is the product of a decade of research and interviews by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. It mainly focuses on two Puerto Rican teenagers, Coco Rodriguez and Jessica Martinez, who are fifteen and sixteen, respectively, when the narrative begins.Jessica is the daughter of Lourdes, and when we are first introduced to her, she is a sixteen-year-old girl who lives on Tremont Avenue, a particularly desolate area in the Bronx. Simultaneously... Read Random Family Summary


Publication year 2003Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Sociology

Regarding the Pain of Others is a book-length essay by Susan Sontag published in 2003. Sontag initially addresses a question posed to writer and anti-war activist Virginia Woolf: “How in your opinion are we to prevent war?” but then, deducing that war is perennial, Sontag uses the remainder of her book to examine the relation between photography and feelings and ideas about war. She insists on discussing specific wars and specific photographers because each work... Read Regarding the Pain of Others Summary


Publication year 2014Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Identity: Disability, Identity: Race, Society: CommunityTags Anthropology, Race / Racism, Sociology, History: U.S.

Publication year 2008Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Community, Society: Globalization, Society: ClassTags Addiction / Substance Abuse, Journalism, Sociology, History: U.S., Information Age

Publication year 2023Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Society: Class, Society: Community, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: TeamsTags Health / Medicine, Sociology, Poverty, Class, Social Justice, Politics / Government

Publication year 1969Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Society: Community, Society: Class, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Social Justice, Politics / Government, Psychology, Sociology

Publication year 1974Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft is an academic work focusing on the Salem witch trials. First published by Harvard University Press in 1974, the book offers an alternative explanation for the phenomenon of witch hysteria and its special relevance to the town of Salem, Massachusetts. The book was well-received by critics for its unique approach to this familiar material. It falls into the nonfiction categories of popular culture, social sciences, and U.S. history... Read Salem Possessed Summary


Publication year 2013Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Society: Class, Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Win & LoseTags Psychology, Business / Economics, Science / Nature, Sociology, Self Help, Politics / Government, Philosophy

Publication year 1982Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Identity: Race, Society: WarTags Historical Fiction, Holocaust, WWII / World War II, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Race / Racism, History: World, Immigration / Refugee, Incarceration, Military / War, Politics / Government, Social Justice, Sociology, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Schindler’s List (originally titled Schindler’s Ark) is a 1982 historical novel by Australian author Thomas Keneally. It tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a member of the Nazi party who used his position as a German industrialist to save more than 1,200 people’s lives during the war. In protecting as many people as he could from the genocidal Nazi regime, Schindler risked being sent to a concentration camp himself. Keneally wrote the novel with the... Read Schindler's List Summary


Publication year 1999Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Safety & DangerTags Sociology

Sidewalk tells the true story of sociologist Mitchell Duneier’s years-long effort to understand the informal sidewalk economy of 1990s Greenwich Village, in New York City. The story begins when Duneier meets Hakim Hasan, who is a vendor of books on Sixth Avenue, one of the commercial hubs of the Village and the main focus of this book. Through Hakim, Duneier becomes acquainted with several of the lower-income book and magazine vendors, scavengers, and panhandlers that... Read Sidewalk Summary


Publication year 2006Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Natural World: Nurture v. Nature, Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Psychology, Self Help, Science / Nature, Sociology, Relationships

Publication year 1991Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Education, Values/Ideas: Fate, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: Literature, Life/Time: The Past, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Philosophy, Scandinavian Literature, Magical Realism, Science / Nature, Sociology, Religion / Spirituality

Sophie's World is a young adult book by Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder. The book follows main character Sophie, a young girl who is fourteen years old and living with her parents in Norway. Sophie's life changes dramatically when she receives a series of strange postcards, which ask her large, existential questions about the world around her. Each day, Sophie receives a postcard, and in the evenings she receives a package from a man named Alberto... Read Sophie's World Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Psychology, Sociology, Journalism, Technology

Publication year 2017Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Society: Class, Society: Immigration, Society: EconomicsTags History: U.S., Class, Sociology, Race / Racism

Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation is a 2017 non-fiction collection of 36 essays, poems, and short stories edited by former Granta editor John Freeman and including contributions by Rebecca Solnit, Sandra Cisneros, Edwidge Danticat, Julia Alvarez, Joyce Carol Oates, Ann Patchett, Annie Dillard, Roxane Gay, and more. The text crosses disciplinary boundaries, covering sociology, history, racial and ethnic studies, and gender studies.The personal essays, stories, and poetry in Tales... Read Tales of Two Americas Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

In Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know (2019), journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell investigates why we face so many problems when interacting with strangers. He was inspired to search for the underlying causes of our miscommunications following the death of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was pulled over by a white police officer for a minor traffic infraction in 2015. Bland should have been let go with... Read Talking to Strangers Summary


Publication year 1992Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Technology, Sociology

Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology is a 1992 nonfiction book by Neil Postman, a professor of education and communication. The book examines the influence of technology in society, particularly its rapid spread, far-reaching effects, and unquestioned acceptance. The last point is significant: Postman is not unequivocally opposed to technology but worries that it is not sufficiently scrutinized.The author begins with an overview of technology and how it works culturally. He reviews the history... Read Technopoly Summary


Publication year 2003Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Nation, Society: Colonialism, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: Class, Society: Immigration, Society: Community, Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags History: U.S., Immigration / Refugee, Civil Rights / Jim Crow, Black Lives Matter, Race / Racism, Social Justice, Politics / Government, American Revolution, American Civil War, Colonialism / Postcolonialism, Colonial America, Sociology

The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation, originally published in 2003 by Oxford University Press, is a popular history book by American cultural historian Jim Cullen. As an overview and critical analysis of the American Dream, this book adds some meat to the bones of a traditionally ambiguous concept. Cullen maintains an optimistic outlook about the usefulness of the various American Dreams and about the promise of America, despite... Read The American Dream Summary


Publication year 2012Genre Book, NonfictionTags Food, Sociology

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table is a 2012 non-fiction book written by American journalist Tracie McMillan. By zeroing in on three aspects of the American food system—farm, supermarket, and family restaurant—McMillan, who has reported extensively on food and social equity, investigates how and why healthy meals are out of reach for so many Americans, despite the fact that food is abundant in America. She argues... Read The American Way of Eating Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Identity: Mental HealthTags Inspirational, Science / Nature, History: World, Health / Medicine, Climate Change, Relationships, Sociology

Publication year 2005Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: NationTags History: Asian, Philosophy, Indian Literature, Sociology

Publication year 2018Genre Book, NonfictionTags Psychology, Sociology, Self Help

Priya Parker’s book The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters (2018) is a series of chapter-length essays that provide a guide to organizing effective gatherings as well as a persuasive argument for thinking about them as tools for social transformation. As a highly experienced group facilitator, advisor, podcast host, and expert in conflict resolution, Parker brings a specialist’s insight to her topic. At the same time, she organizes and presents the... Read The Art of Gathering Summary


Publication year 1990Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Femininity, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Life/Time: AgingTags Gender / Feminism, Sociology, Psychology

Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women was published in 1990 and republished in 2002 by HarperCollins with an updated introduction. At the time of its original release, The Beauty Myth was considered a seminal feminist work for its analysis of the way the market—and its consumer culture—generates and perpetuates the myth of beauty to control women on a psychological level. This study guide refers to the 2009 HarperCollins... Read The Beauty Myth Summary


Publication year 1993Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: MusicTags Sociology, Race / Racism, Arts / Culture, History: World, African American Literature, Afro-Caribbean Literature, British Literature

The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness, published in 1993 by Harvard University Press, combines historical, social, political, and cultural dimensions to reconceptualize the contours of Western modernity. Paul Gilroy, noted sociologist and cultural historian, proposes that modernity can be better understood through the analytical frame of the Black Atlantic, a transnational, intercultural, fractal structure of Black political and expressive cultures in the West. Reflections of experiences of modernity by early Black Atlantic intellectuals and... Read The Black Atlantic Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: EconomicsTags Business / Economics, Philosophy, Science / Nature, Psychology, Finance / Money / Wealth, Sociology, History: World

Publication year 1528Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology, Elizabethan Era, Italian Literature

Baldassare Castiglione, an Italian courtier, diplomat, soldier, and prominent Renaissance author, wrote The Book of the Courtier between 1513 and 1527. Principally an instructive work, the book takes place over the course of four evenings in the Italian court of Urbino in 1507. To entertain themselves, the courtiers discuss the nature and traits of the ideal courtier, dealing with topics of individual morals, behavior, and etiquette, particularly in situations involving royalty.The book begins with a... Read The Book of the Courtier Summary


Publication year 1961Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: CommunityTags Sociology

The Death and Life of Great American Cities is a 1961 non-fiction book written by Jane Jacobs, an American-Canadian journalist, author, and activist with expertise in urban history and theory. This guide refers to the original edition published by the Vintage Books division of Random House. The title references the killing of cities by urban planners and to Jacobs’s ideas about the processes required to breathe new life into them. Jacobs’s overarching aim is to... Read The Death and Life of Great American Cities Summary


Publication year 2004Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology, History: U.S., Race / Racism, Immigration / Refugee, Creative Nonfiction

Luis Alberto Urrea’s book, The Devil’s Highway, tells the story of a disastrous border crossing between Mexico and The United States. The Devil’s Highway refers to a particularly brutal stretch of desert. In the past, it was not used as often as other routes, but as the story shows, the development and proliferation of the Border Patrol has made it necessary to use this dangerous route. The story is divided into four sections: “Cutting the... Read The Devil's Highway Summary


Publication year 1893Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Sociology, Philosophy, Business / Economics

The Division of Labor in Society by Émile Durkheim is a doctoral dissertation first published in 1893. It is most notable for using the scientific method to explain social phenomena, and it is widely considered one of the foundational works in modern sociology. Durkheim, along with other theorists such as Max Weber and Karl Marx, is considered a founder of the field. In The Division of Labor in Society, Durkheim explores how modern societies remain... Read The Division of Labor in Society Summary


Publication year 1852Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Society: Class, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Win & LoseTags History: European, Politics / Government, Philosophy, Sociology, German literature

Publication year 1912Genre Reference/Text Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Natural World: Objects, Natural World: Place, Society: CommunityTags Philosophy, Sociology, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 2017Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Equality, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Sociology, Social Justice, Politics / Government

Publication year 1996Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Nation, Life/Time: The Future, Values/Ideas: Safety & DangerTags History: U.S., Sociology, Politics / Government

Publication year 1923Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & PrideTags Anthropology, Sociology, Philosophy, Business / Economics

Publication year 1975Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Natural World: EnvironmentTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Action / Adventure, Food, Grief / Death, Sociology, Relationships, American Literature

Publication year 1843Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Relationships: MothersTags Sociology, Transcendentalism

“The Great Lawsuit” is an essay by Margaret Fuller, an American writer known for her contributions to transcendentalism and the women’s rights movement of the 1800s. It was first published in 1843 in The Dial, a journal she edited at the time. Fuller expanded the piece to create Woman in the Nineteenth Century, a book published in 1845.An early example of feminist writing and a vehicle for transcendentalist ideas, “The Great Lawsuit” centers on concepts... Read The Great Lawsuit Summary


Publication year 1976Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Sexuality, Identity: Mental Health, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Society: CommunityTags Sociology, Philosophy, Love / Sexuality, Psychology, LGBTQ, Post Modernism

Michel Foucault was a French philosopher and theorist whose most significant works were first published in the 1960s and 1970s. Throughout his career, he examined the mechanisms of power and challenged accepted historical narratives, working to show how institutional power shapes the field of possible knowledge to its own advantage. The History of Sexuality, published in three volumes between 1976 and 1984—with a fourth volume published posthumously, in draft form, in 2018—examines the development of... Read The History of Sexuality Summary


Publication year 1973Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Colonialism, Society: Nation, Society: Community, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Anthropology, Sociology, Philosophy, Science / Nature, Psychology, Politics / Government

Publication year 1950Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Society: Nation, Society: Colonialism, Identity: MasculinityTags Philosophy, Race / Racism, Sociology, Gender / Feminism, Latin American Literature, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

The Labyrinth of Solitude is a nine-part philosophical and historical essay on Mexican identity and culture. Octavio Paz, a famous Mexican poet and career diplomat, began writing The Labyrinth of Solitude during his time as the Mexican ambassador to France in the late 1940s. Originally published in 1951, the first edition of Paz’s work appeared in Spanish under the title El labertino de la soledad, and it is widely considered to be Paz’s masterpiece. This... Read The Labyrinth of Solitude Summary


Publication year 1963Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Class, Society: Community, Society: Economics, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Politics / Government, Business / Economics, History: European, Sociology, Industrial Revolution, British Literature, Class

Publication year 1982Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Nurture v. NatureTags History: World, Sociology

The Mismeasure of Man, by Stephen Jay Gould, is a survey and critique of 19th- and 20th-century theories that posited human intelligence was a fixed and measurable number. Gould argues that mainstream scientists were not immune to the widespread racist and prejudicial beliefs of their time, and that these unconscious biases underlie the history of biological determinism, or the argument that shared human behavior is innate and primarily controlled by biology. Under this argument, social... Read The Mismeasure Of Man Summary


Publication year 2010Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Sociology, Social Justice, African American Literature, Black Lives Matter

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a nonfiction book published in 2010 by American author and legal scholar Michelle Alexander. The book argues that the War on Drugs and mass incarceration operate as tools of racialized social control and oppression, not unlike the system in place during the Jim Crow era in the American South. The winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction, The New Jim Crow continues... Read The New Jim Crow Summary


Publication year 1940Genre Book, NonfictionTags Anthropology, Sociology

Publication year 1998Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Nurture v. Nature, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: MothersTags Psychology, Parenting, Science / Nature, Sociology

Publication year 1945Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: FateTags Politics / Government, Philosophy, History: World, Science / Nature, Sociology, Business / Economics

Publication year 1966Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Self Discovery, Identity: Language, Natural World: ObjectsTags Philosophy, Science / Nature, Sociology, Psychology

Publication year 2010Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: FateTags Race / Racism, Sociology

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates (2010) is a narrative nonfiction story that chronicles the lives of two young black men who share the same name: Wes Moore. The author was inspired to write this story because of this fact and their similar start in Baltimore, Maryland. While one Wes Moore was sentenced to life in prison, the writer Wes Moore became a Rhodes Scholar and a best-selling author. Moore’s purpose in writing... Read The Other Wes Moore Summary


Publication year 1998Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Gender, Identity: Race, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Race / Racism, Social Justice, Sociology, History: U.S., Politics / Government

Publication year 1956Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: Politics & Government, Society: ClassTags Sociology, Politics / Government, Philosophy

Publication year 2019Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Education, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: ClassTags Education, Class, Sociology, Race / Racism

Publication year 1905Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Sociology

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a book written by German historian and sociologist Max Weber in 1905. Weber is often considered to be one of the founders of the discipline of sociology, and The Protestant Ethic is one of his most famous texts. As a work of sociology, the book seeks to analyze broad changes in both the economic and the religious structures of Western European and American societies. Over the... Read The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Summary


Publication year 1997Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Philosophy, Race / Racism, Politics / Government, Sociology, Social Justice

Publication year 2019Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Life/Time: Midlife, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Marriage, Self Discovery, Society: CommunityTags Philosophy, Self Help, Psychology, Religion / Spirituality, Sociology

Publication year 1949Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Equality, Identity: Femininity, Identity: SexualityTags Gender / Feminism, Women's Studies (Nonfiction), Existentialism, Philosophy, Sociology

Publication year 2010Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Literature, Life/Time: The Future, Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Science / Nature, Technology, Sociology, Philosophy, Information Age

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (2011) is a nonfiction book by writer, editor, and media critic Nicholas Carr. Carr is a prolific nonfiction writer known for his analysis of cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and human society. A 2011 Pulitzer Prize Finalist, The Shallows combines elements of personal essay, journalism, and academic research to explore The Impact of the Internet on Cognitive Processes, The Nature of Learning and Media in the... Read The Shallows Summary


Publication year 2005Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Education, Identity: Race, Society: Class, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Race / Racism, Politics / Government, Sociology, Social Justice, Poverty

Publication year 1967Genre Reference/Text Book, NonfictionTags Philosophy, Sociology, French Literature

Guy Debord’s 1967 philosophy text, The Society of the Spectacle, analyzes the phenomena of alienation and argues that alienation’s root cause is located within the economic, political, and cultural spheres of modern society. While previous periods of capitalist development saw the hyper-exploitation of workers, the period of capitalism after WWII saw an improvement in labor conditions for greater numbers of workers in society. However, for Debord, this improvement in work conditions did not translate to... Read The Society of the Spectacle Summary


Publication year 1959Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

C. Wright Mills’ The Sociological Imagination covers the recent history of sociology as a field of study relating to society and the lives of individuals therein. While Mills’ work was not well received at the time of publication due to his reputation, today it is one of the most widely read sociology books and a staple in sociology university courses. The questions this text raises and the attention it gives to reconceiving the contemporary human... Read The Sociological Imagination Summary


Publication year 1891Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Philosophy, Politics / Government, Business / Economics, Sociology

Publication year 1997Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: Disability, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Health / Medicine, Science / Nature, Sociology, Immigration / Refugee, American Literature

Anne Fadiman’s non-fiction book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures chronicles the life of Lia Lee, a Hmong girl who lives with her family in Merced, California, in the 1980s and 1990s. The book examines the cultural misunderstandings and conflicting belief systems that result in Lia’s poor medical treatment after she is diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome... Read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Summary


Publication year 1962Genre Reference/Text Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Science / Nature, Philosophy, History: World, Sociology

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) by Thomas Kuhn stands as a seminal work that revolutionized the philosophy of science. As a scholar who shifted his focus from physics to the history of science, and later to the philosophy of science, Kuhn challenged prevailing notions about the nature of scientific progress, introducing concepts such as paradigms, normal science, and scientific revolutions. Situated at the nexus of science, history, and philosophy, Kuhn’s work upended the view... Read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Summary


Publication year 1899Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: ClassTags Business / Economics, Sociology, Philosophy, Politics / Government

The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899), written by Norwegian-American sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen, is a critique of consumerism and conspicuous culture promoted by the wealthy leisure class in America during the Industrial era. Veblen proposes that economics is not simply the study of markets and cash flow; it must include sociological analysis to accurately reflect a society’s consumption patterns and their cultural and economic repercussions. Though the book... Read The Theory of the Leisure Class Summary


Publication year 2000Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Life/Time: The FutureTags Business / Economics, Sociology, Psychology, Self Help, Leadership/Organization/Management

Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point (2000) is an interdisciplinary work of popular sociology and psychology that explores the concept of the tipping point, a moment of sudden change that occurs in social epidemics. Gladwell explores how social epidemics work and offers many case studies and illustrative research to bolster his novel arguments about how epidemics “tip.” The book began as an article for The New Yorker. This guide refers to the first edition of the... Read The Tipping Point Summary


Publication year 1951Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & AngerTags Psychology, Philosophy, Politics / Government, Sociology

The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951), by Eric Hoffer, is a philosophical treatise that explores the question of why ordinary people join mass movements and become fanatical devotees of what they perceive as a holy cause. Hoffer argues that prospective fanatics—the soon-to-be true believers—experience personal frustration so intense that their strongest desire is to lose their individuality altogether by surrendering to something greater than themselves. Mass movements exploit this frustration... Read The True Believer Summary