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