Book Corner

Many of us are readers. We read to keep up on the latest sociological research, of course, but we also read for pleasure. In the Book Corner, Sociology faculty, staff, graduate students, and visitors share recommendations for novels, biographies, history, and non-fiction books that have made an impact on us. What these books share in common is that they are all "good reads" that are accessible to a wide range of readers. And while few them are explicitly Sociology books, many touch on themes that come up in our classes, and in contemporary society. We encourage you to browse through these entries, then pull up a chair and start reading. There will be no quizzes, but feel free to let us know what you think.

Spiritual Virtuoso
THE SPIRITUAL VIRTUOSO: PERSONAL FAITH AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION Marion Goldman and Steven Pfaff*   Reviewed by Susan Pitchford Every field of endeavor has its virtuosi: those rare ones whose mix of talent and drive cause them to excel. The field of spirituality is no different, as sociologist Max Weber noted a century ago. But while Weber gave most of his attention to spiritual virtuosi... Read more
Hamilton Cover
Read the Preface to Professor Hamilton's New Book When the two of us first began our collaboration in the 1984–1985 academic year, we thought the secret of Taiwan’s industrialization was there in front of us, waiting to be discovered. Hamilton, a sociologist then located at the University of California, Davis, had gone to Taiwan on a Fulbright fellowship to teach and do... Read more
An American Sickness
On October 9th, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala met with a group of graduate students to share her experiences working in the Clinton White House, as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, and as the President of the Clinton Foundation.  During a lively rountable discussion, students learned about the ways is which empirical evidene is -- and is not -- used in the... Read more
In 1992 the New England Journal of Medicine publishes a letter to the editor by Jane Porter and Dr. Hershel Jick titled “Addiction Rare in Patients Treated with Narcotics.” Sometime in 2000 a family living in a poor village in the State of Nayarit on the West Coast of Mexico builds a comfortable new house that is the envy of their neighbors. In 2015 economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton of... Read more
The Righteous Mind
Why has politics in America and Europe become so polarized and partisan in the last few decades? Journalists, political scientists, and sociologists have all attempted to answer this question, but one of the most interesting attempts I’ve seen comes from a cognitive psychologist. The first 75% or so of ’s The Righteous Mind provides a novel and compelling analysis of the evolutionary and... Read more
Modern Romance
This past summer I had my SOC 110 students read Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance. While it may seem like a dating advice book, I was pleasantly surprised by how thoughtful and well-researched it is. I received positive feedback from my students as well, who said the book was 'funny', 'not too serious', and 'not boring' - great comments for any assigned reading. Ansari and NYU sociologist Eric... Read more
Just Mercy Cover
Just Mercy, written by attorney and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson, is not a book one easily forgets. It is, instead, saddening, inspiring, infuriating and motivating – all at once. Bryan Stevenson is a master story-teller, and has been advocating on behalf of the condemned and marginalized for decades. He uses this memoir to tell the stories of... Read more
Like many fans of "weird fiction" and supernatural horror, I have been drawn to the work of H.P. Lovecraft (born 1890, died 1937) since I was a teenager. Lovecraft has had an outsized influence on the development of modern American fiction and especially to the horror and science fiction genres. Besides being original, entertaining and highly quirky, Lovecraft's work is important because it... Read more