The summer is finally here! To celebrate the season, the TSP board has put our heads together to bring you a list of sociology reading recommendations. Whether you’re lounging by the pool, relaxing at the beach, or simply enjoying some downtime at home, we hope these books will provide you with both entertainment and insights. Dive into these selections and have a restful summer. Happy reading!

  • In 2020: One City, Seven People, and the Year Everything Changed, Eric Klinenberg provides an in-depth, probing, and intimate sociological analysis of a year that none of us who lived through it will likely forget. As one of our most trusted public sociologists, Klinenberg examines the challenges of social solidarity and its unique fragility in the United States. His work not only helps us understand the pandemic but also lays a foundation for reimagining (or not) our politics, culture, and institutions in the future. – Recommended by Doug and Chris

  • Very Important People by Ashley Mears brings the reader into the exclusive, extravagant, and disturbing world of the elite global party circuit. Mears blends sociological analysis with an engaging narrative to reveal the extreme gender inequalities of these VIP spaces and update Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption for the 21st Century. – Recommended by Mallory

  • In Elusive Jannah, Cawo Abdi explores the varying experiences of members of the Somali diaspora in three countries: the United States, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates. It’s a fascinating examination of how people’s experiences are uniquely shaped by culture, religion, and government policy. – Recommended by S

  • Mona Lynch’s Hard Bargains provides an engaging examination of how federal prosecutors induce guilty pleas in drug cases tried in federal courts. The book begins by providing readers with a brief history of America’s approach to confronting drug crimes, which sets the stage for the findings of Lynch’s research of how prosecutors in different regions of the U.S. used markedly different tactics when trying to indict drug defendants. – Recommended by John

  • The Minneapolis Reckoning: Race, Violence, and the Politics of Policing in America by Michelle Phelps analyzes the roots of George Floyd’s murder by Derek Chauvin and the conflicts between Minneapolis’s BIPOC communities and its police department. This book explores why Minneapolis was poised to be the perfect place for political protest by examining its intertwined histories of activism and policing. This book covers the deep complexity of how activism and accountability work to push for policing change. – Recommended by Ellie

  • In Before the Badge, Samantha J. Simon explores the selection and training of police officers, revealing how it instills a mindset of state violence. After spending a year training with cadets, Simon shows how the process encourages viewing Black and Latino communities as enemies, perpetuating patterns of police violence. Her work calls for a reimagining of policing in the United States. – Recommended by Leo

  • Examining the shifting lines over gun rights in the United States after the 2020 election fallout, Jennifer Carlson‘s Merchants of the Right covers the surge in liberal gun buyers. Conducting interviews with gun sellers, Carlson discovered that traditional gun supporters faced a new dilemma of either 1) welcoming the new liberal gun owners or 2) doubling down on gun ownership as an exclusively conservative identity. – Recommended by Forrest

  • MacArthur Genius Reuben Miller‘s book, Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, centers around the conditions and realities in one of the largest and historically recognized American jails, Cook County, Chicago. As a social work and sociology grad student, I connected with the personal stories Dr. Miller shared of incarcerated loved ones and the importance of working as a grounded academic. I highly recommend Halfway Home for anyone interested in the current criminal justice system. – Recommended by Jake