Five Must-Read Sociology Books

Updated on July 29, 2016

Sociology is one of the most interesting topics to study and read about because it is a study of our society. From media to race to cults, sociology is a topic that can keep you reading until the late hours of the night.

This list is a collection of five of the best sociological books out there. This list does not include textbooks or readers, but rather, books that one would read outside of the classroom. Scroll down to explore the fascinating world of sociology and culture.

We will explore the most entertaining writers of this time. From Malcolm Gladwell's masterpiece to Klosterman's interesting collection, you will be contemplating which book to read first.

If you have any books to add, you can leave a comment at the end of the page.


Malcolm Gladwell's masterpiece, Blink, is a book about "thin slicing," a term used to describe breaking down trends to their source. He explores stereotypes, pop culture and sports. He believes that having more information allows us to see the trends in this world for what they are.

But, there is a downside to knowing too much information. Gladwell doesn't hesitate to say that knowing too much can be overwhelming at best. Knowing too much can keep one from finding the ultimate truth, that should be seen with a simple, clear and innocent mind.

If you want to learn more about how your mind works, read Blink.

Pretty in Punk

Pretty in Punk explores the youth subculture of punk and how it has influenced human's lifestyles and their goals. This book is unique in the way that the author is completely non-biased and shows the interesting lifestyle of those in the punk culture.

The author often makes remarks about the way her research was looked upon as a corporate tool even though she was attempting to create a document that would humanize those in such an alienating community.

As she offers punks money for ten minutes of questions, she soon learns that their culture is somewhat desirable despite the trends of the individual's life paths. Many of them come from suburbia and have wealthy parents. If you are interested in learning more about the punk subculture and rebellious youth, check out Pretty in Punk.


This book has to be one of the best books out there. I remember getting it for the plane on my way to Mexico and reading it cover-to-cover before we landed. The author shows us how names affect our lifestyle and how the drug dealing world works.

He explores logical explanations for the many questionable patterns in society. This book became a radio show and much more because of the overwhelming response. Steven Levitt and New York Times author, Stephen Dubner, team up on this amazing project—a look at our society through the eyes of two experienced sociologists.

Amusing Ourselves to Death

This book is inspired by the famous 1984 written by George Orwell. The book focuses on the media and its control over society. The author compares the book to the also well-known novel by Huxley, Brave New World.

All of these novels are about the government's control over our minds. Amusing Ourselves to Death is more about the media and how we are consuming it. He argues that one medium has limits to how it can be consumed and ultimately how it affects the viewer/reader/consumer.

If you want to know more about the media and how you are a victim of this consumption, read Amusing Ourselves to Death.

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

This collection of short vignettes shows the world through the eyes of many people—all part of different subcultures. The first begins with an "emo" teen.

The vignettes are all written by Clark Klosterman, who begins each section with a small passage that explains the meaning of his piece and usually links to the next. These vignettes, while significant and dark at times, is comedic.

From MTV to Kellogg's, this book explores the many internal conflicts that arise in a media-driven society and how people under different circumstances interpret them. Klosterman's collection is a riveting, interesting and overstimulating piece that you won't put down until you've read it all.

Which book sounds most interesting to you?

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    • profile image

      Julie K Henderson 

      5 years ago

      This is an excellent list. I'm a huge Chuck Klosterman fan. His book "Eating The Dinosaur" is another worthwhile sociological commentary. I haven't heard of "Amusing Ourselves To Death," though I have wondered how the consumption of media affects our culture as a whole. If I could recommend a book to add to this list, it would be "The Narcissism Epidemic" by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell. Voted up.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've actually read Freakonomics. I definitely need to check out the other ones though. Great hub!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      A couple more suggestions: "Money and Motivation" by William Foote Whyte, "The Human Group" by George Homans and "The Division of Labor in Society, Emile Durkheim (one of the earliest pioneers of sociology).

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 

      8 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      I highly recommend Freakonomics--and the sequel, Super Freakonomics.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      8 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I'm definitely interested in Blink. I like to explore the intersection of pop culture and group thinking. I was a double sociology and comm studies major in school, so all of this appeals to me. Great list, I'll definitely keep these titles in mind.

    • brittanytodd profile imageAUTHOR

      Brittany Kennedy 

      8 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      Shields, I don't know why you would call these books "outdated". We can always learn from different parts of society from any time in order to improve upon our current situation. Some of these books will never be "outdated", like Freakonomics or Blink. Thanks for you comment.

    • brittanytodd profile imageAUTHOR

      Brittany Kennedy 

      8 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      Thank you, prairieprincess!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 

      8 years ago from Canada

      These all look very interesting reads! I have always enjoyed reading books in this field, about society and how we function.

    • brittanytodd profile imageAUTHOR

      Brittany Kennedy 

      8 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      cclitgirl, thank you for reading and commenting! I love Blink! It has such an encouraging and interesting tone. I love "Empire of Illusion," but like you said, it made me super depressed. "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs" is somewhat of a dark comedy that allows you to see the injustices, but leave feeling confident that we can do something about them.

      Another encouraging sociologist, Peter Singer, has some excellent books and articles that encourage others to live a fulfilling life while helping others.

      Thanks again for reading and sharing. I will have to check out "Hot, Flat, and Crowded."

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      8 years ago from Western NC

      These look like good reads! I've only read "Freakonomics" out of this group. You're right about knowing the truth part: knowing too much can make life...less enjoyable. I had to put "Hot, Flat, and Crowded" by Thomas Friedman down about halfway through. It's an amazing read, don't get me wrong, but I was sitting there thinking, I don't deserve to breathe for all the destruction humans are doing to the planet. I agree with the man, but the bleak truth just got to me. Another one that did that to me was "Empire of Illusion." Amazing read...but I got depressed. I had, HAD to go to happier reads. Now, that I'm happy, perhaps I'll try "Blink" next. It's been out awhile, and I eyed it when I was working at a's on my list of the next 500 books to read. Hahaha. I have a problem: I LOVE reading. :)


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