Here are our top ten recommendations if you are looking for the best books to read in Sociology of Rural Areas. We have made sure our list is diverse to cater to the interests of different types of readers.
1. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER IS NOW A MAJOR-MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD AND STARRING AMY ADAMS, GLENN CLOSE, AND GABRIEL BASSO "You will not read a more important book about America this year. "— The Economist "A riveting book."— The Wall Street Journal "Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history. A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
- Author: J. D. Vance
- Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 1, 2018)
- Genre: History, Americas
- ISBN: 978-0062300553
- Dimensions: 5.31 x 0.72 x 8 inches
2. Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook
Hesperian's classic manual, Where There Is No Doctor , is arguably the most widely-used health care manual in the world. This 2020 updated reprint features updated medication information, a newly revised family planning chapter, new treatments for a variety of infections, and more. All Hesperian books are regularly updated and reprinted to reflect accurate medical information. Useful for health workers, clinicians, and others involved in primary health care delivery and health promotion programs, with millions of copies in print in more than 75 languages, the manual provides practical, easily understood information on how to diagnose, treat, and prevent common diseases. Special attention is focused on nutrition, infection and disease prevention, and diagnostic techniques as primary ways to prevent and treat health problems.
- Author: David Werner
- Publisher: Hesperian Health Guides; Sixteenth Updated printing April 2020 edition (April 1, 2020)
- Genre: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Diseases & Physical Ailments
- ISBN: 978-0942364156
- Dimensions: 6.75 x 1 x 9.75 inches
3. Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream
Named Sports Illustrated' s best football book of all time and a #1 NYT bestseller, this is the classic story of a high school football team whose win-loss record has a profound influence on the town around them. Return once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa -- the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Socially and racially divided, Odessa isn't known to be a place big on dreams, but every Friday night from September to December, when the Panthers play football, dreams can come true. With frankness and compassion, Pulitzer Prize winner H. G. Bissinger unforgettably captures a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires -- and sometimes shatters -- the teenagers who wear the Panthers' uniforms. The inspiration for the hit television program and film of the same name, this anniversary edition features a new afterword by the author.
- Author: H.G. Bissinger
- Publisher: Da Capo Press Inc.; 1st edition (September 1, 2015)
- Genre: History, Americas
- ISBN: 978-0306824203
4. Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains
After rising from poverty to earn two Ivy League degrees, an Appalachian lawyer pays tribute to the strong "hill women" who raised and inspired her, and whose values have the potential to rejuvenate a struggling region. "Destined to be compared to Hillbilly Elegy and Educated ." (BookPage starred review) "Poverty is enmeshed with pride in these stories of survival." (Associated Press) Nestled in the Appalachian mountains, Owsley County is one of the poorest counties in both Kentucky and the country. Buildings are crumbling and fields sit vacant, as tobacco farming and coal mining decline. But strong women are finding creative ways to subsist in their hollers in the hills. Cassie Chambers grew up in these hollers, and through the women who raised her, she traces her own path out of and back into the Kentucky mountains. Chambers' granny was a child bride who rose before dawn every morning to raise seven children. Despite her poverty, she wouldn’t hesitate to give the last bite of pie or vegetables from her garden to a struggling neighbor. Her two daughters took very different paths: strong-willed Ruth - the hardest-working tobacco farmer in the county - stayed on the family farm, while spirited Wilma - the sixth child - became the first in the family to graduate from high school, then moved an hour away for college. Married at 19 and pregnant with Cassie a few months later, Wilma beat the odds to finish school. She raised her daughter to think she could move mountains, like the ones that kept her safe but also isolated her from the larger world. Cassie would spend much of her childhood with Granny and Ruth in the hills of Owsley County, both while Wilma was in college and after. With her "hill women" values guiding her, Cassie went on to graduate from Harvard Law. But while the Ivy League gave her knowledge and opportunities, its privileged world felt far from her reality, and she moved back home to help her fellow rural Kentucky women by providing free legal services. Appalachian women face issues that are all too common: domestic violence, the opioid crisis, a world that seems more divided by the day. But they are also community leaders, keeping their towns together in the face of a system that continually fails them. With nuance and heart, Chambers uses these women’s stories paired with her own journey to break down the myth of the hillbilly and illuminate a region whose poor communities, especially women, can lead it into the future.
- Author: Cassie Chambers
- Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, Community & Culture, Women
5. The Death and Life of Great American Cities
A direct and fundamentally optimistic indictment of the short-sightedness and intellectual arrogance that has characterized much of urban planning in this century, The Death and Life of Great American Cities has, since its first publication in 1961, become the standard against which all endeavors in that field are measured. In prose of outstanding immediacy, Jane Jacobs writes about what makes streets safe or unsafe; about what constitutes a neighborhood, and what function it serves within the larger organism of the city; about why some neighborhoods remain impoverished while others regenerate themselves. She writes about the salutary role of funeral parlors and tenement windows, the dangers of too much development money and too little diversity. Compassionate, bracingly indignant, and always keenly detailed, Jane Jacobs's monumental work provides an essential framework for assessing the vitality of all cities.
- Author: Jane Jacobs
- Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (December 1, 1992)
- Genre: Arts & Photography, Architecture
- ISBN: 978-0679741954
- Dimensions: 5.23 x 0.99 x 8 inches
6. Canary in the Coal Mine: A Forgotten Rural Community, a Hidden Epidemic, and a Lone Doctor Battling for the Life, Health, and Soul of the People
One doctor’s courageous fight to save a small town from a silent epidemic that threatened the community’s future―and exposed a national health crisis. When Dr. Will Cooke, an idealistic young physician just out of medical training, set up practice in the small rural community of Austin, Indiana, he had no idea that much of the town was being torn apart by poverty, addiction, and life-threatening illnesses. But he soon found himself at the crossroads of two unprecedented health-care disasters: a national opioid epidemic and the worst drug-fueled HIV outbreak ever seen in rural America. Confronted with Austin’s hidden secrets, Dr. Cooke decided he had to do something about them. In taking up the fight for Austin’s people, however, he would have to battle some unanticipated foes: prejudice, political resistance, an entrenched bureaucracy―and the dark despair that threatened to overwhelm his own soul. : Canary in the Coal Mine is a gripping account of the transformation of a man and his adopted community, a compelling and ultimately hopeful read in the vein of Hillbilly Elegy, Dreamland , and Educated .
- Author: Dr. William Cooke
- Publisher: Tyndale Refresh (June 22, 2021)
- Genre: Christian Books & Bibles, Christian Living
- ISBN: 978-1496446480
- Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
7. Janesville: An American Story
* Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year * Winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize * 800-CEO-READ Business Book of the Year * A New York Times Notable Book * A Washington Post Notable Book * An NPR Best Book of 2017 * A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2017 * An Economist Best Book of 2017 * A Business Insider Best Book of 2017 * “A gripping story of psychological defeat and resilience” (Bob Woodward, The Washington Post )—an intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, and a larger story of the hollowing of the American middle class. This is the story of what happens to an industrial town in the American heartland when its main factory shuts down—but it’s not the familiar tale. Most observers record the immediate shock of vanished jobs, but few stay around long enough to notice what happens next when a community with a can-do spirit tries to pick itself up. Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Amy Goldstein spent years immersed in Janesville, Wisconsin, where the nation’s oldest operating General Motors assembly plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession. Now, with intelligence, sympathy, and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval, Goldstein shows the consequences of one of America’s biggest political issues. Her reporting takes the reader deep into the lives of autoworkers, educators, bankers, politicians, and job re-trainers to show why it’s so hard in the twenty-first century to recreate a healthy, prosperous working class. “Moving and magnificently well-researched... Janesville joins a growing family of books about the evisceration of the working class in the United States. What sets it apart is the sophistication of its storytelling and analysis” (Jennifer Senior, The New York Times ). “Anyone tempted to generalize about the American working class ought to meet the people in Janesville . The reporting behind this book is extraordinary and the story—a stark, heartbreaking reminder that political ideologies have real consequences—is told with rare sympathy and insight” (Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Soul of a New Machine ).
- Author: Amy Goldstein
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (April 18, 2017)
- Genre: Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, History
8. The Quiet Zone: Unraveling the Mystery of a Town Suspended in Silence
"Captivating." — Kirkus | "Fascinating, deeply reported, and slightly eerie." — BookPage (Starred Review) | " The Quiet Zone will live on in your memory." —Bill McKibben A stunning portrait of an Appalachian community, the people who call it home, and the enduring human quest for quiet Deep in the Appalachian Mountains lies the last truly quiet town in America. Green Bank, West Virginia, is a place at once futuristic and old-fashioned: It’s home to the Green Bank Observatory, where astronomers search the depths of the universe using the latest technology, while schoolchildren go without WiFi or iPads. With a ban on all devices emanating radio frequencies that might interfere with the observatory’s telescopes, Quiet Zone residents live a life free from constant digital connectivity. But a community that on the surface seems idyllic is a place of contradictions, where the provincial meets the seemingly supernatural and quiet can serve as a cover for something darker. Stephen Kurczy embedded in Green Bank, making the residents of this small Appalachian village his neighbors. He shopped at the town’s general store, attended church services, went target shooting with a seven-year-old, square-danced with the locals, sampled the local moonshine. In The Quiet Zone, he introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters. There is a tech buster patrolling the area for illegal radio waves; “electrosensitives” who claim that WiFi is deadly; a sheriff’s department with a string of unsolved murder cases dating back decades; a camp of neo-Nazis plotting their resurgence from a nearby mountain hollow. Amongst them all are the ordinary citizens seeking a simpler way of living. Kurczy asks: Is a less connected life desirable? Is it even possible? The Quiet Zone is a remarkable work of investigative journalism—at once a stirring ode to place, a tautly-wound tale of mystery, and a clarion call to reexamine the role technology plays in our lives.
- Author: Stephen Kurczy
- Publisher: Dey Street Books (August 3, 2021)
- Genre: Science & Math, Technology
- ISBN: 978-0062945495
- Dimensions: 6 x 1.09 x 9 inches
9. Mr Finchley Discovers His England (Classic Canning Book 1)
Mr Edgar Finchley, unmarried clerk, aged 45, is told to take a holiday for the first time in his life. He decides to go to the seaside. But Fate has other plans in store… From his abduction by a cheerful crook, to his smuggling escapade off the south coast, the timid but plucky Mr Finchley is plunged into a series of the most astonishing and extraordinary adventures. His rural adventure takes him gradually westward through the English countryside and back, via a smuggling yacht, to London. This gentle comedy trilogy was a runaway bestseller on first publication in the 1930s and retains a timeless appeal today. It has been dramatized twice for BBC Radio, with the 1990 series regularly repeated. What people are saying about the Mr Finchley series: ‘ Wonderful character from a kinder slower England between the wars.’ ‘ An overlooked gem. An innocent picaresque novel set in an arcadian version of mid 20th century England. The literary equivalent of naive painting, it narrates the adventures of a respectable upper middle-aged man who takes retirement.’ ‘ An antidote to the rush of the early 21st century .’ ‘A thoroughly enjoyable stroll through a vanished England with some lovable characters. Don't expect modern, fashionable agonisings, here there is good, evil, and understanding. A lovely reminiscent wallow of a read.’ ‘Gentle well told simple story, full of pleasant surprises, and a mild mannered believable hero. Loved it to bits .’ ‘ So gentle, it hurts .’ ‘ There is a freshness about the writing which is charming and that disarms criticism. Don't expect any great profundities, a gripping plot or inter-character tensions - these books are of the world of Billy Bunter and William Brown - but do expect a very well-written and enjoyable romp through early twentieth-century England in the company of an engaging protagonist.’ ‘A delightful story of a man who finds himself jolted out of his comfort zone and taken on a journey beyond his wildest imaginings.’ ‘Another lovely book detailing the adventures of Mr Finchley in altogether far too short a series. Full of humour and a book I was sorry to finish as I wanted it to go on and on .’ ‘ Highly recommended for anyone seeking an entertaining amusing read.’ ‘ A delight to be transported to an England I never knew despite growing up in the 1950s and to experience the countryside through the sharp eyes of the author who obviously had a great love of all things rural.’ Editorial reviews: ‘ Quite delightful, with an atmosphere of quiet contentment and humour that cannot fail to charm … The longer we travel with Mr Finchley, the better we come to love him. He makes us share his bread and cheese, and beer and pipe. His delight at the beauties of the countryside and his mild astonishment at the strange ways of men are infectious.’ Daily Telegraph ‘His gift of story-telling is obviously innate. Rarely does one come on so satisfying an amalgam of plot, characterisation and good writing .’ Punch ‘ A paean to the beauties of the English countryside and the lovable oddities of the English character … Mr Finchley runs into one astonishing situation after another, sticking gamely to his resolve that he must take things as they come and accept them.’ New York Times ‘What counts for most in the story, as it did for Mr Finchley, is his mounting pleasure in vagabondage and the English scene .’ The Times ‘There is such a gentle humour in the book … Mr Finchley is the ideal Englishman.’ Daily Sketch
- Author: Victor Canning
- Publisher: Farrago (April 18, 2019)
- Genre: Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, Politics & Social Sciences
10. Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West
A Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and Winner of the Bancroft Prize. "No one has written a better book about a city… Nature's Metropolis is elegant testimony to the proposition that economic, urban, environmental, and business history can be as graceful, powerful, and fascinating as a novel." ―Kenneth T. Jackson, Boston Globe In this groundbreaking work, William Cronon gives us an environmental perspective on the history of nineteenth-century America. By exploring the ecological and economic changes that made Chicago America's most dynamic city and the Great West its hinterland, Mr. Cronon opens a new window onto our national past. This is the story of city and country becoming ever more tightly bound in a system so powerful that it reshaped the American landscape and transformed American culture. The world that emerged is our own. Winner of the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize
- Author: William Cronon
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Revised ed. edition (May 17, 1992)
- Genre: History, Americas
- ISBN: 978-0393308730
- Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 9.3 inches