Top 10 Best Books to Read in Sociology & Religion - August 2021

Here are our top ten recommendations if you are looking for the best books to read in Sociology & Religion. We have made sure our list is diverse to cater to the interests of different types of readers.

1. Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Sociology & Religion - August 2021

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The “paradigm-influencing” book ( Christianity Today ) that is fundamentally transforming our understanding of white evangelicalism in America. Jesus and John Wayne  is a sweeping, revisionist history of the last seventy-five years of white evangelicalism, revealing how evangelicals have worked to replace the Jesus of the Gospels with an idol of rugged masculinity and Christian nationalism―or in the words of one modern chaplain, with “a spiritual badass.” As acclaimed scholar Kristin Du Mez explains, the key to understanding this transformation is to recognize the centrality of popular culture in contemporary American evangelicalism. Many of today’s evangelicals might not be theologically astute, but they know their VeggieTales, they’ve read John Eldredge’s  Wild at Heart , and they learned about purity before they learned about sex―and they have a silver ring to prove it. Evangelical books, films, music, clothing, and merchandise shape the beliefs of millions. And evangelical culture is teeming with muscular heroes―mythical warriors and rugged soldiers, men like Oliver North, Ronald Reagan, Mel Gibson, and the Duck Dynasty clan, who assert white masculine power in defense of “Christian America.” Chief among these evangelical legends is John Wayne, an icon of a lost time when men were uncowed by political correctness, unafraid to tell it like it was, and did what needed to be done. Challenging the commonly held assumption that the “moral majority” backed Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020 for purely pragmatic reasons, Du Mez reveals that Trump in fact represented the fulfillment, rather than the betrayal, of white evangelicals’ most deeply held values: patriarchy, authoritarian rule, aggressive foreign policy, fear of Islam, ambivalence toward #MeToo, and opposition to Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ community. A much-needed reexamination of perhaps the most influential subculture in this country,  Jesus and John Wayne  shows that, far from adhering to biblical principles, modern white evangelicals have remade their faith, with enduring consequences for all Americans. 15 black-and-white illustrations

  • Author: Kristin Kobes Du Mez
  • Publisher: Liveright (June 8, 2021)
  • Genre: History, World
  • ISBN: 978-1631499050
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches


2. Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Sociology & Religion - August 2021

This extraordinary work of investigative journalism takes listeners inside America’s isolated Mormon Fundamentalist communities, where some 40,000 people still practice polygamy. Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the renegade leaders of these Taliban-like theocracies are zealots who answer only to God. At the core of Krakauer’s book are brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a commandment from God to kill a blameless woman and her baby girl. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this appalling double murder, Krakauer constructs a multi-layered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, polygamy, savage violence, and unyielding faith. Along the way he uncovers a shadowy offshoot of America’s fastest growing religion and raises provocative questions about the nature of religious belief.

  • Author: Jon Krakauer
  • Genre: Christian Books & Bibles, Christian Denominations & Sects, Mormonism


3. Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Sociology & Religion - August 2021

2021 Christian Book Award® program - Faith and Culture 2020 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Finalist - Religion 2021 Outreach Resources of the Year - Christian Living 2021 Christianity Today Book Award - Beautiful Orthodoxy 2020 The Gospel Coalition Book Award - Popular Theology - Honorable Mention 2020 Emerging Public Intellectual Award Growing up in the American South, Esau McCaulley knew firsthand the ongoing struggle between despair and hope that marks the lives of some in the African American context. A key element in the fight for hope, he discovered, has long been the practice of Bible reading and interpretation that comes out of traditional Black churches. This ecclesial tradition is often disregarded or viewed with suspicion by much of the wider church and academy, but it has something vital to say. Reading While Black is a personal and scholarly testament to the power and hope of Black biblical interpretation. At a time in which some within the African American community are questioning the place of the Christian faith in the struggle for justice, New Testament scholar McCaulley argues that reading Scripture from the perspective of Black church tradition is invaluable for connecting with a rich faith history and addressing the urgent issues of our times. He advocates for a model of interpretation that involves an ongoing conversation between the collective Black experience and the Bible, in which the particular questions coming out of Black communities are given pride of place and the Bible is given space to respond by affirming, challenging, and, at times, reshaping Black concerns. McCaulley demonstrates this model with studies on how Scripture speaks to topics often overlooked by white interpreters, such as ethnicity, political protest, policing, and slavery. Ultimately McCaulley calls the church to a dynamic theological engagement with Scripture, in which Christians of diverse backgrounds dialogue with their own social location as well as the cultures of others. Reading While Black moves the conversation forward.

  • Author: Esau McCaulley
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (September 1, 2020)
  • Genre: Christian Books & Bibles, Bible Study & Reference
  • ISBN: 978-0830854868
  • Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches


4. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Sociology & Religion - August 2021

The complete, authoritative collection of Ernest Hemingway's short fiction, including classic stories like "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," along with seven previously unpublished stories. In this definitive collection of the Nobel Prize-winning author’s short stories, readers will delight in Hemingway’s most beloved classics such as "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," "Hills Like White Elephants," and "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," and will discover seven new tales published for the first time in this collection, totaling in sixty stories. This collection demonstrates Hemingway’s ability to write beautiful prose for each distinct story, with plots that range from experiences of World War II to beautifully touching moments between a father and son. For Hemingway fans, The Complete Short Stories is an invaluable treasury.

  • Author: Ernest Hemingway
  • Publisher: Scribner; 3rd Edition (August 3, 1998)
  • Genre: Christian Books & Bibles, Bible Study & Reference
  • ISBN: 978-0684843322
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.7 x 8.25 inches


5. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Sociology & Religion - August 2021

In the tradition of Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Sam Harris' recent best-seller, The End of Faith , Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion. With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos. With eloquent clarity, Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope's view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty of the double helix.

  • Author: Christopher Hitchens
  • Genre: Religion & Spirituality, Religious Studies, Sociology


6. When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Sociology & Religion - August 2021

2021 Christian Book Award® program - Ministry Resources 2021 Outreach Resource of the Year - Counseling and Relationships Why does narcissism seem to thrive in our churches? We've seen the news stories and heard the rumors. Maybe we ourselves have been hurt by a narcissistic church leader. It's easy to throw the term around and diagnose others from afar. But what is narcissism, really? And how does it infiltrate the church? Chuck DeGroat has been counseling pastors with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as well as those wounded by narcissistic leaders and systems, for over twenty years. He knows firsthand the devastation narcissism leaves in its wake and how insidious and painful it is. In When Narcissism Comes to Church , DeGroat takes a close look at narcissism, not only in ministry leaders but also in church systems. He offers compassion and hope for those affected by its destructive power and imparts wise counsel for churches looking to heal from its systemic effects. DeGroat also offers hope for narcissists themselves―not by any shortcut, but by the long, slow road of genuine recovery, possible only through repentance and trust in the humble gospel of Jesus.

  • Author: Chuck DeGroat
  • Publisher: IVP (March 17, 2020)
  • Genre: Christian Books & Bibles, Churches & Church Leadership
  • ISBN: 978-0830841592
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches


7. The Power of Myth

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Sociology & Religion - August 2021

The national bestseller, now available in a non-illustrated, standard format paperback edition   The Power of Myth launched an extraordinary resurgence of interest in Joseph Campbell and his work. A preeminent scholar, writer, and teacher, he has had a profound influence on millions of people--including Star Wars creator George Lucas. To Campbell, mythology was the “song of the universe, the music of the spheres.” With Bill Moyers, one of America’s most prominent journalists, as his thoughtful and engaging interviewer, The Power of Myth touches on subjects from modern marriage to virgin births, from Jesus to John Lennon, offering a brilliant combination of intelligence and wit. This extraordinary book reveals how the themes and symbols of ancient narratives continue to bring meaning to birth, death, love, and war. From stories of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome to traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, a broad array of themes are considered that together identify the universality of human experience across time and culture. An impeccable match of interviewer and subject, a timeless distillation of Campbell’s work, The Power of Myth continues to exert a profound influence on our culture.

  • Author: Joseph Campbell
  • Publisher: Anchor (June 1, 1991)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, History & Criticism
  • ISBN: 978-0385418867
  • Dimensions: 5.19 x 0.66 x 8.01 inches


8. The Theft of America’s Soul: Blowing the Lid Off the Lies That Are Destroying Our Country

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Sociology & Religion - August 2021

It’s time to take back what the devil has stolen and put God back into our culture. The Theft of America’s Soul is a prophetic wake-up call for all who desire to see our nation thrive, challenging readers to exchange these ten lies for truths that will bring peace of mind, harmony, and prosperity back to our country—an invitation to experience the life-giving, peace-filling, wholly-transforming love of God. Phil Robertson, patriarch of A&E’s Duck Dynasty and one of the most recognized voices of conservative Christianity in America, believes that little by little, generation by generation, America has allowed the lines of morality, decency, and virtue to be erased. Our values have disappeared as we began to believe lies—such as that God is dead, truth is relative, and unity is impossible—that have brought discord, division and protest.  But Phil also believes that things can change. Writing with captivating storytelling and unflinching honesty, Phil shows how to make America a God-honoring nation once more: by dropping the ten central lies that rule our day, including God is dead There is no Devil Truth is relative Sex is for self-gratification

  • Author: Phil Robertson
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Illustrated edition (February 5, 2019)
  • Genre: History, World
  • ISBN: 978-1400210046
  • Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.87 x 9.3 inches


9. Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Sociology & Religion - August 2021

For the millions of Americans who want spirituality without religion, Sam Harris’s latest New York Times bestseller is a guide to meditation as a rational practice informed by neuroscience and psychology. From Sam Harris, neuroscientist and author of numerous New York Times bestselling books, Waking Up is for the twenty percent of Americans who follow no religion but who suspect that important truths can be found in the experiences of such figures as Jesus, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Rumi, and the other saints and sages of history. Throughout this book, Harris argues that there is more to understanding reality than science and secular culture generally allow, and that how we pay attention to the present moment largely determines the quality of our lives. Waking Up is part memoir and part exploration of the scientific underpinnings of spirituality. No other book marries contemplative wisdom and modern science in this way, and no author other than Sam Harris—a scientist, philosopher, and famous skeptic—could write it.

  • Author: Sam Harris
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (June 16, 2015)
  • Genre: Christian Books & Bibles, Christian Living
  • ISBN: 978-1451636024
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.38 inches


10. Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Sociology & Religion - August 2021

The award-winning author of  Grateful  goes beyond the culture wars to offer a refreshing take on the comprehensive, multi-faceted nature of Jesus, keeping his teachings relevant and alive in our daily lives. How can you still be a Christian? This is the most common question Diana Butler Bass is asked today. It is a question that many believers ponder as they wrestle with disappointment and disillusionment in their church and its leadership. But while many Christians have left their churches, they cannot leave their faith behind.  In Freeing Jesus, Bass challenges the idea that Jesus can only be understood in static, one-dimensional ways and asks us to instead consider a life where Jesus grows with us and helps us through life’s challenges in several capacities: as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence.  Freeing Jesus  is an invitation to leave the religious wars behind and rediscover Jesus in all his many manifestations, to experience Jesus beyond the narrow confines we have built around him. It renews our hope in faith and worship at a time when we need it most.

  • Author: Diana Butler Bass
  • Publisher: HarperOne (March 30, 2021)
  • Genre: Christian Books & Bibles, Bible Study & Reference
  • ISBN: 978-0062659521
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.05 x 8.25 inches