100 books like Children of the Great Depression

By Glen H. Elder, Jr.,

Here are 100 books that Children of the Great Depression fans have personally recommended if you like Children of the Great Depression. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

Jay Belsky Author Of The Origins of You: How Childhood Shapes Later Life

From my list on development from childhood to middle age.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was almost by accident that I became who I turned out to be as a professional, a developmental scientist interested in how early-life experiences shape who we become. Had someone asked me when I graduated from high school what were the chances of me becoming a scientist and teacher, I would have answered “zero, zero”! During my now 40+ year academic career I've come to appreciate how complex the many forces are that shape who we become. There's no nature without nurture and no nurture without nature. This emergent realization led me to learn about and study many aspects of developmental experience, like parenting and peer relations, and the role of genetics and evolution.

Jay's book list on development from childhood to middle age

Jay Belsky Why did Jay love this book?

This one does not follow children from childhood to adulthood, but rather reveals how 100s of years ago events occurred that radically changed who people interacted with, married and spent their lives relating to.

It is a bold, strikingly original, and epic account of how the co-evolution of psychology and culture created the peculiar Western mind that profoundly shaped the modern world. While Nature matters, what this volume made clear to me is how “big Nurture”, meaning cultural practices, have changed over the past 1,000 years and the dramatic implications of such change for the world we live in today.

By Joseph Henrich,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The WEIRDest People in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A landmark in social thought. Henrich may go down as the most influential social scientist of the first half of the twenty-first century' MATTHEW SYED

Do you identify yourself by your profession or achievements, rather than your family network? Do you cultivate your unique attributes and goals? If so, perhaps you are WEIRD: raised in a society that is Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic.

Unlike most who have ever lived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, nonconformist, analytical and control-oriented. How did WEIRD populations become so psychologically peculiar? What part did these differences play in our history, and what do…


Book cover of Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection

Jay Belsky Author Of The Origins of You: How Childhood Shapes Later Life

From my list on development from childhood to middle age.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was almost by accident that I became who I turned out to be as a professional, a developmental scientist interested in how early-life experiences shape who we become. Had someone asked me when I graduated from high school what were the chances of me becoming a scientist and teacher, I would have answered “zero, zero”! During my now 40+ year academic career I've come to appreciate how complex the many forces are that shape who we become. There's no nature without nurture and no nurture without nature. This emergent realization led me to learn about and study many aspects of developmental experience, like parenting and peer relations, and the role of genetics and evolution.

Jay's book list on development from childhood to middle age

Jay Belsky Why did Jay love this book?

Given my interests in nature and nurture, what I find especially fascinating is “the nature of nurture”. By this I mean how Darwinian natural selection has shaped the way our species rears its children and the effects such care has on them.

This book by a world-famous anthropologist beautifully, informative, and insightfully reveals how evolution has made us who we are as parents, people capable of unconditional love but by no means always dispensing it, sometimes the exact opposite—and why that is the case.

By Sarah Blaffer Hrdy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mother Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A History of Mothers, Infants and Natural Selection


Book cover of The Development of the Person: The Minnesota Study of Risk and Adaptation from Birth to Adulthood

Jay Belsky Author Of The Origins of You: How Childhood Shapes Later Life

From my list on development from childhood to middle age.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was almost by accident that I became who I turned out to be as a professional, a developmental scientist interested in how early-life experiences shape who we become. Had someone asked me when I graduated from high school what were the chances of me becoming a scientist and teacher, I would have answered “zero, zero”! During my now 40+ year academic career I've come to appreciate how complex the many forces are that shape who we become. There's no nature without nurture and no nurture without nature. This emergent realization led me to learn about and study many aspects of developmental experience, like parenting and peer relations, and the role of genetics and evolution.

Jay's book list on development from childhood to middle age

Jay Belsky Why did Jay love this book?

This book tells the story of the ground-breaking Minnesota Longitudinal Study, the first to document developmental effects of infant-mother attachment security/insecurity and so much more, a contribution to understanding that greatly shaped my own career.

The book shares discoveries which emerged in following more than 200 children growing up under high-risk conditions from birth to adulthood. In so doing it illuminates whether, how, and why early-life experiences foster problematic development or resilience in the face of adversity.

By L. Alan Sroufe, Byron Egeland, Elizabeth A. Carlson , W. Andrew Collins

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Development of the Person as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The definitive work on a groundbreaking study, this essential volume provides a coherent picture of the complexity of development from birth to adulthood. Explicated are both the methodology of the Minnesota study and its far-reaching contributions to understanding how we become who we are. The book marshals a vast body of data on the ways in which individuals' strengths and vulnerabilities are shaped by myriad influences, including early experiences, family and peer relationships throughout childhood and adolescence, variations in child characteristics and abilities, and socioeconomic conditions. Implications for clinical intervention and prevention are also addressed. Rigorously documented and clearly presented,…


Book cover of Attachment: The Fundamental Questions

Jay Belsky Author Of The Origins of You: How Childhood Shapes Later Life

From my list on development from childhood to middle age.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was almost by accident that I became who I turned out to be as a professional, a developmental scientist interested in how early-life experiences shape who we become. Had someone asked me when I graduated from high school what were the chances of me becoming a scientist and teacher, I would have answered “zero, zero”! During my now 40+ year academic career I've come to appreciate how complex the many forces are that shape who we become. There's no nature without nurture and no nurture without nature. This emergent realization led me to learn about and study many aspects of developmental experience, like parenting and peer relations, and the role of genetics and evolution.

Jay's book list on development from childhood to middle age

Jay Belsky Why did Jay love this book?

How parenting—and other factorsshape infant-parent attachment security/insecurity and the effects of attachment on child, adolescent, and adult development has been the subject of extensive study for more than 4 decades.

This edited volume takes stock of what developmental scholars have learned as well as what challenges to attachment theory and research remain to be addressed. The contributors to this edited volume are all well-recognized experts in the field.

By Ross A. Thompson (editor), Jeffry A. Simpson (editor), Lisa J. Berlin (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Attachment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ongoing growth of attachment research has given rise to new perspectives on classic theoretical questions as well as fruitful new debates. This unique book identifies nine central questions facing the field and invites leading authorities to address them in 46 succinct chapters. Multiple perspectives are presented on what constitutes an attachment relationship, the best ways to measure attachment security, how internal working models operate, the importance of early attachment relationships for later behavior, challenges in cross-cultural research, how attachment-based interventions work, and more. The concluding chapter by the editors delineates points of convergence and divergence among the contributions and…


Book cover of Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds

Mark William Roche Author Of Why Choose the Liberal Arts?

From my list on books for students about to enter college.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a graduate of Williams College and Princeton University and now a professor and former dean of arts and letters at the University of Notre Dame. As dean, I learned that too many of Notre Dame’s students were majoring in business. Invariably, when I asked them about their rationale, they would confess that their favorite courses were in the arts and sciences. They might have followed their passions, I thought, if they and their parents had a deeper sense of the value of a liberal arts education, so I wrote this book to answer their questions and give them justified confidence in the value of liberal arts courses.  

Mark's book list on books for students about to enter college

Mark William Roche Why did Mark love this book?

I wish I could have read this book before I entered college.

Based on in-depth interviews with students at Harvard, Light’s well-written book offers superb academic and personal advice for students entering college and for faculty members who wish to help their students develop.

The book covers the full range of college experience and offers many counter-intuitive insights, including students’ enthusiasm for foreign-language classes, which tend to be small and offer students regular feedback. The anecdotes are, in turn, engaging, surprising, and helpful.

By Richard J. Light,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making the Most of College as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do some students make the most of college, while others struggle and look back on years of missed deadlines and missed opportunities? What choices can students make, and what can teachers and university leaders do, to improve more students' experiences and help them achieve the most from their time and money? Most important, how is the increasing diversity on campus-cultural, racial, and religious-affecting education? What can students and faculty do to benefit from differences, and even learn from the inevitable moments of misunderstanding and awkwardness?

From his ten years of interviews with Harvard seniors, Richard Light distills encouraging-and surprisingly…


Book cover of Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families

Dedeker Winston Author Of The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know about Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love

From my list on to figure out if polyamory is right for you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been practicing some flavor of non-monogamy for over a decade now—and how much has changed in the past few years! In my coaching practice, I’ve seen an increase in clients who are trying to evaluate what kind of relationship is best for them. Many people know that the traditional dating game and lifelong monogamy are not for them, but they also feel concerned, intimidated, or confused by exploring non-monogamy. These books have helped many of my clients get perspective on how non-monogamous relationships work in real life. 

Dedeker's book list on to figure out if polyamory is right for you

Dedeker Winston Why did Dedeker love this book?

Whenever I’m working with clients who are trying to figure out if polyamory is for them, I always recommend finding a way to connect to real-life polyamorous folks. It’s so important to hear genuine stories from a wide variety of perspectives—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Going to a local meetup group is the best way to do this, but reading this book comes in at a close second. Dr. Eli Sheff, a researcher who has conducted several longitudinal studies on polyamorous families, presents this compilation of personal stories from many different folks in non-monogamous families and networks. These stories span the range from hilarious to heartbreaking. 

Book cover of Adaptation to Life

Bruce Grierson Author Of What Makes Olga Run? The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us about Living Longer, Happier Lives

From my list on actually living before you die.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing the Olga book was a privilege in several senses. I got to hang out for five years with a remarkable human who kicked my butt (in the nicest possible way) and pulled me out of a midlife funk with the example of her indomitable spirit. Just as significantly, I got to delve deeply into the question of What makes some people almost … bulletproof? To what degree is healthy aging, well … a choice? This is really all a writer can ask for: to stumble on a subject that will never exhaust itself, that will just continue to open new angles. One way or another, I keep writing about Olga, and I suspect I always will.

Bruce's book list on actually living before you die

Bruce Grierson Why did Bruce love this book?

The retired Harvard psychiatrist shepherded the Grant Study of American men, one of the most robust longitudinal studies of humans ever done – basically examining the question: Why do some people live long and thrive? Here’s the science that confirms what everybody suspected, and I won’t tell you the answer but I think you can guess.

Vaillant is actually a pretty good writer too —which maybe isn’t surprising; literary chops are bred in the bone. George’s son, John Vaillant, is the mightly talented author of The Golden Spruce, among other books.

By George E. Vaillant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Adaptation to Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Between 1939 and 1942, one of America's leading universities recruited 268 of its healthiest and most promising undergraduates to participate in a revolutionary new study of the human life cycle. The originators of the program, which came to be known as the Grant Study, felt that medical research was too heavily weighted in the direction of disease, and their intent was to chart the ways in which a group of promising individuals coped with their lives over the course of many years.

Nearly forty years later, George E. Vaillant, director of the Study, took the measure of the Grant Study…


Book cover of Dirt: Growing Strong Roots in What Makes the Broken Beautiful

Sarah Loudin Thomas Author Of The Finder of Forgotten Things

From my list on making you feel like you’re in Almost Heaven, WV.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a seventh-generation West Virginian. My husband and I own the farm that’s been in my family since before the Civil War. My Appalachian roots are sunk deep, so when it comes to “writing what you know,” this is it! I was baptized in stories by my father who transformed my ancestors and my history into a living, breathing cast of characters I longed to meet. So, I began to write their stories in the guise of novels about made-up people. My seven novels (and two novellas) are love letters to the place that shaped me. 

Sarah's book list on making you feel like you’re in Almost Heaven, WV

Sarah Loudin Thomas Why did Sarah love this book?

Mary and I both grew up in West Virginia. And while her family life was rougher than mine, I recognize so many of the characters she writes about in her bittersweet memoir. This is Mary's story of trying to move past poverty, shame, and those doggone hillbilly stereotypes to discover who she really is. And in doing so, she reminds us all of who we are too—broken people trying to get the dirt out from under our fingernails before anyone sees. If you've ever struggled to embrace your roots, this is the book for you!

By Mary Marantz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dirt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dirt is a story about the places where we start. From a single-wide trailer in the mountains of rural West Virginia to the halls of Yale Law School, Mary Marantz's story is one of remembering our roots while turning our faces to the sky. From growing up in that trailer, where it rained just as hard inside as out and the smell of mildew hung thick in the air, Mary has known what it is to feel broken and disqualified because of the muddy scars leaving smudged fingerprints across our lives. Generations of her family lived and logged in those…


Book cover of On Gold Mountain: The 100-Year Odyssey of a Chinese-American Family

William F. Deverell Author Of Kathy Fiscus: A Tragedy That Transfixed the Nation

From my list on family in California.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the American West and a professor at the University of Southern California. I also direct the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. I love the way very smart and ambitious family histories illuminate the fascinating (or sometimes mundane) lives of people in the past and, at the same time, use those stories to help us understand bigger-picture issues, eras, and all the turbulence of American life. That little-girl-in-the-well book I wrote is the first time I’ve attempted family history. It was so hard to try to get it right but, at the same time, exhilarating to think that maybe I did.

William's book list on family in California

William F. Deverell Why did William love this book?

Richly woven history of immigration, family, and the California Dream as refracted through Chinese newcomers and their Chinese American descendants. The author has two very powerful tools at her disposal – penetrating historical sensibility and a great novelist’s ear for language. Across time and space, family stories, and passed-down memories endure. They all come together in this wonderful book in which California alternates between background and foreground through both hope and disappointment.

By Lisa See,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Gold Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Out of the stories heard in her childhood in Los Angeles's Chinatown and years of research, See has constructed this sweeping chronicle of her Chinese-American family, a work that takes in stories of racism and romance, entrepreneurial genius and domestic heartache, secret marriages and sibling rivalries, in a powerful history of two cultures meeting in a new world. 82 photos.


Book cover of China Men

Molly Patterson Author Of Rebellion

From my list on time-jumping with multiple protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved “big books,” novels that are described as sagas and chronicles yet whose primary focus is on singular, nuanced characters. I like seeing the ways that lives intersect and reflect each other across decades, and I enjoy being immersed in one world and then dropped, with the turn of a page, into another equally engrossing one. I am the author of the novel Rebellion as well as numerous short stories and essays. Raised in St. Louis, Missouri, I spent several years living in China and a year as the Writer-in-Residence at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. I now live in Wisconsin, where I write and teach creative writing.

Molly's book list on time-jumping with multiple protagonists

Molly Patterson Why did Molly love this book?

I first read Maxine Hong Kingston in college, but I can’t remember if I was assigned China Men or The Woman Warrior (the more famous counterpoint to China Men). All I know is that whichever one I read, I loved it so much that I immediately sought out the companion piece, which I also loved. In China Men, Kingston weaves together fiction and nonfiction, history and myth, story and memory. Is it a novel? A tapestry? I’m not quite sure what to call it, and that’s part of what I love about the book. Brief interludes of two or three pages present a single scene; longer stories narrate entire sagas. I love that this volume covers so much literal ground but ultimately feels incredibly personal.

By Maxine Hong Kingston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked China Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author chronicles the lives of three generations of Chinese men in America, woven from memory, myth and fact. Here's a storyteller's tale of what they endured in a strange new land.


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Interested in family, California, and the Great Depression?

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