100 books like Habits of the Heart

By Robert N. Bellah,

Here are 100 books that Habits of the Heart fans have personally recommended if you like Habits of the Heart. 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 End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America

June Carolyn Erlick Author Of A Gringa in Bogotá: Living Colombia's Invisible War

From my list on classics for understanding Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I accidentally fell in love with Latin America, a love that has lasted my lifetime. When I was young, I lived in a Dominican neighborhood in New York, learning Spanish from my neighbors. After I graduated from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism I got a job covering the Cuban community in New Jersey because I spoke Spanish. Eventually I ended up living in Colombia and then Managua as a foreign correspondent. Now I edit a magazine at Harvard about Latin America. It's not just the news that interests me; I love the cadence of the language, the smell and taste of its varied cuisine, the warmth of the people, the culture, and, yes, soccer.

June's book list on classics for understanding Latin America

June Carolyn Erlick Why did June love this book?

Greg Grandin is a historian's historian, a brilliant researcher, a captivating writer. It's honestly hard to pick which of his books to feature here. But since The End of the Myth won the Pultizer Prize, I'll choose it as my favorite. What I loved about this book is that it gives me a new perspective about the history of my own country—about which, frankly, I do not know that much—and the region I have reported on for most of my life, Latin America. He makes connections and does so in a compelling fashion.

The book focuses on the United States and the border, but it sheds much light on how the myth of manifest destiny has shaped the way we think of ourselves and our relationship with our southern neighbors.

By Greg Grandin,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The End of the Myth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

A new and eye-opening interpretation of the meaning of the frontier, from early westward expansion to Trump’s border wall.

Ever since this nation’s inception, the idea of an open and ever-expanding frontier has been central to American identity. Symbolizing a future of endless promise, it was the foundation of the United States’ belief in itself as an exceptional nation – democratic, individualistic, forward-looking. Today, though, America hasa new symbol: the border wall.

In The End of the Myth, acclaimed historian Greg Grandin explores the meaning of the frontier throughout the full sweep of U.S. history…


Book cover of Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy

Gerard A. Hauser Author Of Vernacular Voices: The Rhetoric of Publics and Public Spheres

From my list on why ordinary citizen voices matter to a democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the grandson of a political refugee. My grandfather was a gunrunner in the Greek resistance to Turkish occupation of Chios prior to the 1st Balkan War. His guerilla activity placed his life in danger. He fled pursuit by the Turks, which led to his eventual emigration to the United States. From childhood my family experience was of lively discussions that were inflected by my grandfather’s experience of resistance and US citizenship. They sparked my fascination with the role of citizen voices in a democracy. That was a main focus of my academic career, teaching rhetoric for more than 40 years at Penn State University and the University of Colorado Boulder.

Gerard's book list on why ordinary citizen voices matter to a democracy

Gerard A. Hauser Why did Gerard love this book?

Putnam and his Italian colleagues studied the performance of Italy’s regional governments over a 20-year period. They asked why some democratic governments succeeded while others failed. They thought differences in success would correlate with a region’s economic vitality. Instead, they found that a strong civic community was a better indicator of success. When citizens sought information from reliable news sources, they tended to interact with one another on political matters.  Informed interaction encouraged trust in political dialogue and encouraged engagement in public affairs. 

Equally, when citizens had access to networks of secondary associations, where they interacted with strangers, they were more likely to have a greater sense of solidarity with, and trust and tolerance for their fellow citizens. When these conditions were absent and social relations were more vertical (relying on a leader) than horizontal (relying on community members), democracy didn’t work. Making Democracy Work shows how vernacular rhetoric that…

By Robert D. Putnam, Robert Leonardi, Raffaella Y. Nanetti

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Why do some democratic governments succeed and others fail? In a book that has received attention from policymakers and civic activists in America and around the world, Robert Putnam and his collaborators offer empirical evidence for the importance of "civic community" in developing successful institutions. Their focus is on a unique experiment begun in 1970 when Italy created new governments for each of its regions. After spending two decades analyzing the efficacy of these governments in such fields as agriculture, housing, and health services, they reveal patterns of associationism, trust, and cooperation that facilitate good governance and economic prosperity.


Book cover of Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts

William Clare Roberts Author Of Marx's Inferno: The Political Theory of Capital

From my list on understanding how power works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a teacher, a student, and a reader by trade (that is, a university professor), and I spend most of my time trying to understand social and political power: why some people have it, and others don’t, how it circulates and changes (gradually or suddenly), why it sometimes oppresses us and sometimes liberates, how it can be created and destroyed. I mostly do this by reading and teaching the history of political theory, which I am lucky enough to do at McGill University, in conversation and cooperation with some wonderful colleagues.

William's book list on understanding how power works

William Clare Roberts Why did William love this book?

I think Scott is one of the most creative social scientists working today, and this book is probably his strongest work.

Scott flips the script and focuses attention on the strategies subordinates use to navigate and deal with the power of their social superiors. He has great faith in the abilities of ordinary people to mock and hoodwink the powerful and to create for themselves little refuges from kings, bosses, and overlords.

I go back to this book all the time because it is a treasure trove of wonderful anecdotes, too.

By James C. Scott,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Domination and the Arts of Resistance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A splendid study, surely one of the most important that has appeared on the whole matter of power and resistance."-Natalie Zemon Davis

Confrontations between the powerless and powerful are laden with deception-the powerless feign deference and the powerful subtly assert their mastery. Peasants, serfs, untouchables, slaves, laborers, and prisoners are not free to speak their minds in the presence of power. These subordinate groups instead create a secret discourse that represents a critique of power spoken behind the backs of the dominant. At the same time, the powerful also develop a private dialogue about practices and goals of their rule…


Book cover of Challenges of Ordinary Democracy: A Case Study in Deliberation and Dissent

Gerard A. Hauser Author Of Vernacular Voices: The Rhetoric of Publics and Public Spheres

From my list on why ordinary citizen voices matter to a democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the grandson of a political refugee. My grandfather was a gunrunner in the Greek resistance to Turkish occupation of Chios prior to the 1st Balkan War. His guerilla activity placed his life in danger. He fled pursuit by the Turks, which led to his eventual emigration to the United States. From childhood my family experience was of lively discussions that were inflected by my grandfather’s experience of resistance and US citizenship. They sparked my fascination with the role of citizen voices in a democracy. That was a main focus of my academic career, teaching rhetoric for more than 40 years at Penn State University and the University of Colorado Boulder.

Gerard's book list on why ordinary citizen voices matter to a democracy

Gerard A. Hauser Why did Gerard love this book?

Perhaps the most widespread engagement by ordinary citizens in political relations is with the education of their children. School boards are increasingly regarded as a site of passionate political contest over what our children will learn, especially when it comes to learning history and its consequences for their understanding of their community and nation. Challenges of Ordinary Democracy reports on three years in the life of a local school board. The voices of administrators, teachers, parents, and the press are examined when dissent takes center stage in the school board’s deliberations. Given that ordinary citizens will disagree, often vehemently, Tracy asks us to consider the parameters of reasonable hostility and why reasonable hostility is important for the voices of ordinary citizens to matter in deciding issues that affect their lives.  

By Karen Tracy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Is there any place in America where passionate debate plays a more vital role in democratic discourse than local school board meetings? Karen Tracy conducted a thirty-five-month study of the board meetings of the Boulder Valley School District between 1996 and 1999 to analyze just how democracy operates in practice. In Challenges of Ordinary Democracy, she reveals the major role that emotion plays in real-life debate and discerns value in what might easily be seen as negative forms of discourse-voicing platitudes, making contradictory assertions, arguing over a document's wording, speaking angrily, attacking a person's character. By illuminating this one arena…


Book cover of The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism

Erwin Dekker Author Of The Viennese Students of Civilization: The Meaning and Context of Austrian Economics Reconsidered

From my list on cultural knowledge to understand the economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and economist who is fascinated by the intersection of the economy and culture. This started for me with the idea that economic ideas were shaped by the cultural context in which they emerged, which resulted in my book on the Viennese Students. Over time it has expanded to an interest for the markets for the arts from music to the visual arts, as well as the way in which culture and morality influence economic dynamism. Economics and the humanities are frequently believed to be at odds with each other, but I hope to inspire a meaningful conversation between them.

Erwin's book list on cultural knowledge to understand the economy

Erwin Dekker Why did Erwin love this book?

Perhaps Max Weber’s book on the Protestant Ethic should be on my list. But I prefer this book by sociologist Campbell which is at least as bold in its argument. It takes a fresh look at consumption and suggests that modern consumption draws on human imagination, a desire for novelty, and experimentation. Like Weber, Campbell traces the historical roots of modern economic action, and he does so by suggesting that Romanticism was not a hostile reaction to capitalism, but the imaginative counterpart to the productive revolution of the eighteenth century. As such Romanticism facilitated the Industrial Revolution and made the modern economy possible. Campbell does not explore this, but I think of the Romantic Ethic as the cultural background for the subjective theory of value in economics.

By Colin Campbell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1987, Colin Campbell's classic treatise on the sociology of consumption has become one of the most widely cited texts in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, and the history of ideas. In the thirty years since its publication, The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism has lost none of its impact. If anything, the growing commodification of society, the increased attention to consumer studies and marketing, and the ever-proliferating range of purchasable goods and services have made Campbell's rereading of Weber more urgent still. As Campbell uncovers how and why a consumer-oriented society emerged from a Europe…


Book cover of The Fountainhead

Luis de Miranda Author Of Philosophical Health: A Practical Introduction

From my list on improving your philosophical health.

Why am I passionate about this?

Choosing philosophy at 18 raised a few eyebrows: friends and family thought I was a bit mad and a little lost. Later, when I decided to write philosophical stories and essays, I heard the same refrain: “Most people are afraid of philosophy.” But those voices never swayed me. Deep down, I knew that thinking is a powerful tool for healing, a way to mend what’s broken within us and in the world. Ideas, I believe, can spark change and make the world a better place.

Luis' book list on improving your philosophical health

Luis de Miranda Why did Luis love this book?

This book is like a forbidden fruit, tempting and dangerous. But it came to my rescue when I’d lost sight of my own dreams for a little while. Sure, Ayn Rand’s philosophy has many simplistic flaws, but in this novel, she channels a Nietzschean spirit that jolts you awake. It was a call to never forget to embrace my ambition and to continue to forge my own writing path even when readers seem indifferent.

In a world full of compromises, there’s power in refusing to settle for less than your own extraordinary potential.

By Ayn Rand,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Fountainhead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It

Anthony Biglan Author Of Rebooting Capitalism: How We Can Forge a Society That Works for Everyone

From my list on to find out what we can do to fix the USA.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my career studying how we can make our world more nurturing for every person. We can build a society that ensures that every child has the skills, interests, values, and health habits they need to lead a productive life in caring relationships with others. I created Values to Action to make this a reality in communities around the world. We have more than 200 members across the country who are working together to reform our society so that it has less poverty, economic inequality, discrimination, and many more happy and thriving families. 

Anthony's book list on to find out what we can do to fix the USA

Anthony Biglan Why did Anthony love this book?

Robert Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett provide an analysis of the past 125 years of American history that makes a significant contribution to the growing movement to reform American Society. They carefully analyze trends in American life in a way that delineates the tangle of problems we are currently experiencing while at the same time offering hope that we can overcome them. The essence of their analysis is that across a wide variety of societal indicators, the past century and a quarter has involved an upswing in prosocial or communitarian norms and practices, beginning in the progressive era of the early twentieth century. That was followed by a reversal toward less communitarian and more individualistic and self-centered norms and practices.

By Robert D. Putnam,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The most important book in social science for many years' Paul Collier, TLS Books of the Year

The Upswing is Robert D. Putnam's brilliant analysis of economic, social, cultural and political trends from the Gilded Age to the present, showing how America went from an individualistic 'I' society to a more communitarian 'We' society and then back again, and how we can all learn from that experience.

In the late nineteenth century, America was highly individualistic, starkly unequal, fiercely polarised and deeply fragmented, just as it is today. However, as the twentieth century dawned, America became - slowly, unevenly, but…


Book cover of In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong

Uzi Rabi Author Of The Return of the Past: State, Identity, and Society in the Post-Arab Spring Middle East

From my list on political identity and divisions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. My interest lies in modern history and evolution of states and societies in the Middle East: Iranian- Arab relations, oil and politics, and Sunni- Shi’i dynamics. It is a particularly important period in time for the Middle East as there is a changing paradigm of geopolitics in the region. During the course of the last decade, we have seen repercussions of the Arab Spring, withdrawal of US troops from the region and signing of the Abraham Accords. I follow these developments and frequently provide expert commentary and analysis in various forums. 

Uzi's book list on political identity and divisions

Uzi Rabi Why did Uzi love this book?

In the Name of Identity challenges our thinking about how we decide who we are as individuals, as groups and what makes us behave as we do with each other.

Maalouf addresses the dangers of defining people solely on a singular component of their identity rather than their identity as a whole. He examines his own identity, and acknowledges that it is complex.

He is Arab and Christian, both Lebanese and French. Yet his identity is more than the aggregate of these components. He urges the reader to avoid generalizing based on a singular component of one’s identity and convincingly argues how this can lead to violence.

Maalouf’s wisdom on how we use our identities to define ourselves against each other can help us understand how to avoid hatred and violence. 

By Amin Maalouf, Barbara Bray (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Name of Identity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Makes for compelling reading in America today.”—New York Times Book Review.

“I want to try and understand why so many people commit crimes in the name of identity,” writes Amin Maalouf. Identity is the crucible out of which we come: our background, our race, our gender, our tribal affiliations, our religion (or lack thereof), all go into making up who we are. All too often, however, the notion of identity—personal, religious, ethnic, or national—has given rise to heated passions and even massive crimes.

Moving across the world’s history, faiths, and politics, he argues against an oversimplified and hostile interpretation of…


Book cover of A Girl's Story

Catherine Cusset Author Of Life of David Hockney

From my list on by French women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a French novelist, the author of fifteen novels, many of which are memoirs, so I am considered a specialist of "autofiction" in France, of fiction written about oneself. But I also love writing about others, as you can see in my novel on David Hockney. Beauvoir, Sarraute and Ernaux were my models, Laurens and Appanah are my colleagues. Three of the books I picked would be called memoirs in the States, and the other two novels. In France, they are in the same category. All these women write beautifully about childhood and womanhood. I love their writing because it is both intimate and universal, full of emotion, but in a very sober and precise style. 

Catherine's book list on by French women

Catherine Cusset Why did Catherine love this book?

In A Girl’s Story Annie Ernaux – the author of many memoirs about her parents, her lower-class background, and her sexual life – revisits the summer when she was 18 and a summer camp counselor. For the first time away from home, she was so eager for love that she ended up pursuing a man who dumped and humiliated her. Ernaux has a unique way to find lost time again. She scrutinizes the past with such a precise scalpel that it allows us to identify with the lost young girl and to share her confusion and shame. 

By Annie Ernaux, Alison L. Strayer (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Girl's Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I too wanted to forget that girl. Really forget her, that is, stop yearning to write about her. Stop thinking that I have to write about this girl and her desire and madness, her idiocy and pride, her hunger and her blood that ceased to flow. I have never managed to do so.' In A Girl's Story, her latest book, Annie Ernaux revisits the summer of 1958, spent working as a holiday camp instructor in Normandy, and recounts the first night she spent with a man. When he moves on, she realizes she has submitted her will to his and…


Book cover of A Tract on Monetary Reform

Larry Allen Author Of The ABC-Clio World History Companion to Capitalism

From my list on seeing world history thru the lens of economics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up listening to my grandfathers tell stories about the Great Depression (1930s). My cousins would want me to go out and play, but I wanted to stay indoors and listen to the stories. The Depression proved my grandfathers were not the best cotton farmers, but they were good storytellers, and I ended up an economics professor. Along the way, I ran across a thought from renowned British philosopher Francis Bacon: “Histories make men wise, poets, witty, mathematics, subtle;” Modern economics has gone in for subtlety, and maybe is a little too careless of wisdom. This thought sent me delving deeper into economic history, and I ended up writing five books in economics history. 

Larry's book list on seeing world history thru the lens of economics

Larry Allen Why did Larry love this book?

This book is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in economics, overshadowed by Keynes’ more path-breaking General Theory, but oozing with wisdom on every page. Here Keynes transcends the bounds of economics. In his words: “It is one of the objects of this book to urge that the best way to cure this mortal disease of individualism is to provide there shall never exist any confident expectation either that prices are generally going to fall or that they are going to rise; and also that there shall be no serious risk that a movement, if it does occur, will be a big one.” Of course, inflation is the subject here. Its writing style alone elevates it above the commonplace. In this book, the reader finds the balance of practical judgment found in the best economists. 

By John Maynard Keynes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Tract on Monetary Reform as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book, is devoted to the need for stable currency as the essential foundation of a healthy world economy. Describing the various effects of unstable currency on investors, business people, and wage earners, Keynes recommends the implementation of policies that aim at achieving stability of the commodity value of the dollar rather than the gold value. Keynes's brilliant, clear analysis of the world monetary situation at the beginning of the twentieth century, with his many suggestions and his masterful elucidation of economic principles, stands as a vital primer for anyone interested in developing a better understanding of basic economics and…


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