18 books like The Privileged Poor

By Anthony Abraham Jack,

Here are 18 books that The Privileged Poor fans have personally recommended if you like The Privileged Poor. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Americanah

Nell Freudenberger Author Of The Limits

From my list on what it’s really like to be a teenage girl.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Los Angeles in the 80s and 90s. I was a shy teenager, an obsessive reader, and a secret writer.  I went to an all-girls high school where we wore uniforms, did a lot of homework, and mostly had no idea how to meet boys. The teen girls I encountered in movies, TV shows, and even literature were sexualized to the point of being unrecognizable to me. Now that I work with teenagers (and am a mom to one), I’m fascinated by the variability of girls this age, their wide-ranging intelligence, passions, and ways of being in the world. I love novels that reflect that complexity.

Nell's book list on what it’s really like to be a teenage girl

Nell Freudenberger Why did Nell love this book?

This book is the best love story I’ve read, full stop. There’s nothing like the first time you fall in love, and Ifemelu and Obinze’s relationship reminded me of that feeling—its paralyzing awkwardness and overwhelming joy.

Before I read this book, I’d never thought about what it must be like for immigrants from Africa to encounter (and enter) the long and tortured story of race in America for the first time, and the novel gave me a lot to think about on that score. I also love a novel that takes me somewhere I’ve never been, and the scenes of contemporary Lagos, where Ifemelu and Obinze are reunited, come alive in Adichie’s precise and brilliant description. 

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Americanah as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introducing the Collins Modern Classics, a series featuring some of the most significant books of recent times, books that shed light on the human experience - classics which will endure for generations to come.

How easy it was to lie to strangers, to create with strangers the versions of our lives we imagined.

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria. Self-assured Ifemelu heads for America. But quiet, thoughtful Obinze finds post-9/11 America closed to him, and plunges into a dangerous undocumented life in London.

Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria,…

Book cover of The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger

Sam Pizzigati Author Of The Case for a Maximum Wage

From my list on why we need a world without billionaires.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in the 1950s next door to Long Island’s iconic Levittown. All my aunts and uncles lived in similar modest suburbs, and I assumed everyone else did, too. Maybe that explains why America’s sharp economic U-turn in the 1970s so rubbed me the wrong way. We had become, in the mid-20th century, the first major nation where most people—after paying their monthly bills—had money left over. Today we rate as the world’s most unequal major nation. Our richest 0.1 percent hold as much wealth as our bottom 90 percent. I’ve been working with the Institute for Public Studies, as co-editor of Inequality.org, to change all that.

Sam's book list on why we need a world without billionaires

Sam Pizzigati Why did Sam love this book?

The British epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have an American doctor friend who has a fascinating exercise for his first-year medical school students.

This doctor asks his students to write a speech detailing why the USA has the world’s best health. The students eagerly set about collecting all the relevant data and quickly find themselves absolutely shocked. Among major developed nations, the USA turns out to have the worst health.

Americans also turn out to be up to ten times more likely than people in other developed nations to get murdered or become drug addicts. What’s going on here? Inequality!

The more wealth concentrates at a society’s summit, Wilkinson and Pickett vividly show in this 2009 classic, the worse that society performs on the yardsticks that define basic health and decency. 

By Richard Wilkinson, Kate Pickett,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Spirit Level as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Groundbreaking analysis showing that greater economic equality-not greater wealth-is the mark of the most successful societies, and offering new ways to achieve it.

"Get your hands on this book."-Bill Moyers

This groundbreaking book, based on thirty years' research, demonstrates that more unequal societies are bad for almost everyone within them-the well-off and the poor. The remarkable data the book lays out and the measures it uses are like a spirit level which we can hold up to compare different societies. The differences revealed, even between rich market democracies, are striking. Almost every modern social and environmental problem-ill health, lack of…

Book cover of The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality

Guido Alfani Author Of As Gods Among Men: A History of the Rich in the West

From my list on the rich, the super-rich, and wealth inequality in general.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was a student, I have been fascinated with social and economic inequality–the more so because back then, my professors seemed to disregard this subject of study. So, I made it one of my own main areas of research: I simply needed to understand more about the nature and the causes of inequality in human societies. In recent years, I have been busy researching economic inequality in different historical settings, also looking at specific socioeconomic strata. I began with the poor, and more recently, I focused on the rich. In my list of recommendations, I included books that, I believe, are particularly insightful concerning wealth and the wealthy.

Guido's book list on the rich, the super-rich, and wealth inequality in general

Guido Alfani Why did Guido love this book?

I have always loved Branko Milanović’s way of addressing complex topics in a very accessible and usually highly original way.

In this book, Milanović pays much attention to the rich and the super-rich and devises a way of comparing their wealth across the ages by asking this simple question: how much labour could they command in their own historical period and socio-economic context?

So, for example, Marcus Licinius Crassus, the richest Roman of Caesar’s times, could, with the yearly income from his vast possessions, command the work of 32,000 people. But, as Milanović argues, today’s super-rich are richer than past ones–circa 2010, the richest person in the world was the telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim, who could command the work of 440,000 Mexicans.

By Branko Milanovic,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Haves and the Have-Nots as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who is the richest person in the world, ever? Does where you were born affect how much money you'll earn over a lifetime? How would we know? Why- beyond the idle curiosity- do these questions even matter? In The Haves and the Have-Nots , Branko Milanovic, one of the world's leading experts on wealth, poverty, and the gap that separates them, explains these and other mysteries of how wealth is unevenly spread throughout our world, now and through time. Milanovic uses history, literature and stories straight out of today's newspapers, to discuss one of the major divisions in our social…

Book cover of Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class

D. Sánchez-Ancochea Author Of The Costs of Inequality in Latin America: Lessons and Warnings for the Rest of the World

From my list on inequality as one of our significant challenges.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a political economist committed to building a better world for all. In my academic work, I explore the obstacles to human flourishing and the best policies to promote more equitable development. The growing concentration of wealth among a small elite have become one of our most significant challenges to create better societies. In a growing number of countries, the wealthy control more than a third of all the income generated every year, contributing to social discontent and reducing the opportunities for the majority. I want to convince everyone out there about the urgency of understanding why inequality takes place, why it is costly and how we can fight against it is.

D.'s book list on inequality as one of our significant challenges

D. Sánchez-Ancochea Why did D. love this book?

Frank is, in my view, one of the most engaging writers on inequality. 

He has developed interesting insights like the “winner takes-all society”: the idea that we live in a world in which a small group of people reaps most of the benefits in all markets from sports to music or academia. 

In Falling Behind, Frank shows how inequality does not only harm the poor but the middle class as well.

I like how he combines economic data with many examples to show how consumption patterns among the wealthy lead to an “expenditure cascades” that force the middle class to borrow too much money and consume more than it should. 

The book is a reminder that inequality must be explored from many dimensions and its solution will require a lot of creativity.

By Robert Frank,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although middle-income families don't earn much more than they did several decades ago, they are buying bigger cars, houses, and appliances. To pay for them, they spend more than they earn and carry record levels of debt. In a book that explores the very meaning of happiness and prosperity in America today, Robert Frank explains how increased concentrations of income and wealth at the top of the economic pyramid have set off "expenditure cascades" that raise the cost of achieving many basic goals for the middle class. Writing in lively prose for a general audience, Frank employs up-to-date economic data…

Book cover of Moving Up without Losing Your Way: The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility

Richard E. Boyatzis Author Of Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth

From my list on building leadership skills through models.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professor and scientist, using my Intentional Change Theory (ICT), I have studied sustained desired change of individuals, teams, organizations, communities, and countries since 1967. I have authored more than 200 articles and 9 books on leadership, competencies, emotional intelligence, competency development, coaching, neuroscience, and management education (including the international best-seller, Primal Leadership with Daniel Goleman and Annie McKee and the recent Helping People Change with Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten). I run several Coursera MOOCs, including Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence which has over a million enrolled from 215 countries.

Richard's book list on building leadership skills through models

Richard E. Boyatzis Why did Richard love this book?

Like most countries of the world, the US is built on waves and steady immigration. As one of the few countries where upward mobility is possible, and economic prosperity abounds, we have been a magnet for immigrants wanting a better life for themselves and their children. Professor Morton extends the challenges of marginality, social class, as well as ethnic and racial and gender prejudice to the experience of modern day immigrants. Her stories and research reflect the experience any of us have had as immigrants or children of them. She also explains how the cultural and identity changes needed to go beyond surviving to thriving often involve letting go of previous parts of ourselves and identities.

By Jennifer Morton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moving Up without Losing Your Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ethical and emotional tolls paid by disadvantaged college students seeking upward mobility and what educators can do to help these students flourish

Upward mobility through the path of higher education has been an article of faith for generations of working-class, low-income, and immigrant college students. While we know this path usually entails financial sacrifices and hard work, very little attention has been paid to the deep personal compromises such students have to make as they enter worlds vastly different from their own. Measuring the true cost of higher education for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, Moving Up without Losing Your…

Book cover of Community as Rebellion: A Syllabus for Surviving Academia as a Woman of Color

Cathy N. Davidson and Christina Katopodis Author Of The New College Classroom

From my list on inspiring lifelong learning.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are two college-level educators, one has had a long career, one a recent PhD. We share a commitment to lifelong learning, not just in the classroom but beyond. And we love learning from one another. We wrote The New College Classroom together during the pandemic, meeting over Zoom twice a week, discussing books by other educators, writing and revising and rewriting every word together, finding ways to think about improving our students’ lives for a better future even as the world seemed grim. The books we cherish share those values: hope, belief in the next generation, and a deep commitment to learning even in—especially in—the grimmest of times.

Christina's book list on inspiring lifelong learning

Cathy N. Davidson and Christina Katopodis Why did Christina love this book?

Peña’s book began as a letter written to students and it remains a powerful offering of love as well as a call to rebel and resist oppression. The book’s “Course Requirements” include: an open heart and mind; “The desire to be part of the sum, rather than a single part”; and patience—to make room for humility, to unlearn and relearn, to make mistakes, to become resilient in order to do more than rebel once but to actually light the fire within to be rebellious as a practice. This book inspires us to continue fighting for justice and change, and to sustain our communities to keep the light of hope in a better future burning.

By Lorgia García Peña,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A meditation on freedom making in the academy for women scholars of color.

Weaving personal narrative with political analysis, Community as Rebellion offers a meditation on creating liberatory spaces for students and faculty of color within academia. Much like other women scholars of color, Lorgia Garcia Pena has struggled against the colonizing, racializing, classist, and unequal structures that perpetuate systemic violence within universities. Through personal experiences and analytical reflections, the author invites readers-in particular Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian women-to engage in liberatory practices of boycott, abolition, and radical community-building to combat the academic world's tokenizing and exploitative structures.


Book cover of Beyond Retention: Cultivating Spaces of Equity, Justice, and Fairness for Women of Color in U.S. Higher Education

Marilyn K. Easter Author Of Resilience: Bravery in the Face of Racism, Corruption, and Privilege in the halls of Academia

From my list on empowerment and hope.

Why am I passionate about this?

As with many people, my life has been full of twists and turns. I know what it means to be an outsider and to be cast aside as though my voice and presence doesn’t matter. But, with grit and determination, I battled systemic racism head-on, and with my good L.U.C.K (labor under correct knowledge), encouragement, and faith, I am thriving in an environment that was designed to be non-inclusive for People of Color. Currently, I am the only Black female professor in the 94-year history in the college where I am employed.

Marilyn's book list on empowerment and hope

Marilyn K. Easter Why did Marilyn love this book?

Beyond Retention is a non-fiction title that has the same narrative as my novel Resilience. Through various stories of lived experience, this title brings to light all the issues of race and gender inequality in higher institutions. What makes this book special is that it doesn't focus only on faculty but deals with administrators as well. Every woman who is interested in a career in academia should have and read Beyond Retention, as it offers ways through which one can thrive and not just survive in higher education.

By Brenda L. H. Marina (editor), Sabrina N. Ross (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Beyond Retention: Cultivating Spaces of Equity, Fairness, and Justice for Women of Color in U.S. Higher Education, Brenda Marina and Sabrina N. Ross address the continued underrepresentation of women faculty of color at predominantly White colleges and universities through a creative convergence of scholarship focused on intellectual activism and structural change. Inspired by the African American oral tradition of call and response, this text illuminates the calls, or personal narratives of women faculty of color who identify racialized, gendered, sexualized, and class-based challenges associated with work in predominantly White institutions. Accounts of social justice-oriented strategies, policies, and practices that…

Book cover of Degrees of Equality: Abolitionist Colleges and the Politics of Race

Frank J. Cirillo Author Of The Abolitionist Civil War: Immediatists and the Struggle to Transform the Union

From my list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent many a night growing up glued to the television, watching Ken Burns’ Civil War. But as I got older, I found my interests stretching beyond the battles and melancholic music on the screen. I decided to become a historian of abolitionism–the radical reform movement that fought to end the evils of slavery and racial prejudice. Through my research, I seek to explain the substantial influence of the abolitionist movement as well as its significant limitations. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 2017, and have since held positions at such institutions as The New School, the University of Bonn, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Frank's book list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America

Frank J. Cirillo Why did Frank love this book?

This book does a fantastic job of illustrating something that I explore in my own work: pro-slavery (and anti-Black) white Americans were not the only obstacles facing abolitionists in the fight for racial equality.

The abolitionist movement itself was often divided along racial lines. Black abolitionists pushed for radical, egalitarian change in all aspects of American life. When push came to shove, however, many of their white counterparts had a limit as to how far they would go.

Bell shows how this dynamic played out at progressive colleges like Oberlin before, during, and after the Civil War. The implications of this book, however, stretch far beyond those campuses–and far beyond that time.

By John Frederick Bell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The abolitionist movement not only helped bring an end to slavery in the United States but also inspired the large-scale admission of African Americans to the country's colleges and universities. Oberlin College changed the face of American higher education in 1835 when it began enrolling students irrespective of race and sex. Camaraderie among races flourished at the Ohio institution and at two other leading abolitionist colleges, Berea in Kentucky and New York Central, where Black and white students allied in the fight for emancipation and civil rights. After Reconstruction, however, color lines emerged on even the most progressive campuses. For…

Book cover of How Schools Really Matter: Why Our Assumption about Schools and Inequality Is Mostly Wrong

Nate G. Hilger Author Of The Parent Trap: How to Stop Overloading Parents and Fix Our Inequality Crisis

From my list on how self-help isn't a magic parenting solution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an economist fascinated by the ways that early opportunities shape lifelong success. My interests go way back to the big public schools I attended in Southern California, where I watched some kids benefit from tutoring, counseling, coaching, and other private resources that most kids couldn’t access. I went on to get a PhD in economics, then taught at Brown University and advised Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign on child development policy. After years of research and teaching – and becoming a dad myself – I wrote The Parent Trap to expose the monumental challenges facing so many parents and the solutions most likely to make a difference.

Nate's book list on how self-help isn't a magic parenting solution

Nate G. Hilger Why did Nate love this book?

I discovered this book after struggling to convince skeptics that schools are by far the most equal part of childhood, not the bastions of inequality most people believe based on misleading news articles and (great) books like Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol. I didn’t seem to make much progress no matter how much data I showed people, so I found it cathartic to hear a top sociologist work through this exact problem in a different way. The book is rigorous but the author writes in a plainspoken, wry style that keeps things lightweight. I already agreed with him and he still greatly enriched my perspective. 

By Douglas B. Downey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Schools Really Matter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Most of us assume that public schools in America are unequal--that the quality of the education varies with the location of the school and that as a result, children learn more in the schools that serve mostly rich, white kids than in the schools serving mostly poor, black kids. But it turns out that this common assumption is misplaced. As Douglas B. Downey shows in How Schools Really Matter, achievement gaps have very little to do with what goes on in our schools. Not only do schools not exacerbate inequality in skills, they actually help to level the playing field.…

Book cover of Five Practices for Equity-Focused School Leadership

Decoteau J. Irby Author Of Stuck Improving: Racial Equity and School Leadership

From my list on equity-focused school reform for educators.

Why am I passionate about this?

Every teacher from pre-Kindergarten to higher education, who has experienced and understands what it means to be committed to equity and to practice transformation but still not see the kinds of outcomes expected, needed, or deserved among students of color. These students of color, particularly Black and Brown students, tend to be grossly underserved in and through the educational system. Decoteau Irby amplifies the humanity of those young people and situates them in the context of suburbia, an understudied place and space among Black and Brown communities. 

Decoteau's book list on equity-focused school reform for educators

Decoteau J. Irby Why did Decoteau love this book?

This book provides the most comprehensive but succinct explanation of all the key elements that are required to lead to equity in a school.

It has everything from the beginning key concepts that someone would need to understand in the beginning to concrete practices that someone should be doing. 

By Sharon I. Radd, Gretchen Givens Generett, Mark Anthony Gooden , George Theoharis

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Five Practices for Equity-Focused School Leadership as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This timely and essential book provides a comprehensive guide for school leaders who desire to engage their school communities in transformative systemic change. Sharon I. Radd, Gretchen Givens Generett, Mark Anthony Gooden, and George Theoharis offer five practices to increase educational equity and eliminate marginalization based on race, disability, socioeconomics, language, gender and sexual identity, and religion. For each dimension of diversity, the authors provide background information for understanding the current realities in schools and beyond, and they suggest "disruptive practices" to replace the status quo in order to achieve full inclusion and educational excellence for every child.

Assuming that…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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