The most recommended books about equality

Who picked these books? Meet our 61 experts.

61 authors created a book list connected to equality, and here are their favorite equality books.
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Book cover of Men and Development: Politicizing Masculinities

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Author Of Masculinities in Forests: Representations of Diversity

From my list on diverse masculinities.

Who am I?

I began studying women’s lives in college (1960s), but recently realized that I (like others) passed myself off as a gender specialist, but had been ignoring men’s roles, beliefs, and behaviour in gender dynamics. I was put off by the studies that too consistently showed men as always violent and controlling. Many studies emphasized men at war, men abusing women, and gay men with HIV/AIDS; there seemed no recognition of positive masculine traits. Recognizing also that men had different ideals about their own masculinity in different places, I examined men’s lives among international elites and in communities in the US, Sumatra, and Indonesia, where I’d done ethnographic research. 

Carol's book list on diverse masculinities

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Why did Carol love this book?

This is one of the early books to counter the more common view of a ‘hegemonic masculinity’ that applied to all men. Instead, its 17 chapters provide examples of diverse forms of masculinity – in terms of both ideals and practice from every continent. I particularly appreciated this book for this reason. It reinforced my sense (and evidence) that masculinities vary from place to place and time to time, and it served as an impetus to write my own book on the subject.

By Andrea Cornwall (editor), Jerker Edstrom (editor), Alan Greig (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A wide-ranging volume featuring contributions from some of today's leading thinkers and practitioners in the field of men, masculinities and development.

Together, contributors challenge the neglect of the structural dimensions of patriarchal power relations in current development policy and practice, and the failure to adequately engage with the effects of inequitable sex and gender orders on both men's and women's lives.

The book calls for renewed engagement in efforts to challenge and change stereotypes of men, to dismantle the structural barriers to gender equality, and to mobilize men to build new alliances with women's movements and other movements for social…

Book cover of How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America

Mary E. Stuckey Author Of Deplorable: The Worst Presidential Campaigns from Jefferson to Trump

From my list on why American politics are terrible and what to do.

Who am I?

I believe in democracy. I think the US has the opportunity to be the world’s first multicultural and inclusive democracy. And I think that’s a very, very hard thing to do. I’ve been writing about democracy through the lens of presidential history my whole career, and I think the US has done some things so impressively well while at the same time it frustratingly keeps failing to live up to its own ideals. The tensions and contradictions in our history as we try to expand and enact those ideas are endlessly fascinating. And I’m nervous that we may be seeing the end of a national commitment to democracy. 

Mary's book list on why American politics are terrible and what to do

Mary E. Stuckey Why did Mary love this book?

She’s a super-smart Civil War historian, and this book does something I haven’t seen in a lot of Civil War books—it shows how important the West was to the way the US developed after the Civil War—it wasn’t just that the nation expanded, but she writes about how both the North and South relied on racial hierarchies, and she centers Native Americans, which I think is a really important part of that story.

By Heather Cox Richardson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How the South Won the Civil War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this provocative new work, Heather Cox Richardson argues that while the North won the Civil War, ending slavery, oligarchy, and giving the country a "new birth of freedom," the victory was short-lived. Settlers from the East pushed into the West, where the seizure of Mexican lands at the end of the Mexican-American War and treatment of Native Americans cemented racial hierarchies. The Old South found a new home in the West. Both depended on extractive
industries-cotton in the former and mining, cattle, and oil in the latter-giving rise to a white ruling elite, one that thrived despite the abolition…

Book cover of $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America

Sharon Farmer Author Of Surviving Poverty in Medieval Paris: Gender, Ideology, and the Daily Lives of the Poor

From my list on the culture of France and medieval modern poverty.

Who am I?

I started out as a religion major in college, but soon became frustrated with the abstract thoughts of privileged white males. I wanted to understand the passions and struggles of ordinary people, and soon became convinced that the examination of the distant past sheds important light on the present. It’s not that I don’t care about the world around me right now. Rather, I am convinced that those who look only at this decade, this century, or even the last century fail to recognize some of the most powerful cultural forces that have shaped our most fundamental understandings of gender, wealth, poverty, work, and so much more.

Sharon's book list on the culture of France and medieval modern poverty

Sharon Farmer Why did Sharon love this book?

We can’t understand the present unless we understand the past, but the reverse is also true: I would not be a good historian of medieval poverty – including all the layers of infrastructure, production, famine, religious ideology, and public policy that define, ameliorate and exacerbate poverty – if I did not also pay attention to how these forces work in the present, and to the actual lives of the people who are so affected. This book paints some of the best portraits I’ve seen of people who were trying to make ends meet during the first two decades of the twenty-first century. We now need a book on how and why the poverty landscape continues to change in the wake of the covid epidemic. 

By Kathryn J. Edin, H. Luke Shaefer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked $2.00 a Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
The story of a kind of poverty in America so deep that we, as a country, don't even think exists—from a leading national poverty expert who “defies convention.” (The New York Times)
Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no income if she didn’t donate plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter, Brianna, in Chicago, often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends.
After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen before—households…

Book cover of Tales of Two Planets: Stories of Climate Change and Inequality in a Divided World

Bathsheba Demuth Author Of Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait

From my list on humans and their relationship with nature.

Who am I?

Bathsheba Demuth is a historian and prize-winning writer, interested in how people, ideas, places, and other-than-human species intersect in the far north. Her interest in these subjects began when she was 18 and spent several years in the Yukon, mushing huskies, hunting caribou, fishing for salmon, and otherwise learning to survive in the taiga and tundra. Now, when not in the Arctic, she lives in Rhode Island, where she is a professor at Brown University.

Bathsheba's book list on humans and their relationship with nature

Bathsheba Demuth Why did Bathsheba love this book?

Any discussion of how people and nature relate to each other in the twenty-first century will come up against the issue of climate change. And there are so many good books to read on the topic – Elizabeth Rush’s Rising comes right to mind, or the collection All We Can Save, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson. What Tale of Two Planets offers is a global perspective on rising seas, changing seasons, and damaging weather through genres from poetry to prose to fiction. Each author brings clarity to the science and politics of climate change, but the sections here are also portraits of love for place and community. If you’ve never read a book on climate change before, it’s a great start; if you’ve read them all, there’s something new and beautiful here.

By John Freeman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Building from his acclaimed anthology Tales of Two Americas, beloved writer and editor John Freeman draws together a group of our greatest writers from around the world to help us see how the environmental crisis is hitting some of the most vulnerable communities where they live.

In the past five years, John Freeman, previously editor of Granta, has launched a celebrated international literary magazine, Freeman's, and compiled two acclaimed anthologies that deal with income inequality as it is experienced. In the course of this work, one major theme came up repeatedly: Climate change is making already dire inequalities much worse,…

Book cover of Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress Toward Racial Equality

Douglas S. Massey Author Of American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass

From my list on how neighborhoods perpetuate inequality.

Who am I?

My mother was the child of immigrants from Finland with grade-school educations who grew up in a small Alaskan town with no roads in or out. She came down to the “lower 48” during the Second World War to work her way through the University of Washington, where she met my father. He was a multigenerational American with two college-educated parents. His mother graduated from Whitman College in 1919 and looked down on my mother as a child of poorly educated immigrants. She was also openly hostile toward Catholics, Blacks, and Jews and probably didn’t think much of Finns either. Witnessing my grandmother’s disdain for minorities and the poor including my mother, I learned about racism and class prejudice firsthand. But I am my mother’s son, and I resented my grandmother’s self-satisfied posturing. Therefore I’ve always been on the side of the underdog and made it my business to learn all that I could about how inequalities are produced and perpetuated in the United States, and to do all I can to make the world a fairer, more egalitarian place.

Douglas' book list on how neighborhoods perpetuate inequality

Douglas S. Massey Why did Douglas love this book?

Pat Sharkey draws on a rich longitudinal dataset (the Panel Study of Income Dynamics) that follows individuals and households over decades and keeps track of them as they change, move, and form new households. He uses it to show that Black Americans are unique in the degree to which they are confined to poor and disadvantaged neighborhoods across time and the generations, and how neighborhood disadvantage works so powerfully to perpetuate poverty and stymie upward mobility.

By Patrick Sharkey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the 1960s, many believed that the civil rights movement's successes would foster a new era of racial equality in America. Four decades later, the degree of racial inequality has barely changed. To understand what went wrong, Patrick Sharkey argues that we have to understand what has happened to African American communities over the last several decades. In "Stuck in Place", Sharkey describes how political decisions and social policies have led to severe disinvestment from black neighborhoods, persistent segregation, declining economic opportunities, and a growing link between African American communities and the criminal justice system. As a result, neighborhood inequality…

Book cover of All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership

Kim Imas Author Of Beast Mom

From my list on women and anger.

Who am I?

We talk a lot about the big public events that expanded the #MeToo movement so astronomically, like the election to the US presidency of a man who bragged about assaulting women, and the allegations made against Harvey Weinstein. But I think most American women have other, more personal beefs that originate from their being a woman. I, for one, was shocked at how unnecessarily difficult it was to be a new mother in the US. Other places support this vulnerable group much more than we do here, and living that disparity angered me—like, for example, when my husband exhausted what little parental leave he had available before our twins were even released from the NICU.

Kim's book list on women and anger

Kim Imas Why did Kim love this book?

In my book, the protagonist Harriet gets more and more pissed about a whole range of things, one being the fact that she’s got to do so much more than her husband Theo when it comes to the work of running their household.

In All the Rage, Darcy Lockman shows just how pervasive this reality is, and how deeply inconsistent it is with the worldviews of the women and men who find themselves stuck it. This mom-heavy imbalance of household labor is a breaking of a promise, in a way—one that so many of us went into our marriage with, and that remains an ongoing source of tension not only in my book but in homes across the US.

By Darcy Lockman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Why do men do so little at home? Why do women do so much? Why don't our egalitarian values match our lived experiences?

Journalist-turned-psychologist Darcy Lockman offers a clear-eyed look at the most pernicious problem facing modern parents-how progressive relationships become traditional ones when children are introduced into the household.

In an era of seemingly unprecedented feminist activism, enlightenment, and change, data shows that one area of gender inequality stubbornly persists: the disproportionate amount of parental work that falls to women, no matter their background, class, or professional status. All the Rage investigates the cause of this pervasive inequity to…

Book cover of The Equality Machine: Harnessing Digital Technology for a Brighter, More Inclusive Future

Darren McKee Author Of Uncontrollable: The Threat of Artificial Superintelligence and the Race to Save the World

From my list on understanding how AI will shape our lives.

Who am I?

I'm an author, advisor, speaker, podcaster, and citizen concerned about humanity’s relationship with advanced artificial intelligence. After following developments in AI for many years, I noticed a disconnect between the rapid rate of progress in AI and the public’s understanding of what was happening. The AI issue affects everyone, so I want everyone to be empowered to learn more about how AI will have a large impact on their lives. As a senior policy advisor and a member of the Board of Advisors for Canada's leading safety and governance network, books such as these help me stay informed about the latest developments in advanced artificial intelligence. I hope my recommendations will help you to critically consider how humans should co-exist with this revolutionary technology.

Darren's book list on understanding how AI will shape our lives

Darren McKee Why did Darren love this book?

AI algorithms are increasingly used to decide what you see, if you’re hired, and who you match with socially or romantically.

There is much cause for concern because many of these algorithms are biased and return responses that indicate some degree of sexism or racism.

The main value of this book is that all those issues are recognized, but so is the notion that when an algorithm is biased, it is much easier to discover that and correct it than with a person.

Consequently, reforming algorithms likely presents a better option to reduce bias when people or things are sorted or assessed.

By Orly Lobel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Much has been written about the challenges tech presents to equality and democracy. But we can either criticize big data and automation or steer it to do better. Lobel makes a compelling argument that while we cannot stop technological development, we can direct its course according to our most fundamental values.

With provocative insights in every chapter, Lobel masterfully shows that digital technology frequently has a comparative advantage over humans in detecting discrimination, correcting historical exclusions, subverting long-standing stereotypes, and addressing the world's thorniest problems: climate, poverty, injustice, literacy, accessibility, speech, health, and safety.

Lobel's vivid examples-from labor markets to…

Book cover of What's Luck Got to Do with It? How Smarter Government Can Rescue the American Dream

Kimberly Clausing Author Of Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital

From my list on big economic policy debates.

Who am I?

I became an economist because I realized that economics was a powerful tool that would help society solve vexing problems. While economics has limits, it has so much to offer in terms of better policy design for tackling everything from climate change to economic inequality. My life’s work has been devoted to both economic research and helping others understand the insights of economics. I spent many years in academia teaching economics and writing papers, and I authored Open in an attempt to make the complexities of international economics more transparent. I’ve also had the chance to work firsthand on some of these issues in the early part of the Biden Administration at the US Treasury.

Kimberly's book list on big economic policy debates

Kimberly Clausing Why did Kimberly love this book?

Ed Kleinbard was a treasured colleague, a brilliant commentator, and a giant in the field of tax policy. In his final year of life, perhaps fittingly, Kleinbard devoted himself to a book on the role of luck in economic outcomes, which opens with a quote from Stendhal. “Waiting for God to reveal himself, I believe that his prime minister, Chance, governs this sad world just as well.” The book argues that luck, and particularly existential luck (to whom and in what circumstances you are born), are paramount in determining economic outcomes. Within that context, Kleinbard makes a strong case for the role of public insurance in areas like health care, education, and childcare; he also emphasizes the importance of a progressive income tax system. 

By Edward D. Kleinbard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What's Luck Got to Do with It? How Smarter Government Can Rescue the American Dream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The American dream of equal opportunity is in peril. America's economic inequality is shocking, poverty threatens to become a heritable condition, and our healthcare system is crumbling despite ever increasing costs.

In this thought-provoking book, Edward D. Kleinbard demonstrates how the failure to acknowledge the force of brute luck in our material lives exacerbates these crises - leading to warped policy choices that impede genuine equality of opportunity for many Americans. What's Luck Got to Do with It? combines insights from economics, philosophy, and social psychology to argue for government's proper role in addressing the inequity of brute luck. Kleinbard…

Book cover of Black Wealth / White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality

Beverly Moran Author Of Race and Wealth Disparities: A Multidisciplinary Discourse

From my list on understanding critical race theory.

Who am I?

Every author writing about race and tax in the United States uses my article with William Whitford, “A Black Critique of the Internal Revenue Code.” Using census data, Bill and I showed that blacks and whites who earn the same income, live in the same geographic areas, have the same education and marital status, pay different amounts of federal income tax because of the race and wealth disparities outlined in Race and Wealth Disparities: A Multidisciplinary Discourse edited by Beverly Moran. 

Beverly's book list on understanding critical race theory

Beverly Moran Why did Beverly love this book?

This is the book that showed us that income inequality is just the tip of the iceberg of race inequality in the United States. True, blacks earn less than whites, but they also own less than whites. Much less. The difference is staggering and the cause of many other ills, especially the difficulty that many black families have in the face of any economic disaster.

By Melvin Oliver, Thomas M. Shapiro,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Wealth / White Wealth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The award-winning Black Wealth / White Wealth offers a powerful portrait of racial inequality based on an analysis of private wealth. Melvin Oliver and Thomas Shapiro's groundbreaking research analyzes wealth - total assets and debts rather than income alone - to uncover deep and persistent racial inequality in America, and they show how public policies have failed to redress the problem.

First published in 1995, Black Wealth / White Wealth is considered a classic exploration of race and inequality. It provided, for the first time, systematic empirical evidence that explained the racial inequality gap between blacks and whites. The Tenth…

Book cover of The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future

Dennis W. Johnson Author Of American Public Policy: Federal Domestic Policy Achievements and Failures, 1901 to 2022

From my list on understanding public policy challenges and failures.

Who am I?

Much of my academic work has been focused on American domestic public policy. Previously, I wrote a ground-breaking book called The Laws that Shaped America, which focused on 15 key laws in American history. My latest book, American Public Policy: Federal Domestic Policy Achievements and Failures, 1901 to 2022, focuses on what we have accomplished, but even more importantly on what we have failed to do. And, boy, do we have work to do: inequality, climate change, immigration, racial injustice, gun violence, drug addiction, and more. I’m passionate about what good government can accomplish, and, like so many, sadden by what we have failed to accomplish.

Dennis' book list on understanding public policy challenges and failures

Dennis W. Johnson Why did Dennis love this book?

This Nobel Prize-winning economist gets right to the heart of America’s problems: the growing divide between the rich and the rest of society.

We can see the toll declines in the standard of living have taken: malnutrition, drug abuse, shortened life expectancy, lack of access to much-needed health care, desperation and increased economic insecurity among the poor and a shrinking middle class in America.

Stiglitz convincingly shows how Federal Reserve policies, budgetary policies of Congress, and globalization have increased the widening gap, but also offers hope for a more economically just future.

By Joseph E. Stiglitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The top 1 percent of Americans control some 40 percent of the nation's wealth. But as Joseph E. Stiglitz explains in this best-selling critique of the economic status quo, this level of inequality is not inevitable. Rather, in recent years well-heeled interests have compounded their wealth by stifling true, dynamic capitalism and making America no longer the land of opportunity that it once was. They have made America the most unequal advanced industrial country while crippling growth, distorting key policy debates, and fomenting a divided society. Stiglitz not only shows how and why America's inequality is bad for our economy…