The most recommended pop culture books

Who picked these books? Meet our 150 experts.

150 authors created a book list connected to pop culture, and here are their favorite pop culture books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of pop culture book?

Loading...
Loading...

Book cover of The Mental Game of Poker 2: Proven Strategies For Improving Poker Skill, Increasing Mental Endurance, and Playing In The Zone Consistently

Alton Hardin Author Of Essential Poker Math, Expanded Edition: Fundamental No Limit Hold'em Mathematics You Need To Know

From my list on poker every serious poker play should read.

Who am I?

I’m the founder and lead instructor at MicroGrinder Poker School, arguably, the most prominent micro stakes poker school, and I’m fascinated by poker. I started playing poker as a hobby, and it soon became an obsession. I delved into poker theory, seeking to understand the game’s nuances. And as my game improved, I wanted to share my success with others. I’ve always been passionate about teaching, so I started MicroGrinder Poker School. Between my best-selling poker books and 35+ courses, I’ve helped over 80,000 poker players improve their poker game drastically.

Alton's book list on poker every serious poker play should read

Alton Hardin Why did Alton love this book?

If you’re a serious poker player, I’m assuming you’ve already read The Mental Game of Poker. If you haven’t, definitely read it. And if you have, it’s time to read The Mental Game of Poker 2. Jared Tendler’s books are the go-to poker psychology and mental games books. Ask any poker player on the most popular poker forums, and just about everyone will recommend Jared’s books. The Mental Game of Poker 2 builds on the first book by focusing on mental topics such as mental endurance and playing in the zone—things every serious poker player should be actively working on.

By Jared Tendler, Barry Carter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mental Game of Poker 2 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Imagine the edge you would have if you could consistently play poker in the zone. In the zone you make all the right decisions, instinctively when to bluff, and are unfazed by a losing hand. You’re locked in and feel unbeatable.

It’s shocking how many poker players stumble into this elusive state of mind. As quickly as that euphoric feeling of invincibility arrives, it's gone. And no matter how hard they try, they can’t get back there. Until now.

In The Mental Game of Poker 2, author and renowned poker mental game coach Jared Tendler breaks down the zone and…


Book cover of Engaging the Past: Mass Culture and the Production of Historical Knowledge

Rebecca Weeks Author Of History by HBO: Televising the American Past

From my list on history on screen.

Who am I?

I am a film buff and history nerd who has brought her two passions together in the study of history on screen. So much of what we know is shaped by what we watch. It is crucial that we don’t dismiss historical TV shows and films as mere entertainment and instead work to understand how history is constructed and represented on screen. I have spent my postgraduate career exploring the screen’s unique capabilities for telling historical stories. I received my PhD from the University of Auckland and currently teach film studies at Media Design School, Aotearoa’s leading digital creativity tertiary provider. 

Rebecca's book list on history on screen

Rebecca Weeks Why did Rebecca love this book?

As indicated by the title, Landsberg’s book considers not just historical feature films, but alternative forms of screened history including TV serials, reality TV shows, and websites. Each chapter includes concise yet compelling case studies of texts such as Hotel Rwanda, Mad Men, and Frontier House. Unsurprisingly—given the focus of my own book—I was drawn to the section on dramatic TV shows and her discussion and definition of “historically conscious dramas.” Landsberg meticulously explains how audiences engage with the past through mass culture and, unlike many history on film scholars, pays considerable attention to the formal elements of filmmaking such as sound and editing.  

By Alison Landsberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Reading films, television dramas, reality shows, and virtual exhibits, among other popular texts, Engaging the Past examines the making and meaning of history for everyday viewers. Contemporary media can encourage complex interactions with the past that have far-reaching consequences for history and politics. Viewers experience these representations personally, cognitively, and bodily, but, as this book reveals, not just by identifying with the characters portrayed. Some of the works considered in this volume include the films Hotel Rwanda (2004), Good Night and Good Luck (2005), and Milk (2008); the television dramas Deadwood, Mad Men, and Rome; the reality shows Frontier House,…


Book cover of City at the Edge of Forever: Los Angeles Reimagined

María Amparo Escandón Author Of L.A. Weather

From my list on changing your perception of Los Angeles.

Who am I?

I am a creature of habitat. I can’t help but connect with my environment in every possible way. It’s physical, emotional. I spent the first 23 years of my life in Mexico City. Leaving was heart-wrenching, but the promise to fulfill a dream drew me to Los Angeles. During the next four decades I became a student of Los Angeles and the Latino community that populates it. I agree with Randy Newman: I love L.A. 

María's book list on changing your perception of Los Angeles

María Amparo Escandón Why did María love this book?

I fell in love with Los Angeles in 1983 when I immigrated from Mexico, young, penniless, and ignorant, to start an ad agency for the Latinx community. As the years went by, I succeeded in the business, raised a family, and wrote three novels. It is after you read a book like Peter Lunenfeld’s that you understand why such an improbable story like mine could ever materialize. As in the movies, L.A. is not what it seems. Go behind the scenes with City at the Edge of Forever, Los Angeles Reimagined and debunk some myths.

By Peter Lunenfeld,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked City at the Edge of Forever as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An engaging account of the uniquely creative spirit and bustling cultural ecology of contemporary Los Angeles

How did Los Angeles start the 20th century as a dusty frontier town and end up a century later as one of the globe's supercities - with unparalleled cultural, economic, and technological reach? In City at the Edge of Forever, Peter Lunenfeld constructs an urban portrait, layer by layer, from serendipitous affinities, historical anomalies, and uncanny correspondences. In its pages, modernist architecture and lifestyle capitalism come together via a surfer girl named Gidget; Joan Didion's yellow Corvette is the brainchild of a car-crazy Japanese-American…


Book cover of Melt With You

T. Torrest Author Of Remember When

From my list on romance that flashes back to the 1980s and 90s.

Who am I?

I was a teenager in the 80s (with the big-hair pictures to prove it) and a chain-smoking, bar-hopping, flannel-clad twenty-something in the 90s. I remember everything about those days. Because my brain is basically a pop culture museum, most of my books are nostalgic, geared toward Gen X, and heavily influenced by the John Hughes films from my youth. My novels are always written with humor, heart, and heat… and more than a little sarcasm. Then again, I’m a lifelong Jersey girl, so that might go without saying. I love reading stories with fun, gorgeous heroes and smart, vibrant heroines… so that’s what I write.

T.'s book list on romance that flashes back to the 1980s and 90s

T. Torrest Why did T. love this book?

Like, omigod! What a blast from the past! This adorable teen romance takes place in 1984 in southern California. It was a totally awesome 80s flashback that reminded me of Pretty in Pink (never a bad thing, amirite?). Granted, I felt that too many of the pop culture references were awkwardly crowbarred into the narrative, but it was still a fun ride nonetheless. I love stories like this, ones where the average girl lands the school’s most popular guy. Throw in a makeover, and I’m one-clicking every time. Does that make me shallow? I don’t care. Plots like that always give good butterflies, and MWY is no exception. If you’re looking for a totally rad romance that won’t gag you with a spoon, Melt With You will like, totally stoke your 1980s heart.

By Addison Moore,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Addison Moore: Love the '80s? Miss big hair, rad music, and leg warmers? Take a step back in time with Melt with You (A Totally '80s Romance). It’s like totally awesome.September 1984 Junior year is really shaping up to be something. After three years of trying, I finally made the cheer squad. And on the last day of summer practice the demigod of Glen Heights High, Joel Effing Miller, finally notices me—right after he runs me over and lands my leg in a cast. Yeah, junior year is really shaping up to be something.…


Book cover of Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused

Mark Yarm Author Of Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge

From my list on oral history about art, music, TV, and movies.

Who am I?

I am currently the features editor at Input, a website about tech and culture. Earlier in my career, I worked at the now-defunct music magazine Blender, for which I wrote an oral history of Sub Pop, the Seattle label that put out early records by the likes of Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney. That article was the basis of my book for Everybody Loves Our Town. I’m also a widely published freelancer, with pieces in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Wired, WSJ. Magazine, Rolling Stone, and many other outlets.

Mark's book list on oral history about art, music, TV, and movies

Mark Yarm Why did Mark love this book?

Dazed and Confused, Richard Linklater’s plot-light, pot-heavy 1993 film about Texas teens hanging out on the last day of school in 1976, is perhaps my favorite movie ever, so I was already inclined to love this oral history about the film’s creation and legacy. Maerz expertly weaves the voices of almost everyone involved in the project from breakout star Matthew McConaughey to members of the crew — to create a highly entertaining, super-compelling look at a stoner cinema classic.

By Melissa Maerz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Melissa Maerz's brilliant oral history is the definitive account of a cult-classic movie that took a slow ride into the Seventies and defined the Nineties." -Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone

The definitive oral history of the cult classic Dazed and Confused, featuring behind-the-scenes stories from the cast, crew, and Oscar-nominated director Richard Linklater.

Dazed and Confused not only heralded the arrival of filmmaker Richard Linklater, it introduced a cast of unknowns who would become the next generation of movie stars. Embraced as a cultural touchstone, the 1993 film would also make Matthew McConaughey's famous phrase-alright, alright, alright-ubiquitous. But it started with…


Book cover of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

Keith L. Downing Author Of Gradient Expectations: Structure, Origins, and Synthesis of Predictive Neural Networks

From my list on to keep an AI researcher awake at night.

Who am I?

I've been working in the field of AI for 40 years, first in graduate school and then as a professor. For the most part, I have had my head in the sand, focusing on the minutiae that occasionally lead to publications, the coins of the academic realm. When deep learning started exhibiting human-level pattern recognition abilities, the number of AI books for the general public began to swell.  Unfortunately, the science-fiction scenarios were a bit much. Since understanding, recognizing, and admitting problems are vital steps toward a solution, I find these books to be the most important warnings of the impending tech-dominated future.

Keith's book list on to keep an AI researcher awake at night

Keith L. Downing Why did Keith love this book?

This book is very long, and somewhat redundant at times. But it’s extremely interesting…and chilling. 

Zuboff cites a wide variety of examples of how companies, Google foremost among them, gather information about us (legally or illegally) and then use it not only to predict our behavior, but to control it as well. That’s the really scary part.

The writing can be a bit too poetic at times, but Zuboff displays an incredible breadth and depth of knowledge on this subject. I’m a slow reader, so this one took me a while to get through, but it was time well spent.

By Shoshana Zuboff,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Age of Surveillance Capitalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE TOP 10 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

'Everyone needs to read this book as an act of digital self-defense.' -- Naomi Klein, Author of No Logo, the Shock Doctrine, This Changes Everything and No is Not Enough

The challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, the first detailed examination of the unprecedented form of power called "surveillance capitalism," and the quest by powerful corporations to predict and control us.

The heady optimism of the Internet's early days is gone. Technologies that were meant to liberate us have deepened inequality and stoked divisions. Tech companies gather our information online and sell…


Book cover of K-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher from 2004 - 2016

Nick Prior Author Of Popular Music, Digital Technology and Society

From my list on popular music, technology, and society.

Who am I?

I’m a Professor of Cultural Sociology at Edinburgh, UK, and have written extensively on contemporary culture and particularly technological mediations of popular music. I have undertaken empirical research on cultures of popular music in places like Iceland, Japan, and the UK, and I have supervised around 25 doctoral students to successful completion. My work is widely cited in the field of cultural sociology, and I am regularly interviewed by national broadcasters and the press. I’m also an amateur musician, making homespun electronic music in my bedroom and releasing it under the monikers Sponge Monkeys and Triviax.

Nick's book list on popular music, technology, and society

Nick Prior Why did Nick love this book?

This is a collection of essays by Fisher that originally comprised his K-Punk blog and that I return to again and again.

Fisher has a unique voice, a kind of critical conscience for the times that navigates the complexities of what he called "capitalist realism" through the lens of popular culture. These essays are the reason I got into bands on the Ghost Box label, like Pye Corner Audio, The Advisory Circle, and Belbury Poly. They speak to a loss of promised futures in a political context that has increasingly emptied out hope.

I find Fisher’s diagnosis of the culture of late capitalism to be the most compelling out there. His critique of “retro” bands like The Arctic Monkeys is scathing, while his writings on “hauntological” culture are ground-breaking. I’m a big fan of Burial, and Fisher’s reflections on the post-rave come-down are spot on.

Be warned: the collection can…

By Mark Fisher, Darren Ambrose (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Edited by Darren Ambrose and with a foreword by Simon Reynolds, this comprehensive collection brings together the work of acclaimed blogger, writer, political activist and lecturer Mark Fisher (aka k-punk). Covering the period 2004 - 2016, the collection will include some of the best writings from his seminal blog k-punk; a selection of his brilliantly insightful film, television and music reviews; his key writings on politics, activism, precarity, hauntology, mental health and popular modernism for numerous websites and magazines; his final unfinished introduction to his planned work on "Acid Communism"; and a number of important interviews from the last decade.


Book cover of Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media

Susan Bordo Author Of TV

From my list on popular culture.

Who am I?

I was born in 1947, in the first wave of the baby boom, and was part of the first generation to grow up immersed in television, movies, and popular music. I have always felt the force of pop culture in my life.  But it was only at a certain point that it became something that I felt I could write about and be taken seriously. Writers like Pauline Kael made it possible for me because they obviously adored popular culture but they neither puffed it up nor dumbed it down. They wrote about it with intelligence, honesty, and curiosity and also as a barometer of where people were at and where society was going. That’s what I’ve aimed at in my own writing, from my books on the male and female body to those on politics and the media to my most recent exploration of the impact of television on our lives.

Susan's book list on popular culture

Susan Bordo Why did Susan love this book?

Where the Girls Are is about a particular generation of women growing up in post War America, and the impact popular media had on their lives, both for good and for bad. It weaves wonderfully smart, often funny, always engagingly written discussions of pop music, movies, and television shows with Douglas’s own experiences at the time. It’s unabashedly feminist—but it isn’t a speech or a political manifesto. It’s an exploration of the push-pull of growing up female at a transitional time, a time in which attitudes toward women were changing, unevenly, and how pop culture reflected the tensions of the times. This book is history, memoir, sociology, media studies, all at once – immensely informative and very entertaining.

By Susan J. Douglas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Media critic Douglas deconstructs the ambiguous messages sent to American women via TV programs, popular music, advertising, and nightly news reporting over the last 40 years, and fathoms their influence on her own life and the lives of her contemporaries. Photos.


Book cover of The Horror Movie Night Cookbook: 60 Deliciously Deadly Recipes Inspired by Iconic Slashers, Zombie Films, Psychological Thrillers, Sci-Fi Spooks, and More

Bridget Thoreson Author Of The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook For Kids: 50 Fun and Easy Recipes for Tricks, Treats, and Spooky Eats Inspired by the Halloween Classic

From my list on pop culture cookbooks for fans of just about anything.

Who am I?

I am a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. My books include The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook, XOXO: A Cocktail Book, and consulting for Are You My Wine? Clearly, I am very interested in drinking, eating, and pop culture. When we started talking about a follow-up project for The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook, my mind first went to my daughter Beatrice. I was excited for the day when she could watch the movie with me and share a part of my own life as a kid. I knew that many other millennial parents probably felt the same way, and so I knew I wanted to do a book that would enhance that experience. 

Bridget's book list on pop culture cookbooks for fans of just about anything

Bridget Thoreson Why did Bridget love this book?

If you like the horror movie genre, you’re going to love this book!

The author covers a ton of classic horror movies like Psycho, Jaws, Scream, and more and writes recipe intros that are super clever and full of excellent movie references.

One thing that I really like about this cookbook is that the author includes a dish and a drink for every movie and also puts in some fun suggestions for games to play while you watch!

By Richard S. Sargent, Nevyana Dimitrova (photographer),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Horror Movie Night Cookbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Slay movie night with frighteningly delicious food and cocktail creations inspired by your favorite scary movies, perfect for fans of spooky season and movie buffs alike!

If you're looking for kitschy Pinterest recipes like coffin-shaped cookies or zombie finger sandwiches, look elsewhere. With The Horror Movie Night Cookbook, you’ll enjoy thoughtful and tasty food and cocktail pairings inspired by the actual content of chilling classics like Jaws, Psycho, Scream, The Conjuring, The Evil Dead, Halloween, and more of horror’s most frightening favorites! Inside you’ll find recipes like:
Crawling Steak (Poltergeist) Campfire Sour (The Blair Witch Project) Zombie Baby Kale Salad…


Book cover of Throwback

Nancy McCabe Author Of Vaulting Through Time

From my list on contemporary young adult on time traveling teens.

Who am I?

I've always been obsessed with time travel, which transcends science fiction and offers ways to experience and reinterpret history, explore philosophical ideas, comment on the past, and imagine the future. I love the possibilities for humor and character development and plot twists across every genre and audience. One feature of all of the books I’ve chosen for this list is that they’re about contemporary young people and grounded in real lives, and time travel happens in all sorts of ways: through magical, mysterious forces, an app, tap shoes, a diary, a rideshare vehicle. I’m less interested in imaginary worlds and more fascinated by the way time travel can shed light on our own times.

Nancy's book list on contemporary young adult on time traveling teens

Nancy McCabe Why did Nancy love this book?

This book was released a couple of days before my list was due, but I was captivated by the description of it as “Back to the Future meets Joy Luck Club.And Throwback engaged me immediately.

I sped through the story of Samantha Kang who, unable to connect to her mom and worried about her grandmother’s health, finds herself thrown back from 2025 to 1995. There, she gets to know her teenage mom and her grandmother in a whole new way.

The contrasts between the post-pandemic gender-fluid TikTok generation and the regressive attitudes of the analog 1990s are brilliantly highlighted, Sam’s social-media savvy voice pitch-perfect, her observations about race, class, gender, pop culture, and being the child and grandchild of immigrants incisive and provocative, humorous and relatable.

I was glad I waited for this novel before I completed my list!

By Maurene Goo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Throwback as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

"No one can blend family, humor, satire, and love into a single perfect story like Maurene Goo can . . ." - Marie Lu, No.1 New York Times bestselling author

Samantha Kang has always butted heads with her mom, Priscilla, who is a first-generation Korean American, a former high school cheerleader and expects Sam to want the same all-American nightmare. Meanwhile, Sam is a girl of the times who has no energy for cliched high school aspirations. After a huge fight, Sam is desperate to get away from Priscilla, but instead, finds herself thrown back. Way back.

To her shock,…