Tag Archives: Sociology

The Narcissism Epidemic

Title: The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

Authors: Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell

Publisher: Free Press, April 2009

Summary: This fascinating (and disturbing) book focuses on what the authors feel is an alarming rise in narcissistic behavior in the United States. They argue that narcissists, long thought to behave in ways to cover up their lack of self-esteem, are in fact overflowing with self-regard, and that the emphasis placed on self-esteem training for young children and in schools has contributed to a culture where entitlement is rampant, and everyone really believes that they are so special that rules do not apply to them.

In describing the consequences this upswing in narcissism has for schools (cheating and grade inflation,) the workplace (young adults taking their parents into the office for performance reviews,) the economy (McMansions, debt, and the mortgage crisis,) culture (celebutants and Web 2.0) and the environment (SUVs and global warming,) Twenge (author of Generation Me) and Campbell paint a very upsetting picture. While some of their arguments might be a little far-fetched, you can pick and choose what chapters interest you.

All in all this is a book that will make you think twice when you see a baby dressed in a t-shirt that says “I’m the Boss.”

Who will like this book: General non-fiction readers and people with an interest in psychology and culture. If the world seems to you a little ruder and more competitive lately, this book is for you.

If you like this, try this: For more on celebrity narcissism, try The Mirror Effect by Drew Pinsky.  For more on Milennials in the workplace, look for The Trophy Kids Grow Up by Ron Alsop. And for the effects of this cultural shift on girls and young women, read Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Gang Leader for a Day

Title: Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

Author: Sudhir Venkatesh

Publisher: Penguin Press, January 2008

Summary:Beginning his graduate work at the University of Chicago, Sudhir Venkatesh wished to study the urban poor. When he went to the projects to survey residents (First question: “How does it feel to be black and poor?”) he is held hostage by the Black Kings, a drug dealing gang, for several hours. Undeterred, Venkatesh returned to the projects and formed a remarkable friendship with J.T., the charismatic leader of the gang.

For seven years, this alliance allowed Venkatesh access into the inner workings of gang life, the drug trade, and what it takes to survive in the projects. He meets college graduates who return to the projects because dealing is more lucrative than legitimate work, tenant leaders who run their buildings like kingdoms, and squatters working the angles to survive in an environment where you can’t count on the police or social services to protect you, and constant hustling is the name of the game.

Who will like this book?: People interested in sociology, particularly stories about inner city life.

If you like this, try this: Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. Life on the Outside by Jennifer Gonnerman.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Unthinkable

Title: The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why

Author: Amanda Ripley

Publisher: Crown, June 2008

Summary: Ever wonder how you would react in a real emergency? You will keep asking that question throughout this interesting non-fiction book on surviving disasters. The author analyzes behavior in several disastrous situations to try and determine who survives – and why. The answers may surprise you.

Who will like this book?: Readers who are interested in human behavior.

If you like this, try this: Brain Rules by John Medina

Recommended by: Barb, Reference Librarian.