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If you like Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

If you like Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
Vance, a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, provides an account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm. J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. Author of Hillbilly Elegy, J.A. Vance

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.'s grandparents were "dirt poor and in love," and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance's grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. (catalog summary)



Are you either waiting or finished with Hillbilly Elegy? Check out these similar titles to Vance's epic biography.

 

​Allegheny Front: The Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction Selected by Lydia Millet, authored by Matthew Neill NullAllegheny Front: The Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction Selected by Lydia Millet, authored by Matthew Neill Null
The deceptively powerful stories in Null's first collection, after his debut novel Honey from the Lion, create a map not only of the geography of rural West Virginia but also of its people. These are characters inhabiting places largely ignored by the outside world. In "Mates," a man kills an endangered bald eagle on his land, believing himself to be above the law, and is then stalked and tormented by the eagle's mate. In "Gauley Season," a group of ex-miners turn to operating rafting companies after their mining jobs disappear, but the promising new industry quickly leads to tragedy. The rugged lives of a group of log drivers in the late 1800s are chronicled in "The Slow Lean of Time." In the astonishing "Telemetry," a young scientist's camp on Back Allegheny Mountain is visited by a local man and his daughter, their presence forcing the scientist to confront her relationship to her own origins, which becomes a recurring theme in the collection. Violence is inevitable in these stories-guns are almost always present, and they aren't just decoration-but there is plenty of beauty, too. Landscape is an essential element, as well as the constant presence of wild animals, but Null focuses on the ways that a setting can shape how we identify with the world. The scope of the collection contains voices from multiple generations, and the result is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a distinctive region of North America, as well as an exercise in finding the universal in the particular. (catalog summary)
 


Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
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Coates takes readers along on his journey through America's history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings. Moments such as when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race; whether through his myth-busting professors at Howard University; a trip to a Civil War battlefield with a rogue historian; a journey to Chicago's South Side to visit aging survivors of 20th century America's "long war on black people"; or a visit with the mother of a beloved friend who was shot down by the police. (catalog summary)

 


Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers

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Short, but inspiring stories from women authors who grew up in the Appalachian culture. Winner of the 1997 Appalachian Studies Award; Appalachian Writers Association 1999 Book of the Year; Winner of the Susan Koppleman Award of the Popular Culture Association for Best Edited Collection in Women's Studies. (catalog summary)


 


Cades Cove: The Life and Death of A Southern Appalachian Community, 1818-1937 by Durwood Dunn

Cades Cove: The Life and Death of A Southern Appalachian Community, 1818-1937
by Durwood Dunn

Drawing on a rich trove of documents never before available to scholars, the author sketches the early pioneers, their daily lives, their beliefs, and their struggles to survive and prosper in this isolated mountain community, now within the confines of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In moving detail this book brings to life an isolated mountain community, its struggle to survive, and the tragedy of its demise. (catalog summary)

 


Closing Time: A Memoir by Joe Queenan


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Queenan's deeply funny and affecting memoir about his great escape from a childhood of poverty in a Philadelphia housing project in the early 1960s. (catalog summary)


 


Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew DesmondEvicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
The author takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. .Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America's vast inequality—and to people's determination and intelligence in the face of hardship. Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible. (catalog summary)
 


Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado
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by Linda Tirado

Linda Tirado, in her signature brutally honest yet personable voice, takes all of these preconceived notions and smashes them to bits. She articulates not only what it is to be working poor in America (yes, you can be poor and live in a house and have a job, even two), but what poverty is truly like-on all levels. In her thought-provoking voice, Tirado discusses how she went from lower-middle class, to sometimes middle class, to poor and everything in between, and in doing so reveals why "poor people don't always behave the way middle-class America thinks they should. (catalog summary)

 


Mountain People in A Flat Land: A Popular History of Appalachian Migration to Northeast Ohio, 1940-1965 by Carl E. Feather

Mountain People in A Flat Land: A Popular History of Appalachian Migration to Northeast Ohio, 1940-1965
by Carl E. Feather

In the early 1940s, $10 bought a bus ticket from Appalachia to a better job and promise of prosperity in the flatlands of northeast Ohio. A mountaineer with a strong back and will to work could find a job within twenty-four hours of arrival. But the cost of a bus ticket was more than a week's wages in a lumber camp, and the mountaineer paid dearly in loss of kin, culture, homeplace, and freedom. (catalog summary)

 


Running on Red Dog Road And Other Perils of An Appalachian Childhood by Drema Hall BerkheimerRunning on Red Dog Road And Other Perils of An Appalachian Childhood by Drema Hall Berkheimer
Gypsies, faith-healers, moonshiners, and snake handlers weave through Drema's childhood in 1940s Appalachia after her father is killed in the coal mines, her mother goes off to work as a Rosie the Riveter, and she is left in the care of devout Pentecostal grandparents. What follows is a spitfire of a memoir that reads like a novel with intrigue, sweeping emotion, and indisputable charm. Drema's coming of age is colored by tent revivals with Grandpa, poetry-writing hobos, and traveling carnivals, and through it all, she serves witness to a multi-generational family of saints and sinners whose lives defy the stereotypes. Just as she defies her own. Running On Red Dog Road is proof that truth is stranger than fiction, especially when it comes to life and faith in an Appalachian childhood. (catalog summary)
 


Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Hochschild
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
by Arlie Hochschild

In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country—a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets—among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident—people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children. (catalog summary)
 


Tales From A Free-range Childhood by Donald Davis


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White Trash: The 400-year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy IsenbergWhite Trash: The 400-year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement. Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America’s supposedly class-free society—where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early nineteenth century, and the Civil War itself was fought over class issues nearly as much as it was fought over slavery. Reconstruction pitted poor white trash against newly freed slaves, which factored in the rise of eugenics—a widely popular movement embraced by Theodore Roosevelt that targeted poor whites for sterilization. These poor were at the heart of New Deal reforms and LBJ’s Great Society; they haunt us in reality TV shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty. Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the character of the American identity. We acknowledge racial injustice as an ugly stain on our nation’s history. With Isenberg’s landmark book, we will have to face the truth about the enduring, malevolent nature of class as well. (catalog summary)