Learn and Explore with Books on Society and Culture

Apr 1, 2024 10:48:00 AM / by Broadleaf Books


Culture serves as a powerful lens through which we view the world. It shapes the way we act, what we believe, how we identify, and what we value. It is constantly evolving, and we are both products of our culture and active participants in shaping it through our interactions and choices. This collection of diverse narratives offers a deeper understanding of different facets of society and invites you to consider the ways you fit into the world around you.




Kim Watson

Publication date: May 14, 2024

Writer, director, and photographer Kim Watson sheds light on the experiences of the unhoused people of Los Angeles in this moving collection of photo essays, including stories of those he has befriended during his three years serving homeless populations and 160 stunning black-and-white photographs. Trespass dares us to confront our own biases and inspires us toward compassion and empathy for our fellow humans. 

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The Mother Artist

Catherine Ricketts

Publication date: April 16, 2024

Few women artists feature prominently in the history of art, and even fewer who are mothers. Are motherhood and creativity at odds, or are other factors at play? The Mother Artist twines intimate meditations on motherhood with portraits of the work, lives, and studios of mother artists, placing us in the company of women from the past and the present who persevere in both art and caregiving.

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American Imam

Taymullah Abdur-Rahman

Publication date: February 27, 2024

By the time he was twelve, Taymullah Abdur-Rahman was a rising pop star, recruited as part of the R&B group Perfect Gentlemen. However, after his music career peaked, Abdur-Rahman found himself back home, with little to show for his success. Seeing Islam as a way to discipline himself in an unrelenting environment, he converted. Later, in his work as the first paid Muslim chaplain at Harvard, Abdur-Rahman began to seek counsel outside of Islam, engaging with Jewish and Christian mentors who opened his eyes to the gifts of interreligious dialogue and helped lead him to what he was truly seeking: enlightenment. A sweeping narrative, American Imam weaves the contemporary Black American experience with the Black Muslim American experience and emphasizes the role of interreligious dialogue in the fight for abolition and justice.

Read an excerpt here.

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Psalms of My People

lenny duncan

Publication date: January 9, 2024

If you want to understand the Black experience in the US, you have to understand hip-hop. In Psalms of My People, artist, scholar, and activist lenny duncan treats the work of hip-hop artists from the last several decades—from N.W.A, Tupac, and Biggie to Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar—like sacred scripture. Their songs and lyrics are given full exegetical treatment—a critical and contextual interpretation of text—and are beautifully illustrated, with a blend of ancient and modern art styles illuminating every page.

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We Survived the End of the World

Steven Charleston

Publication date: September 19, 2023

Native America has confronted apocalypse for more than four hundred years. In We Survived the End of the World, Choctaw elder and Episcopal priest Steven Charleston tells the stories of four Indigenous prophets who helped their people learn strategies for surviving catastrophe, using their lessons and wisdom as guidance for how we can face the uncertainty of the modern age.   

Read an excerpt here.

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What Would Jesus See

Aaron Rosen

Publication date: June 6, 2023

What would Jesus see if he looked at the world today? In What Would Jesus See, Aaron Rosen, scholar of art and religion, invites us to explore with him how Jesus saw, what he saw, and why it is important today. In a time when our eyes have grown weary, Rosen argues, Jesus offers us the chance to see the world with renewed vision and radical empathy.

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Missed Conceptions

Karen Stollznow

Publication date: April 25, 2023

Blending personal narrative, historical research, and pop culture, Karen Stollznow's Missed Conceptions gives voice to an experience that has been taboo for too long but is all too common. For the one in six couples who face fertility challenges when they attempt to get pregnant, this book is a welcome and hopeful companion.

Read an excerpt here.

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Becoming Kin

Patty Krawec

Publication date: September 27, 2022

We find our way forward by going back. Patty Krawec, Anishinaabe and Ukrainian writer from Lac Seul First Nation, weaves her own story with the story of her ancestors and with the broader themes of creation, replacement, and disappearance. This remarkable sojourn through Native and settler history, myth, identity, and spirituality helps us retrace our steps and pick up what was lost along the way: chances to honor rather than violate treaties, to see the land as a relative rather than a resource, and to unravel the history we have been taught. 

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Flip It Like This!

David Hayward

Publication date: July 19, 2022

The cartoons of David Hayward, the artist behind @NakedPastor, are graffiti on the walls of the contemporary church. He sketches the ridiculous, the appalling, and the damaging aspects of the church as we know it—as well as Jesus erasing lines, embracing the excluded, and standing outside the church's walls. In this collection, which includes Hayward's most beloved comics as well as never-before-seen cartoons, we find more of the whimsy, impertinence, and tenderness that we didn't even know we needed. Upending notions of who's in and who's out, Hayward's comic vision overturns false pieties and harmful dogmas in one fell swoop.

Read an interview here.

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Alissa Wilkinson

Publication date: June 28, 2022

Ella Baker, Alice B. Toklas, Hannah Arendt, Octavia Butler, Agnes Varda, Elizabeth David, Edna Lewis, Maya Angelou, Laurie Colwin: these smart, engaging, revolutionary, and creative twentieth-century women were all profoundly influenced by their own relationships to food, drink, and other elements of sustenance. Salty explores the ways food managed to root these women into their various callings, and invites us to discover how to live with courage, agency, grace, smarts, snark, saltiness, and sometimes feasting—even in uncertain times. 

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BL Hidden Mercy Cover Final

Hidden Mercy

Michael J. O'Loughlin

Publication date: November 30, 2021

The height of the AIDS crisis in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s left many profound stories that remained untold. In Hidden Mercy, gay Catholic journalist Michael O'Loughlin uncovers the stories of Catholics who at great personal cost chose compassion. A compelling picture of those who responded to human suffering with mercy, offering insights for LGBTQ and other people of faith struggling to find a home in religious communities today.

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Portraits of Peace

John Noltner

Publication date: September 21, 2021

Frustrated with an increasingly polarized social landscape, award-winning photographer John Noltner set out on a 40,000-mile road trip across the United States to rediscover the common humanity that connects us. He did so by asking people one simple question: "What does peace mean to you?" Through difficult conversations, gentle humor, and a keen eye for beauty, Noltner's Portraits of Peace captures a rich collage of who we are as a nation and offers a promising road map to a peaceful future as a pluralistic society.

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Steeped in Stories

Mitali Perkins

Publication date: August 31, 2021

The stories we read as children shape us for the rest of our lives. But it is never too late to discover that transformative spark of hope that children's classics can ignite within us. Award-winning children's author Mitali Perkins grew up steeped in stories—escaping into her books on the fire escape of an apartment building and, later, finding solace in them as she navigated between the cultures of her suburban California school and her Bengali heritage at home. Now Perkins invites us to explore the promise of seven timeless children's novels for adults living in uncertain times: stories that provide mirrors to our innermost selves and open windows to other worlds.

Read an excerpt here.

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Emily Joy Allison

Publication date: March 9, 2021

Sexual abuse is utterly rampant in Christian churches in America. And the reasons are somewhat different than those you might find in the #MeToo stories coming out of Hollywood or Washington. #ChurchToo turns over the rocks of the church's sexual dysfunction, revealing just what makes sexualized violence in religious contexts both ubiquitous and uniquely traumatizing. Emily Joy Allison lays the groundwork for survivors of abuse to live full, free, healthy lives.

Read an excerpt here.

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David Zahl

Publication date: August 25, 2020

Today, we look to various passions—from eating to parenting to voting—for the meaning once provided on Sunday morning. In our striving, we are chasing a sense of enoughness. But it remains ever out of reach, and the effort and anxiety are burning us out. Seculosity takes a thoughtful yet entertaining tour of American "performancism." Ultimately, David Zahl brings us to a fresh appreciation for the grace of God in all its countercultural wonder.

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BL trains jesus and murder the gospel according to johnny cash

Trains, Jesus, and Murder

Richard Beck

Publication date: November 5, 2019

Johnny Cash's deeply rooted faith can be found in the lyrics of some of his most famous songs and the personal stories from which they arose. In Trains, Jesus, and Murder, Richard Beck explores the theology of Johnny Cash by investigating a dozen of Cash's songs. In reflecting on Cash's lyrics, and the passion with which he sang them, we gain a deeper understanding of the enduring faith of the Man in Black.

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