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  • Editor's Introduction
  • Arien Mack

as our readers know, social research is an outlier. it is neither a disciplinary journal nor a journal with a single focus as so many scholarly journals are. It is rather a journal of ideas that is never discipline-bound and often focuses on ideas that are not new but are—we hope—of enduring interest. For many years, each issue has explored a different theme; for example, our Winter 2021 issue looked at the escalation of xenophobia around the world and was followed by our Spring 2022 issue, "Hospitality." Both examined related aspects of our social world, one unfortunately more prevalent today than the other.

The current issue is different. It is based not on a special theme but rather on the conviction that words matter, books and ideas matter—and some books, special ones, deeply affect our lives and how we think and what we think about. To bring home this perhaps trivial truism—that books and ideas matter—we invited scholars whom we have long respected to write about a particular book that has mattered to them and to briefly explain why. The books our authors chose to write about, not surprisingly, cover a wide array of subjects and writers, from storytellers like Italo Calvino, James Joyce, and Lewis Carroll to the poet Phillis Wheatley to theorists like Thomas Hobbes, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Max Weber, to name just a few. I expect that our readers will find the selections as fascinating as the reasons they were chosen for.

Those of our readers who have been with us for some time will recognize that this is the second such issue of the journal. The first appeared in Fall 2018. In my introduction to the first issue, I predicted that there would be a second and wrote, "Because we think this issue gathers together an interesting set of essays, 'Books That Matter' is a [End Page xi] focus we are likely to repeat in the future with a different roster of writers." So here it is, with a new set of esteemed authors and their interesting choices. I expect you will enjoy reading these essays as much as I did. [End Page xii]



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