Essential reading, especially for my fellow Philadelphians, is the recently published (to great acclaim) book On the Run: Fugitive Life In An American City by Alice Goffman (Fieldwork Encounters and Discoveries, 2014). Goffman chronicles the stories of those living and negotiating lives of crime, poverty, and imprisonment here in Philadelphia, though the cycles they move through, are victims of, and themselves perpetuate, play out in cities throughout the US. The intimacy Goffman achieved with those whom she profiled gives the book an immediacy often lacking in sociology books that examine societal issues down the length of patrician noses or through the jargon of academia. For those who live in Philly, it's very easy to hear the voices of Goffman's cast of characters since their vernacular and speech patters are part of the rhythm of our city.
Being a new book, some may find the hardcover to be a bit expensive. An alternative for those living in the 21st Century is the ebook, which is just $9 from Amazon. This is how I'm presently reading the book.
On June 16, 2014 Alice Goffman spoke at the Philadelphia Free Library. You can listen to her on their podcast here.