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Reading Classes

On Culture and Classism in America

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 978-0-8014-7779-9
Genre: memoir, psychology, sociology, creative non-fiction

Look for Reading Classes at your local bookstore.

available online at:

Cornell University Press
Barnes and Noble
Amazon (Kindle Link)


Raves and Reviews

"Whether you're middle class or working class, you need to read this book. And if you’re an upwardly mobile 'crossover,' this book could save your sanity. Barbara Jensen has pulled off something extraordinary: she exemplifies her ideas about the strengths of working-class and middle-class cultures by writing in both voices. A crossover herself, she analyzes previous theories and creates a memorable framework, and she tells us heartfelt stories and uses colorful analogies. This powerful book walks its talk."
~ Betsy Leondar-Wright
author of Class Matters
director of Class Action

"Like Barbara Jensen, I was born in the working class but moved into the middle class. That journey is rife with perils, as a person must move away from the very people who launched him or her to go on to become something completely different. Coming from a tough Brooklyn neighborhood, I was eager to move on with my life. But Jensen, with her stories about the love and decency of her working-class forebears, showed me another way to be working class. It made me rethink some of my core assumptions and reevaluate my initial judgments about where I came from and who I am. Working-class people moving into the middle class rarely see their lives represented. Here, then, is a great example of that kind of life, that kind of experience. Jensen's personal story, combined with her training as a psychologist, make her the perfect person to write this book."
~ Al Lubrano
author of Limbo: Blue-Collar
Roots, White-Collar Dreams

"Working-class culture is an important topic, but it is most often treated as something to overcome. Barbara Jensen's approach is different: she speaks of working-class life from its strengths, without eliding its pain and oppression. Moreover, she writes beautifully."
~ Jean Anyon, Graduate Center
City University of New York
author of Ghetto Schooling:
A Political Economy of Education Reform

"Reading Classes is a thought-provoking, accessible, and important discussion of class—especially the working class—in America. Barbara Jensen sets out to make working class culture “visible,” to explain not only its core values and practices but also the experiences and perspectives of working class people."
~ Sherry Lee Linkon
Center for Working-Class Studies at
Youngstown State University
coeditor of New Working-Class Studies

Review at Country Chick-City Chic ~ "This is a well researched, academic book yet it’s amazingly readable. It’s almost like she was writing for us working classes!"

Review at ForeWord Reviews ~ "An enlightening read on the consequences of classism in America, for the middle class this book effectively shatters the myopic cultural lens through which they often view, judge, and justify the subjugation of the working class. For the working class, it is an affirmation of their cultures, lifestyles, and labors. A companion for the class “crossovers,” it’s a must-read for teachers, psychologists, and social workers."

Reviews at Google Books ~ Barbara Jensen Is a healer of the mind. Throughout the years she’s helped hundred of children, teens, couples, and families. One of the most inspiring..."

Review at Shelf Love ~ Like me, Barbara Jensen grew up in the working class and now is part of the professional middle class. She draws on her background as a “crossover” and her work as a counseling psychologist, as well as research into social class, to write about the growing gulf between the professional and working classes and the difficulties of crossing from one to the other."