FAQ: What Anthropology Textbooks Do You Recommended?

Recommended Anthropology Textbooks. Image of a bookshelf with books.

I’m often asked, what Anthropology textbooks do you recommend? Many people are new to the field of Anthropology and want to learn more, but they don’t know where to start.

Here are some textbooks in each of the 4 fields of Anthropology to get you started. They are listed in alphabetical order by title. You can find many of these books through online used bookstores, such as Thriftbooks and AbeBooks. Also, you can buy some of these books online in PDF form (just do a Google search). It’s okay to get older editions of these books, just know that they may not have the latest findings from research, especially in Physical Anthropology and Archaeology. Older editions of the books will still teach you the basics just fine, though! If you pick one book out of each category, you’ll have a good introduction to the whole field of Anthropology!

Cultural Anthropology: Introductory Textbooks

  • Cultural Anthropology: A Toolkit for a Global Age. By Kenneth J. Guest. The 2nd edition is from 2017.
  • Cultural Anthropology: An Applied Perspective. By Gary Ferraro and Susan Andreatta. The 11th Edition is from 2018.
  • Cultural Anthropology: Appreciating Cultural Diversity. By Conrad Phillip Kottak. The 16th Edition is from 2015.
  • Cultural Anthropology: Global Forces, Local Lives. By Jack David Eller. The Third Edition is from 2016.
  • Cultural Anthropology: The Human Challenge. By William A. Haviland and others. The 12th Edition is from 2008.
  • Humanity: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. By James Peoples and Garrick Bailey. The 11th edition is from 2018.
  • Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology. By the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges. (not as comprehensive as the other books in this list, but FREE at this link: Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology)
  • Thinking Like an Anthropologist: A Practical Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. By: John T. Omohundro. Published in 2008. (this book is not a traditional textbook like the ones above, but it is highly recommended in addition to one of the above textbooks)

Physical Anthropology: Introductory Textbooks

  • Core Concepts in Biological Anthropology. By Agustin Fuentes. Published in 2007.
  • Essentials of Biological Anthropology. By Clark Spencer Larsen. The 4th Edition was published in 2019.
  • Essentials of Physical Anthropology. By Robert Jurmain and others. The 10th Edition was published in 2017.
  • Explorations: An Open Invitation to Biological Anthropology. By the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges. (FREE at this link: Explorations: An Open Invitation to Biological Anthropology)
  • The Human Species: An Introduction to Biological Anthropology. By John Relethford. The 8th Edition was published in 2010.
  • Introduction to Physical Anthropology. By Robert Jurmain and others. The 15th edition was published in 2018.
  • Understanding Humans: Introduction to Physical Anthropology and Archaeology. By Barry Lewis and others. The 11th edition was published in 2013.

Archaeology: Introductory Textbooks

  • Archaeology. By Robert L. Kelly and David Hurst Thomas. The 7th Edition was published in 2017.
  • Archaeology Essentials: Theories, Methods, Practice. By Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn. The 3rd Edition was published in 2015.
  • Archaeology: Theories, Methods, and Practice. By Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn. The 7th Edition was published in 2016.

Linguistic Anthropology: Introductory Textbooks

  • The Anthropology of Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology. By Harriet Joseph Ottenheimer and Judith M. S. Pine. The 4th Edition was published in 2019.
  • Language, Culture, and Society: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology. By Zdenek Salzmann and others. The 5th Edition was published in 2012.
  • Linguistics for Non-Linguists: A Primer with Exercises. By Frank Parker and Kathryn Riley. The 4th Edition was published in 2005.
  • Living Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology. By Laura M. Ahearn. Published in 2012.

Want more information?

You can learn more about these books and others on the Recommended Reading page of my website.

Thanks for reading!

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