The Hard Way on Purpose

Now in bookstores

A new book of essays about life in the Rust Belt, by the author of All the Way Home. Award-winning author and journalist David Giffels explores the meaning of identity and place, hamburgers, thrift stores, and the heartbreak of basketball in this collection of wry, irreverent essays. Intelligent, humorous, and warm, The Hard Way on Purpose is about coming of age in the Midwest, and the stubborn, optimistic, proud, and resourceful people who thrive there.  

Read an excerpt.  Buy it now.


“This amazing book will resonate with anyone who’s ever loved a hometown, wherever it might be -- especially if it’s the kind of hometown people usually leave. Even if you’ve never been to Akron, Giffels brilliantly captures how it feels to love your city fiercely, even when it’s falling apart. He celebrates Akron as 'the Paris of hard times.’ Giffels might be its Baudelaire.”
Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, author of Love is a Mix Tape and Turn Around Bright Eyes

“They still build souls in Akron. The Hard Way On Purpose is proof. David Giffels is a Rust Belt prophet, laughing -- sometimes through his tears -- in Doom’s face. You want to hear America singing? Buy this book.”
—Scott Raab, Esquire magazine, author of The Whore of Akron: Searching for the Soul of LeBron James

“David Giffels writes straight into the heart of Akron, Ohio, the place we both call home. It's a hard place to be from, which is why it makes such a good story. What other place could have spawned Jim Jarmusch, LeBron James, Lux Interior and the Goodyear blimp? So it’s no accident that this book reads like the American soul -- wicked and sincere and ingeniously weird. It is a great story, an authentic one about the way people protect the places they love, and The Hard Way on Purpose gets it exactly right.”
—Patrick Carney, The Black Keys

“The portrait painted here is an honest and revealing one, illuminating the cultural factors that have given a strange, shadowy sort of hope to millions of Americans.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“Occasionally, an essayist so perfectly chronicles a specific place that he or she becomes synonymous with it. Joseph Mitchell and New York; Joan Didion and California; Adam Gopnik and Paris; John Jeremiah Sullivan and the American South. With The Hard Way on Purpose, David Giffels has pulled a chair up to this lofty literary table, and in so doing, provided the hardscrabble industrial Midwest with its own lyrical, learned, and very large-hearted champion.”
—David Goodwillie, author of American Subversive