I love Labor Day. Love it, love it, love it. Summer's on the way out,* it's a day off work,** there's no family gatherings, and we're not celebrating war.
I also love it because I love reading about the subject of work. I love reading about work about a million times more than I enjoy working, but that's another story for another day. I was looking back through old blog posts and found a list I made of work-related readings; I've pasted that at the bottom of this post. But I thought today I'd add a few newer titles to the list (links in this top list go to my reviews of the titles):
1. Michael Lewis's Flash Boys, about high frequency trading, which contains great insights into modern trading and the role of computer programmers in that world.
2. Victoria Sweet's God's Hotel, about being a doctor in San Francisco's Laguna Honda hospital.
3. Rose George's Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry that Puts Clothes On Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate. That title is self-explanatory, but I will say this: Rose George is fantastic, and you should be reading her.
4.Ray Huling's Harvesting the Bay: Fathers, Sons and the Last of the Wild Shellfishermen. Another self-explanatory title, and much more interesting than it sounds.
5. Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work, by Jeanne Marie Laskas. A great, page-turning nonfiction read.
6. Gig: Americans Talk about Their Jobs, edited by John Bowe. An oral history about work. And oh, I LOVE John Bowe. See my note about "Nobodies," below.
7. Working in the Shadows: A Year of Doing the Jobs (Most) Americans Won't Do, by Gabriel Thompson. Thompson worked (among other jobs) as a migrant agricultural worker and in a butchering plant. I promise you you'll never look at chicken the same way.
And here's the 2009 list:
1. Gil Reavill's Aftermath, Inc., in which the author joined a group of workers who clean up death scenes and accidents (particularly those which involve any kind of biohazard). Not for the faint of heart, but a good rollicking read nonetheless.
2. Scott Rosenberg's Dreaming in Code. Hands down one of the most interesting and illuminating books I've ever read about computer programming. I still don't understand it but I have a better understanding of what I don't understand.
3. Ted Conover's Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing. Good lord, I hope I'm never convicted of anything. I couldn't handle being a prison guard, much less being IN prison.
4. William Langewiesche, The Outlaw Sea. It is William Langewiesche, writing about modern-day pirates. Ask no questions, just read.
5. Stacy Horn's The Restless Sleep; discussed at length earlier this week but an unbelievable look at those who work around murder victims, particularly cold case investigators.
6. John McPhee's Uncommon Carriers, in which he makes trucking and the profession of trucking fascinating.
7. John Bowe's Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy. Well, it's about work, unfortunately the work isn't really voluntary. I quoted this one to my poor mother again just the other day: I continue to be floored by Bowe's brilliant, and brilliantly simple assertion that (I'm paraphrasing, but this is fairly close) "the system isn't broken--the system is working exactly the way the system was set up to work." Holy Christ. Think on that one for a few minutes.
8. The Working Stiff's Manifesto, by Iain Levison. I don't agree with this author's rather casual attitude toward stealing from one's employer (although I'm no innocent--I still have and use the apron I was provided with as a Country Kitchen waitress--and I'm not giving it back!), but it's still a great book.
Happy Labor Day, all. Now go take a load off.
*Whenever the temperature gets above 60 degrees I get testy. Summer is not my season.
**Well, not for me currently, as a freelance schlub, but I have fond memories of gainful M-F employment and legal holidays.