It’s summertime, and the reading is easy. (For many, that is. There are some who like to take advantage of long beach days with a tome they otherwise wouldn’t have time to read; to them, we say more power to you!) As a bookworm, I’m always looking for a good read to take with me, whether that’s to the beach or otherwise—although I do prefer the beach. And as a proud employment law geek, I love it when my pleasure reading gives a nod to my chosen profession. So if you, too, like your summer reading to dish out a generous portion of human resources (I can’t be the only one, now, can I?), here are some of my personal favorites.
Then We Came to the End: A Novel by Joshua Ferris—Then We Came to the End was described to me as “Office Space in book form,” and I have to say, that description is apt. The book chronicles a group of employees in a Chicago advertising firm facing deep staffing cuts. It’s narrated in the first-person plural, which is an interesting, little-used perspective, and as a result, it honestly captures the group dynamics of many offices. This dark comedy manages to be simultaneously sad and funny . . . and anyone who has ever looked with an envious eye at a coworker’s office furniture will blush with recognition.
Baker Towers: A Novel by Jennifer Haigh—Employment isn’t the primary focus of Baker Towers, but in a novel sweeping decades of life in a Pennsylvania coal mining town after World War II, you know that labor strife will be part of the picture. When the miners go on strike, the entire town feels the effects—even those who don’t work below ground. Baker Towers is a sensitive, realistic portrayal of life in the Rust Belt, and those of us with a labor bent will find it fascinating.
The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich—If you like your beach reading with a side of subversiveness, The Good Girls Revolt is for you. Lynn Povich was a staffer at Newsweek in the 1970s, when the journalism industry was male-dominated. Povich and her female colleagues filed an EEOC charge alleging “systematic discrimination” by the higher-ups at Newsweek, and this is their story. It’s light on legal arguments but heavy on atmosphere, and you’ll feel as if you were there, sitting with the Newsweek women in tension-filled meetings in apartments, planning their next move.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain—According to Quiet, at least one-third of people are introverts, which means there are almost certainly some in your workforce, if you’re not one yourself. Many introverts struggle to fit into an extrovert-dominated workforce, but Susan Cain has good advice on that score. As an introvert myself, I nodded in agreement with many of her tips and anecdotes—but this book isn’t just for introverts. Quiet should be required reading for managers who want to learn more about how their more introverted employees think and work best. Quiet was one of the most talked-about books of 2012, and for good reason. It’s well-researched and absolutely fascinating.
Enough about me—what about you? Are you reading anything employment-related this summer? Do share!
Editor’s note: Blogger Jaclyn West has not been compensated for her book recommendations.