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Fifty Shades of Grind: Books book clubs shouldn’t overlook20 May 2014 06:42 pm

booksthatshapedworklogo.jpgI was recently asked by the Department of Labor to be part of of the agency’s project to develop a list of “Books that Shaped Work in America,” done in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

I provided my book choices, which I include below and you can see on the Labor Department’s website here, but it got me thinking about the books we tend to read and the ones we overlook.

I’m in two book clubs now and I know from experience that participants aren’t big on books that focus on the working stiffs of the world. It seems we all want a better workplace but we’re put off by the idea of a labor movement as if it’s an anachronism. Reading books that glorify giving a voice to the working guy and gal is so 1940s.

Are we too hip, too advanced, to care about giving workers a voice today? Clearly we need it gals!

I remember picking one book on the life of autoworkers for a book club I was in a few years back, and I remember the grumbles from my book club buddies.

That is until they read the book — Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line by Ben Hamper. It was funny, irreverent and just the right choice for the discriminating book-club gals. I served pizza and beer from the can just to play into the stereo type, and I emailed Hamper to let him know that I chose his book for my book club. Even he was shocked by my choice, writing that he didn’t think a coffee klatch was the best audience. Funny guy.

Any way, what about thinking outside the Oprah bookclub box and trying something new? You can see a whole list of book choices on the Department of Labor’s website made by bigwigs from around the country, including George P. Shultz, Daniel Pink, and even an intern from the labor department Amanda Kraft.

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