Inspired by Flavorwire’s Labor Day Reading List, I’ve decided to make my own. Here are my top ten Labor Reads for Labor Day (bonus–links, where they exist, go to powells.com, the unionized internet & Oregon bookstore).
1. Best of Temp Slave by Jeff Kelly. Chronicling nearly ten years of temp work in the 90s. Everything old is new again.
2. Xtra Tuf No. 5 The Strike Issue by Moe Bowstern. Yes, another zine. I’m crazy like that (but these are books of zines). Imagine being a commercial fisherwoman (woman fisherman?) in Alaska. Now go on strike. Big fun.
3. Germinal by Emile Zola. Life in a mid-19th century French mine certainly was not charmant.
4. The Kid from Hoboken by Bill Bailey. I think I bought this self-published book at an Abraham Lincoln Brigade event in San Francisco sometime in the 90s. It’s the autobiography of a guy from Hoboken (duh) who worked on possibly every U.S. tramp steamer that went to sea in the middle of the 20th century, while organizing for the Communist Party. If I know you offline, you can borrow this book, but if you lose it? I might have to kill you.
5. Hey Waitress! The USA from the Other Side of the Tray by Alison Owings. Sort of a Studs Terkel-ish approach to waitresses.
6. The Many and the Few by Henry Kraus. Amazing inside look at the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1937.
7. Holding the Line by Barbara Kingsolver. I’m guessing that few of her fiction fans know that her first book was about women copperminers who struck in Arizona in 1983.
8. Black Workers Remember by Michael Honey. Black workers fought segregation on the shop floor and in the union.
9. Irving Penn: Small Trades. Vogue fashion photographer shoots Parisian workers with the tools of their trades. Result? Magnifique!
10. My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki. You know that feeling you had when you read The Jungle? You’ll have it again.
What are your top ten Labor Day Reads? Answer in the comments.