If you have enjoyed our conversations and writing on rethinking work in the city, then you might want to explore the following books:
Bullshit Jobs – A Theory by David Graeber: There are millions of people—HR consultants, communication coordinators, telemarketing researchers, corporate lawyers—whose jobs are useless, and, tragically, they know it. These people are caught in bullshit jobs. The book explores one of society’s most vexing and deeply felt concerns, indicting among other villains a particular strain of finance capitalism that betrays ideals shared by thinkers ranging from Keynes to Lincoln. Bullshit Jobs gives individuals, corporations, and societies permission to undergo a shift in values, placing creative and caring work at the center of our culture. This book is for everyone who wants to turn their vocation back into an avocation. Read the essay which inspired the book.
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell: When the technologies we use every day collapse our experiences into 24/7 availability, platforms for personal branding, and products to be monetized, nothing can be quite so radical as… doing nothing. Here, Jenny Odell sends up a flare from the heart of Silicon Valley, delivering an action plan to resist capitalist narratives of productivity and techno-determinism, and to become more meaningfully connected in the process.
Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen: While burnout may seem like the default setting for the modern era, in Can’t Even, BuzzFeed culture writer and former academic Anne Helen Petersen argues that burnout is a definitional condition for the millennial generation, born out of distrust in the institutions that have failed us, the unrealistic expectations of the modern workplace, and a sharp uptick in anxiety and hopelessness exacerbated by the constant pressure to “perform” our lives online. The genesis for the book is Petersen’s viral BuzzFeed article on the topic, which has amassed over eight million reads since its publication in January 2019.You can read the article here.
Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home by Charlie Warzel, Anne Helen Petersen: “The future isn’t about where we will work, but how. For years we have struggled to balance work and life, with most of us feeling overwhelmed and burned out because our relationship to work is broken. This “isn’t just a book about remote work. It’s a book that helps us imagine a future where our lives–at the office and home–are happier, more productive, and genuinely meaningful”, writes Charles Duhigg about the book. Out of Office is a book for every office worker – from employees to managers – currently facing the decision about whether, and how, to return to the office. The past two years have shown us that there may be a new path forward, one that doesn’t involve hellish daily commutes and the demands of jam-packed work schedules that no longer make sense. But how can we realize that future in a way that benefits workers and companies alike?
Based on groundbreaking reporting and interviews with workers and managers around the world, Out of Office illuminates the key values and questions that should be driving this conversation: trust, fairness, flexibility, inclusive workplaces, equity, and work-life balance. Above all, they argue that companies need to listen to their employees – and that this will promote, rather than impede, productivity and profitability. As a society, we have talked for decades about flexible work arrangements; this book makes clear that we are at an inflection point where this is actually possible for many employees and their companies. Out of Office is about so much more than zoom meetings and hybrid schedules: it aims to reshape our entire relationship to the office.
Laziness Does Not Exist by Devon Price: Like many Americans, Dr. Devon Price believed that productivity was the best way to measure self-worth. Price was an overachiever from the start, graduating from both college and graduate school early, but that success came at a cost. After Price was diagnosed with a severe case of anemia and heart complications from overexertion, they were forced to examine the darker side of all this productivity.
Laziness Does Not Exist explores the psychological underpinnings of the “laziness lie,” including its origins from the Puritans and how it has continued to proliferate as digital work tools have blurred the boundaries between work and life. Using in-depth research, Price explains that people today do far more work than nearly any other humans in history yet most of us often still feel we are not doing enough.
Blurbs for the above books are sourced from Goodreads. Happy reading!