One of my favorite subgenres in narrative nonfiction is occupational memoirs. I’ve read some good ones in the past couple of years and I’m trying to figure out how to work them into a series for my book group. I want to provide my group with a list of books and a list of topics to think about while they read.
I want discussion to focus on the books, the authors, and their subjects. I’d like to keep conversation away from “My first job/my worst job/why I hate my current job.” Instead, I’d like to hone in on why some jobs lend themselves well to memoirs. What is it about this particular job that captures the best or worst of human nature? What are the preconceived notions of a particular occupation and how does the author dispel or confirm those notions? If a reader has never held a job in this particular profession, how is the author getting the reader to identify with his/her job experiences? What aspects of this particular occupation can readers relate to? In the case of books that have been turned into movies, what did the film version exaggerate? Which myths did the film debunk or reinforce?
Those are just a few of the topics I think I want to address in a book group series on Americans at Work. These are the titles I am considering. Weigh in with your thoughts on occupations or memoirs I may have missed.
Free for All by Don Borchert
Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica
My Posse Don’t Do Homework by LouAnne Johnson
Fighting Fire by Caroline Paul
Blown Sideways Through Life by Claudia Shear
Tell Me Where it Hurts by Nick Trout