W is for Work

This spring we’ve been looking at the idea of “work”. We’ve teamed with the Magic Valley Arts Council to help highlight their traveling Smithsonian exhibit The Way We Worked by presenting the Let’s Talk About It series on “Working Making a Living, Making a Life.” And we’re also showcasing some of our historical photographs in a mini-gallery featuring what working was like when the Magic Valley was young.

And beyond all that, I’m sure that spring cleaning is the work that’s on the minds of many of us – just thinking about cleaning the closets and getting out in the garden is enough to start my allergies…

With that in mind, here’s a list of nonfiction books about people and their work. Whether they tried out something new, or are writing about the behind-the-scenes of their current career path, the people in these jobs offer us a different glimpse of the daily grind.


Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home – Gil Reavill

Ambulance Girl: How I Saved Myself by Becoming an EMT – Jane Stern

Among Schoolchildren – Tracy Kidder

Blue Blood – Edward Conlon

Callgirl – Jeanette Angell

Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler: A Memoir – Wade Rouse

Confessions of a Tax Collector: One Man’s Tour of Duty Inside the IRS – Richard Yancey

Cooking Dirty: A Story of Life, Sex, Love, and Death in the Kitchen – Jason Sheehan

Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress – Candacy A. Taylor

Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training – Tom Jokinen

The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness, and the Making of a Great Chef – Marco Pierre White

Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States – Pete Jordan

Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher’s First Year – Esme Raji Codell

Fire Fighters: Stories of Survival from the Front Lines of Firefighting – edited by Clint Wills

Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library – Don Borchert

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise – Ruth Reichl

Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany – Bill Buford

Hey Waitress: The USA from the Other Side of the Tray – Alison Owings

House Calls and Hitching Posts: Stories from Dr. Elton Lehman’s Career Among the Amish – Elton Lehman

How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else – Michael Gill

In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: Confessions of an Accidental Academic – Professor X

In the Land of Long Fingernails: A Gravedigger in the Age of Aquarius – Charles Wilkins

Jumping Fire: A Smokejumper’s Memoir of Fighting Wildfire – Murry A. Taylor

Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail – Caitlin Kelly

Ms. Moffett’s First Year: Becoming a Teacher in America – Abby Goodnough

Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing – Ted Conover

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America – Barbara Ehernreich

Nursing America: One Year Behind the Nursing Stations of an Inner-City Hospital – Sandy Balfour

On Call: A Doctor’s Days and Nights in Residency – Emily R. Transue

Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant’s Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet – Elliott Hester

Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store: Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate – Freeman Hall

Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Bookstore – Suzanne Shea

Strip City: A Stripper’s Farewell Journey Across America – Lily Burana

Teacher Man: A Memoir – Frank McCourt

Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip – Confessions of a Cynical Waiter – The Waiter

Weekends at Bellevue – Julie Holland

Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do – Studs Terkel


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