4 Books that Bring the Office to the Beach

June 29, 2010

The Fourth July weekend is the height of summer vacation, when millions of people set their e-mail programs to vacation auto-respond and leave new voice mail recordings announcing a gleeful few days away from the desk. Whether you find it tough to leave your office culture behind or are a freelancer and enjoy hearing about 9-to-5ers who wallow in bureaucracy and office politics (guess which camp I'm in), here are some suggested summer reading material. These books are about working in creative industries such as advertising, office culture and the tiny blips of creativity and real human experience that pop up every so often in an office environment. "And Then We Came to The End" by Joshua Ferris A leading advertising agency in Chicago is perpetually laying-off employees through an economic downturn. Written from a strange second-person "we," the novel follows the quirky workers in the creative department of the agency. It's a funny and quick read and will especially resonate with anyone who's worked in a creative office. "The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work" by Alain de Botton A nonfiction exploration into our relationships with our workplaces and occupations. Alain de Botton devotes 10 chapters to 10 very different jobs. He interviews subjects and explores work environments, and comes up with journalistic accounts of each. There’s a great book review and a video interview with the author on Businesweek’s site. "E: A Novel" by Matt Beaumont A 21st-century take on the epistolary form. This novel is set in a London advertising agency, and written entirely in e-mails! The e-mail messages follow a group of ladder-climbing creatives as they try to land a multibillion dollar account. This is written by a former advertising copywriter, who many say, nails the agency culture. "The Mezzanine" by Nicholson Baker This entire novel takes place during the narrator's ride up the escalator in his office complex. During this "journey" the narrator meditates on trivial objects such as drinking straws and bathroom hand dryers and somehow these thoughts lead to deep revelations about the human experience. There are lots of lengthy footnotes throughout ... for those who enjoy that sort of thing.

*intro thumbnail via flickr user BluOrgGrnBwn.

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