Friday, 29 October 2010

Jobs and Books


I was reading Wolf Mankowitz's Make Me An Offer today - a book I've bought for a friend but, ahem, thought I'd 'test' out first. It's secondhand, as you can see, so I can't really impair its quality... but that's a topic for a whole other day. The book - which I'm really enjoying - is from the perspective of an antiques dealer. I can't find out whether or not Wolf Mankowitz (who shares my birthday, incidentally) was an antiques dealer himself, but it all seems pretty convincing to me.

Whilst reading it, I thought of my friend Sherry, who works in antiques over in America, and wondered whether she'd like to read Make Me An Offer - or perhaps already had. And then I paused. Do people want to read books about their jobs? So many people tell me about books they think my Dad will like "because they're about a vicar." I don't often pass these recommendations on - partly because, of course, Dad is still reading Lord of the Rings, as promised to Col - but it always strikes me as a little odd. Maybe vicars are more susceptible to these sorts of recommendations than most? I am a part-time librarian and a full-time student. I would be quite interested to read a book featuring librarians, but would never actively seek them out - and I actively avoid reading books about students, because they either panic or bore me, for the most part.

What about you? Do you like books featuring people of your profession, or avoid them, or have you never really thought about it? Do people recommend them to you for that reason, or has it never happened? This question is a little trickier for those of you whose job is being parents or spouses (I really hope at least one house-husband reads my blog, as I think it is a sadly underappreciated job!) because so many books, especially those in the line of the Provincial Lady, focus on characters with these roles, but not foregrounded in the way that a novel is when it's about a dentist or vicar or, indeed, an antiques dealer.

Let me know your thoughts!

24 comments:

  1. I would like a story set in the tea business because thats what I do (my 9 to 4 job) and yes I like stuff with children/orphanages in a background (thats after hours!).

    I checked my local Melbourne library. There are five books by Mankowitz and not the one you are speaking about. why oh why?

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  2. Well, there's not too many good books written about homeschooling moms, but a vast majority of what I do is pass on a love of reading and learning. So, books that celebrate books and reading are definitely favorites around here. We also love stories/novels that reference other stories/novels.

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  3. I'm a student, and I absolutely love reading books about students. My favourite book is set in a college, and I do tend to seek out other books about students.

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  4. I shudder at most books (and movies and TV programs) featuring lawyers. Not only are most of them wildly inaccurate (causing me to want to shout at the page/screen every five minutes), but the last thing I want to do after a long day at the office is to spend my precious leisure time back in the legal world, even a fictional version.

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  5. I wouldn't mind reading books featuring librarians (or my actual title, 'reference assistant') but I don't think I often do. One I enjoyed a few years ago was called The Dewey Decimal System of Love and involved a librarian who read The Forsyte Saga while drinking martinis! That could have played a role in where I am today...

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  6. Hi Si

    Thanks for kind consideration re recommending books on vicars. A Susan Howatch series a few years ago was rather truer about the doubts and sins of various clergy than is normally revealed in characters in PG Wodehouse or Agatha C.
    I suspect that LOTR may be on a long term hold. Reading books about Somerset history at present - fascinating tome that reveals that most parish income in mediaeval times came from social events (either "ales" or "holgings".

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  7. I love reading books about librarians - have you seen some of my recent posts about librarians in literature? You must have a look at Business as usual at some point, from the stacks - I think Alison has it up at the moment - it's very Bloomsbury Group ish and features a librarian!

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  8. I must admit that I have never really thought about it but, now that I have, I can't think that reading a book about someone whose job was evaluating (and improving!) financial processes and control would be that interesting! :(

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  9. Ha, I think I would be amused by a book about my profession, but I think it's a bit too geeky-business and obscure (One of those that you can't tell from the job title easily what a person does!) :)

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  10. There are very few books, or at least I haven't read them, that feature Particle Physicists as key characters. One of the few, and yes I have read it, is Dan Brown's Angel's and Demons but it was an opportunity missed and CERN, though about the most wonderful laboratory on the planet, isn't quite as exciting (or sinister) a place as he makes out.

    Do you remember that Batgirl, in one of her incarnations, was a librarian?

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  11. Well, I don't work in publishing as yet but that makes me all the keener to read books about publishing (i.e. Spark). Funnily enough I have just received two film recommendations based on my career dreams.

    I also love to watch films about writers.

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  12. Before I had children I was a scientist and I love books that contain science and scientists, but I do think I am more critical of books that contain them. So many authors get their facts wrong and I am more likely to notice these errors because I am knowlegable in the subject. If I was to read a book about a profession I know nothing about then I wouldn't spot these errors.

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  13. Not a lot of books out there featuring characters who work with transportation logistics and reporting systems. Particularly if you're looking for female characters. One of the things that bothers me most is how business women seem to be limited to Marketing and HR careers in most modern books (do not get me started on the dreaded PR girls). Where are the women in finance and accounting, not to mention IT?

    If you're not passing the vicar-related recommendations on to your father, want to pass them on to me? Of all the professions out there, I love to read about the clergy.

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  14. The only Vicar's Wives I can think of in literature are either a) appalling or b) surrounded by dead bodies! So, I'll stick with Primary School Teachers and snuggle down by the fire with a Miss Read! (Whose descriptions of the vaguaries of 'turtle stoves' and 'caretakers' take me back to my own school days!)

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  15. Simon, I have already located a copy of the book in my library system and ordered it. I saw that he also wrote other books about various kinds of china so may well have been a dealer. Working with antiques, and the people who collect them, is endlessly fascinating. Every day is an adventure of one sort or another. often ending with us covered in cobwebs. but oh, the stories I could [and often do] tell!

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  16. I have yet to find a book about the life of a fundraiser. Maybe there is one out there I haven't located yet? I don't think it would be very interesting though, apart from the schmoozing we get to do at canape and champagne parties to wheedle money out of people. The rest of the time it's just constant pointless meetings, doing lots of 'creative accounting' and filling in endless application forms...a thrilling plot for a novel! I think not! ;)

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  17. I think it depends on the profession, and the treatment. I mean, would a dentist (or anyone with teeth) enjoy Little Shop of Horrors?

    Carolyn, the Dewey Decimal etc sounds good, so I've ordered it from the library.

    Booksnob: Fundraising dull? Oh dear, I assumed it was full of clashing personalities and conflicting priorities and politics and broken promises. And "My cause is more worthy than your cause."

    I think as a retired Business Systems Analyst, I might want to read about such a character. Probably because even systems development is full of clashing personalities and conflicting priorities and politics and broken promises. And "My project is more urgent than yours."

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  18. Since my main careers (other than mother of four) have been in local newspaper journalism and PR, there are a fair number of books that feature them - but very few that are remotely accurate!
    As a former court reporter, don't get me started on how TV does magistrates courts either...

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  19. There aren’t many books that apply for me, but I have a particular favourite that I’ve always intended a brief post on, so I've taken the liberty of including a link and my answer can be found here

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  20. From one who loves to dredge around in antique shops and fairs, estate sales, consignment shops, etc., I have just ordered a copy of this little book. Sounds like my cup of tea as I am always interested in other people's "hunts and finds." Great fun!

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  21. Claire (Captive Reader), if you would like a novel featuring transportation logistics, then you might like The Maintenance of Headway by Magnus Mills, which Simon reviewed in an earlier post.

    Judging by the earlier comments, most readers seem to question the accuracy of novels that feature their own professions. Personally I love reading as antidote to the relative dullness of a day in the office, but dull can be good, for whilst I love reading about politics and power struggles I find that they are best avoided in real life.

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  22. No one seems to have pointed out that buying a book for someone else and then reading it yourself is blatant cheating in your 24 books thing.

    And I've not yet come across a book about an actuary. One day.

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  23. I love reading books about the different aspects of my life. Like Jackie, I too used to do science and love reading fiction that has physics/astronomy/history of science in it. Wish there was more of it:)

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  24. Well I'm not the first librarian to comment here! I do like reading books that star librarians (mysteries please) but not exclusively. It's just a novelty I indulge in sometimes. I think librarians are predisposed to enjoy reading books about their profession, for obvious reasons. There is always the risk, though, as earlier comments have pointed out, that when reading about my profession I'm quick to notice mistakes, and that's always a drag.

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