Best Books About Offices: Author Patricia Nicol recommends books that focus on jobs for people on the desk
- Patricia Nicol shared a selection of fascinating books with offices
- Secrets We Kept investigates the CIA’s involvement in the publishing of Doctor Zhivago
- Towards The End Of The Morning is set in an exciting newspaper office
Our city centers are suffering. The government would like us to return to the office, but many employees are less enthusiastic.
I’ve been a home worker for eight years now. A few years ago my husband joined me there. I was worried at the time, especially since I loved having the house to myself every now and then.
But once it was established, we would never be the kind of co-workers to have water cooler moments, deliver hot drinks to each other, or pause for imaginative al desko lunches, I relaxed. Usually we ignored each other until the children had to be picked up or we arranged a drink.
Then lockdown happened, and to be fair, if I had an office to escape to that wasn’t the guest bedroom, or the suddenly overcrowded kitchen table, I would have been happy at recess.
British literary expert Patricia Nichol shares a selection of fascinating office books, including Secrets We Kept (pictured left) and Towards The End Of The Morning (pictured right)
Given that many of us have spent years of our lives – even decades – with certain colleagues, there should be more novels set within offices and their often crazy political structures.
A modern classic is Joshua Ferris’ impressive Then We Came To The End. Published in 2007, and set in a Chicago advertising agency that went through a downturn on the internet in the late 1990s, the poignancy and dark humor come from not being written from the perspective of one employee, but from across the team, in the first-person multiple story.
It’s a literary device skillfully re-deployed by Lara Prescott in The Secrets We Kept, her novel about how the CIA got involved in publishing Doctor Zhivago in the West and then smuggled it into the USSR. Her opening chapter is written from a typing pool perspective.
I have spent most of my desk life in newspaper offices, sometimes overly garish, eccentric and highly pressured open environments. One of the most lovable portrayals of someone not on the news comes in Michael Frayn’s 1967 comedy novel Towards The End Of The Morning.
If you miss office life, try one of these.