Work It! Celebrate Labor Day with 5 Great Books Featuring Unusual Jobs

We like to think of Labor Day as one final hurrah for the summer; the last day of vacation before retuning to school and routine, with arbitrary rules built around it revolving the changing of the seasons, like don’t wear white once it has passed. But it didn’t start out as a day to laze about, mourning the end of our favorite season. Labor Day was originally about working, not taking the day off.

In Canada and then in the United States, Labor Day began as a day of recognition of the achievement of workers, who fought for fair schedules and workdays, bolstering unions and eventually ushering in the current norm of an eight-hour work day, adopted as standard by labor organizations around the world.

In the spirit of Labor Day’s roots and evolution, take a look at these five books that feature protagonists with unusual jobs. Because if you’re going to have a day off thanks to the labors of others, you may as well spend it reading.


Tooth and Nail: The Making of a Female Fight Doctor by Linda D. Dahl

Linda Dahl is a doctor, but not just any kind of doctor: Dahl is a fight doctor, ministering to the injuries of prizefighters from her ringside perch. This memoir recounts her year as one of the only female fight doctors in the sports world, and the challenges of fitting into a world most women don’t get to see.


Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison

Mindy Wright is a superstar skier in the making, taking the slopes by storm. Her training and practice is intense, but they only help to prepare her the job she has to do—and for the shocking turns her life takes when her world comes crashing down after one fateful run.


Guess Who by Chris McGeorge


Morgan Sheppard has a gift for solving mysteries, and parlays that into a career as an investigative expert on tabloid TV. But while Sheppard knows how to be an armchair sleuth in front of the cameras, he has to put his job to the test when he finds himself embroiled in a real life murder mystery—and he’s a suspect as well as a detective.


Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

Harry is a nature lover and analyst for the US Forest Service—until his wife dies and his grief thrusts him into melancholy and uncertainty. Looking for solace, Harry travels to the remote northern Pennsylvania woods, where he finds another soul looking for peace and comfort among the trees.


The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise

Alex Cohen has just reluctantly taken over his family’s shoe factory in southern China, but is shocked to discover the corruption and exploitation taking place, endangering workers on the factory floor. As workers, led by a seamstress named Ivy, begin to plot a revolutionary change, Alex must decide if his loyalties align with his family or with progress.



What will you be reading over the last long weekend of the summer? Let us know in the comments!

    Karen Green

    Karen Green is a freelance writer and big city ex-pat now living in rural Ontario. She writes for numerous print and online publications, and considers her library card to be one of her most valuable possessions.

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