Each month we offer you a chance to read mindfully, using literature to consider your reactions to and assumptions about the world in which we live and work. Through these short texts and accompanying questions, we hope to give you a small taste of Books@Work. Grab a friend, family member or colleague to read, share and discuss together.
Winner of the National Book Critics’ Circle’s 2016 John Leonard Prize, Kirstin Valdez Quade’s debut short story collection Night at the Fiestas explores complicated race and class dynamics, with characters who “protect, betray, wound, undermine, bolster, define, and, ultimately, save each other.” The New York Times called the collection, which includes today’s story “Jubilee,” a “legitimate masterpiece.” Quade’s other work has appeared in various literary magazines, and she is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at Stanford University.
In “Jubilee,” a young woman finds her biases toward her father’s boss and his family challenged. What does it take to change our minds about someone we’ve previously judged?
Happy Friday! We’ve compiled our favorite articles and essays from the last month and beyond for you to browse and enjoy this weekend.
This summer, NPR shared a print segment about the work lives of oil rig workers from their podcast Invisibilia. In 1997, Shell began construction on “the world’s deepest offshore well,” a 48-story deepwater platform called Ursa. The unprecedented project challenged all notions of how the rig’s workers would plan and build safely. “Even though the men faced the risk of death every day,” one oil worker said, “they never showed any vulnerability. This made the work even more perilous, because the men didn’t ask for help, didn’t admit if they weren’t up to a certain job.”
Can being more vulnerable lead to a safer work environment?
By turns hilarious and heart-breaking, George Saunders’ short stories satirize the absurdities of every-day life and humanize even the strangest of characters. His story “Puppy” appears in his collection Tenth of December, winner of the 2013 Story Prize and a finalist for a National Book Award. In classic Saunders style, “Puppy” portrays a single situation – the purchase of a puppy – from the perspectives of multiple characters. As you read, think about the power of first impressions. What spurs us to judge others?