A book involving an unpopular profession

“Unpopular profession”. Jobs no one likes? Jobs that few people do? Jobs people wish other people wouldn’t do? So many options!

All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Job: Security Unit (aka murderbot)
A book with a title that sounds like a bad idea (and it is!)
A book you can read in a day
A book with a fight scene
A book featuring someone who wears a mask (actually a helmet, but it hides behind it enough to count)

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
Job: mad scientist
A book with an even number of words in the title
A book from the middle of a series

Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop
Job: postal worker and prophet
A book with a verb in the title
A book from the middle of a series
A book involving a mythical being
A book with a fight scene

Artemis by Andy Weir
Job: welder and thief
Maybe none

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Job: battle royale participant
A book with an even number of words in the title
A book with a verb in the title
A book with a fight scene
Two books with the same title
A book with a title that sounds like a bad idea

The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn Heider
Job: I’m going with mad scientist here
A book with a title that sounds like a bad idea
A debut novel by a female author
A book with a verb in the title

About Grace
by Anthony Doerr
Job: Weather forecaster
I’m pretty convinced that the people enamored of Doerr are the same people who say things like “find your tribe”.

2020 Categories
A book with an even number of words in the title

Under Suspicion
by Margit Sandemo
Job: executioner
Oh hey, we’re back to early in this series, so it’s actually available in lots of languages. I know these books got optioned back in 2011, but I can’t find any information on if the tv series ever actually got made or if the option lapsed? Anyone read Norwegian?

2020 Categories
A history or historical fiction
A book involving a mythical being

Death of an Honest Man
by MC Beaton
Job: Cop
Since you can’t read the Hamish MacBeth books out of order, and I don’t have a strong opinion on the TV series, I’ll veer off topic to say the Agatha Raisin TV series is better than the books. It’s still got some… questionable elements, but at least Agatha is a morally bankrupt person you can understand.

2020 Categories
A book you can read in a day
A book from the middle of a series

Fingersmith
by Sarah Waters
Job: thief
Many people describe this book as “lesbian Dickens”. While they’re not wrong, it’s a bit misleading. Waters doesn’t write pastiche. She studied Victorian and Gothic literature in university, and several of her novels reflect that, producing lesbian Gothic romance, very much in the historical mode, right down to the melodrama.

2020 Categories
A history or historical fiction

Goblin Slayer
by Kumo Kagyu
Job: what it says on the tin
The reader did not specify volume number or if they’d read the light novel or the manga. It doesn’t really change much. Either way, you’re looking at very trashy fantasy, the sort of thing that gives “anime” a bad name (since apparently that’s what people are now calling the whole of Japanese pop culture that isn’t live action…). I’m seriously giving you side-eye for reading this if it was the manga, though, because the male gaze in this is deeply concerning.

2020 Categories
A book with an even number of words in the title
A book you can read in a day
A book with pictures
A book involving a mythical being
A book by a non-white author
A book with a fight scene

Kronprinsessen (The Crown Princess)
by Hanne-Vibeke Holst
Job: environment minister
This is the only Holst book that’s been translated into a language I can actually read, which I only discovered when it came up this week. I guess I’d better add it to my to read list and get back to y’all about it later!

2020 Categories
A book with a title in the title

Prime Meridian
by Sylvia Morena-Garcia
Job: companion for hire, plasma seller
Oh no, this is too close to me. I have, so far, avoided selling my blood or plasma to for-profit companies, at least. This element of the story was apparently less plausible than the Mars colony part for some readers, despite totally being a thing in the real world right this minute.

2020 Categories
A book with an even number of words in the title
Two books with the same title
A book you can read in a day
A book by an author from the Global South
A book by a non-white author
A book with a female or non-binary protagonist of color

Psychic Hotline
by Leonie Brialey
Job: see above
Australia, why do you do this to me? Brialey’s Twitter, at least, is informative and interesting. She stopped using Tumblr though, as far as I can tell, so I only get a taster of her comic style. It’s very spare, but it flows and grows and evolves depending on what is being conveyed.

2020 Categories
A book with an even number of words in the title
Two books with the same title
A book you can read in a day
A book with pictures
A book involving a mythical being

Bartleby, the Scrivener
By Herman Melville
Job: copyist
This short story has baffled capitalists for literal centuries now. I mean, how could anyone possibly reject life as a human photocopying machine, being paid a pittance for the most pointless of exercises?

2020 Categories
A book you can read in a day
A book from Project Gutenberg or Librivox

Pure
by Andrew Miller
Job: “grave robbing?”
This is the kind of literary novel that’s entirely about atmosphere and empty, needless metaphor. It’s irresistible cotton candy for the critics, but it doesn’t hold up against the jaundiced eye of someone who knows a little too much about the period or who has doubts that an establishment Brit can do justice to the last moments before the French Revolution exploded.

2020 Categories
A history of historical fiction
Two books with the same title
A book from a book
A book with a fight scene

Scharnow
by Bela B. Felsenheimer
Job: “cashier, prostitute, assassin…”
Machine translation took the German blurb and made it completely nonsensical. And so shall of us who do not speak German remain unenlightened.

2020 Categories
A book with an orange cover

Spook’s Dark Assassin
by Joseph Delaney
Job: assassin
The end of a YA trilogy, so you know I have definitely not read it.

2020 Categories
A book involving a mythical being
A book with a title that sounds like a bad idea
A book with a fight scene

The Guards
by Ken Bruen
Job: Cop & private detective
I am partial to this book for having been to Galway and invited to the Crane by a manager there. The show and the book are rather different, though recognizable from each other, and Iain Glen’s “Irish” accent is mostly not for the first few episodes. What I especially liked about this was its more realistic approach to alcoholism, and that Jack is an anti-hero whose head I’m willing to be in. After all, under the booze, he’s a total nerd.

2020 Categories
A book with an even number of words in the title
A book with a fight scene
A book set in or involving a restaurant (Jack is ejected from a number of pubs)

The Mars Room
by Rachel Kushner
Job: convict?
I haven’t read this. Sentimental literary endeavors to get the middle class to be outraged about things they should be outraged about don’t really appeal to me, and I’ve yet to find a review by someone who can allay my concerns about the presence of a black trans character. In fact, each subsequent review presents new details that just makes me more bothered, as well as revealing the reviewers’ blind spots.

2020 Categories
Two books with the same title (I don’t advise the other one, as the blurb looks like it was written by a neural net)
A book that makes you angry or sad
A book with a fight scene

The Only Harmless Great Thing
by Brooke Bolander
Job: radium girl
Originally, I thought Bolander must surely have gotten this premise from a NaNoWriMo prompt grab bag, and simply had more success executing it than I ever have. But now having spent too much time on her Twitter, I am convinced that she came to it all on her own through the same habit I have of researching the random-est idle questions, and putting one day’s research all in one book.

2020 Categories
A book you can read in a day
A history or historical fiction
A book that makes you angry or sad
A book involving a circus performer
A strangely structured book

The Tailor
by Leigh Bardugo
Job: tailor?
This is an excerpt or a cut chapter from a bigger YA novel and really doesn’t stand on its own as a short story, so it’s rather cheaty. Ahem.

2020 Categories
A book with an even number of words in the title
A book from the middle of a series
A book you can read in a day

The Doorman’s Repose
by Chris Radschka
Job: doorman
I didn’t know Radschka had ever done a chapter book. I thought he specialized in rather twee picture books with evocative art that feels like it should be framed instead of man-handled by grubby jam-covered fingers.

2020 Categories
A book with pictures
A book you can read in a day

Cicada
by Shaun Tan
Job: data entry; cicada
This is a children’s book. Just remember that when you, an adult, read it and are thoroughly traumatized. Interestingly, the cicada is never referred to by a pronoun, and in discussing the book, Tan uses “they”, but reviewers almost universally use “he”.

2020 Categories
A book with pictures
A book you can read in a day
A book by a non-white author
A book that makes you angry or sad
A book with an insect on the cover

Chop Suey Nation
by Ann Hui
Job: Chinese restaurant chef
Half memoir, half exploration of Chinese Canadian restaurant history. Hui skims too much on the history side of things – there’s morsels of interesting bits of history, and it’s probably enlightening to anyone who doesn’t know some Chinese-Canadian history, but it’s otherwise simply too shallow and breezy to dig into. Also, she skips entire provinces, which is a little awkward. On the other hand, the history of her own family is fascinating, and a great example of some of the different waves of immigration and their vastly different experiences, and really resonated with my own interactions with my Chinese-Canadian friends’ families.

2020 Categories
A book by a non-white author
A book by an author from the Global South (ymmv – her parents and grandparents were from China and Hong Kong, but she was born in Canada)
A book from a book list
A book involving or set in a restaurant
A debut novel by a female author (well, not a novel…)
A book with a female or non-binary protagonist of color
A book featuring a creative skill
A book involving a quest or treasure hunt

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