Storytime for Grownups: Labor Day edition

At the beginning of September, people all over the country pause to celebrate the American workforce. This month, as we take a moment to think about what it means to be a part of the labor market in today’s economy, we look back into the past and forward towards a prosperous future with these selections compiled by Adam S. Davis, the Manager, Main Library and Outreach Services at the Palm Beach County Library System.

Nobodies : modern American slave labor and the dark side of the new global economy / John Bowe: A fascinating look into modern slavery a topic which many people are unaware of. This book should be of particular interest to Floridians, as Bowe exposes slavery in the tomato fields of Immokalee.

Storm of the century : the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 / Willie Drye: Labor Day has a special meaning for Floridians as it marks the day that a category 5 storm hit the Keys in 1935. In addition to a heavy loss of life, this storm flattened landscapes and set records that, to this day, still bring chills to the bone.

Nickel and dimed : on (not) getting by in America / Barbara Ehrenreich: Ehrenreich goes undercover as an “unskilled” laborer in restaurants, as a maid, and other low-paying jobs from Florida to Maine to provide the reader with a firsthand account of what it’s like to be caught in the cycle of poverty in modern day United States.

Cesar Chavez [DVD] / directed by Diego Luna: This 2014 biopic documents the life and struggles of civil rights activist and labor organizer Cesar Chavez as he comes of age in the fields of the American West and then into the national spotlight during strikes and boycotts in the early 1970s.

The grapes of wrath / John Steinbeck: Steinbeck’s award-winning tome is, of course, an American classic. Though many of us dreaded reading it as high school and college students, it’s worth returning to as an adult. What has changed since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s? What can we learn from this epic drama and what are we doomed to repeat?

The warmth of other suns : the epic story of America’s great migration / Isabel Wilkerson: The Great Migration (1915-1970), though largely untold, was the largest internal migration in U.S. history, involving millions of African Americans who journeyed from the South to the West and North for a better life. Wilkerson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and this book is listed by the U.S. Department of Labor as a “book that shaped work in America.”

LearningExpress Database a resource for Palm Beach County residents who want to advance in their career! As we reflect on the history of the American worker, its also important to look to the future. LearningExpress is a trove of resources to help any Palm Beach County Library System cardholder advance in their career. From skill-building modules to test preparation (fire fighter, postal worker, and many more), to learning techniques for job-searching a resumé-building, take a gander 24 hours a day at


Be sure to check out the list of summer reading, a listing of patriotic titles that can’t be missed, and a few titles that make going back to school a bit less stressful. Keep an eye on this column for a new and exciting list of books to check out each month.