What We Are Reading Today: Workers’ Tales

Updated 24 October 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Workers’ Tales

  • In Workers’ Tales, acclaimed critic and author Michael Rosen brings together more than 40 of the best and most enduring examples of these stories in one beautiful volume

Edited by Michael Rosen

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, unique tales inspired by traditional literary forms appeared frequently in socialist-leaning British periodicals, such as the Clarion, Labour Leader, and Social Democrat.
Based on familiar genres— the fairy tale, fable, allegory, parable, and moral tale— and penned by a range of lesser-known and celebrated authors, including Schalom Asch, Charles Allen Clarke, Frederick James Gould, and William Morris, these stories were meant to entertain readers of all ages — and some challenged the conventional values promoted in children’s literature for the middle class. In Workers’ Tales, acclaimed critic and author Michael Rosen brings together more than 40 of the best and most enduring examples of these stories in one beautiful volume.
Throughout, the tales in this collection exemplify themes and ideas related to work and the class system, sometimes in wish-fulfilling ways. In “Tom Hickathrift,” a little, poor person gets the better of a gigantic, wealthy one. In “The Man Without a Heart,” a man learns about the value of basic labor after testing out more privileged lives.
And in “The Political Economist and the Flowers,” two contrasting gardeners highlight the cold heart of Darwinian competition. Rosen’s informative introduction describes how such tales advocated for contemporary progressive causes and countered the dominant celebration of Britain’s imperial values.


What We Are Reading Today: Running to The Edge

Updated 22 July 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Running to The Edge

Author: MATTHEW FUTTERMAN

Drawing a direct line from coaching high school students to Olympic medalists and Boston Marathon winners, Matthew Futterman tells the story of coach Bob Larsen and his efforts to unlock the secrets of running far fast.
Futterman, a deputy sports editor at The New York Times,  is a “good writer and he knows how to heighten the drama,” a critic commented in goodreads.com. 
The review added: “Thanks to a deft, fast-paced writing style and especially great characterizations that bring unheralded high schoolers to life just as vividly as national champions, this is the best book on running since Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run.”
In a review for The New York Times, critic Katie Arnold said: “In personal vignettes interspersed throughout the book, the author recounts his own forays in the sport, from his first five-miler, at age 10, to soggy slow marathons and hitting the wall in Central Park. Though at times these scenes distract from the central narrative, they remind us that the allure of running — just like its tolls — is universal, regardless of where we finish in the pack.”