What We Are Reading Today: Workers’ Tales

Updated 24 October 2018

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: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Updated 11 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist.

It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother— his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life, according to review published on goodreads.com.

The 18 personal essays collected in this book are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Noah illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty.

His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time.