Why do offices make us so crazy?
March 5, 2008 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Looking for books about the absurdity of life in an office or corporate environment

I've been reading "Then We Came to the End" by Joshua Ferris. I am loving this book.

Are there any other books about life in offices that you would recommend? Bonus points if it focuses on the absurdity of life in such environments like Ferris's book does.

I saw this thread, but it doesn't quite emphasize what I'm looking for.
posted by reenum to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I recently read that Ferris book, and I thought it was kind of a retelling of Kings of Infinite Space by James Hynes. It isn't the same, but there are some real similarities of tone. In my opinion, the Hynes book is better.
posted by OmieWise at 1:03 PM on March 5, 2008

Company by Max Barry!
posted by theiconoclast31 at 1:05 PM on March 5, 2008

Seconding the Hynes book. To some degree, I'd say Nicholson Baker's "The Mezzanine" is about work (or lunch break). Fight Club, too.
posted by mattbucher at 1:06 PM on March 5, 2008

Any of the many Dilbert compilations? Does that count as a book?
posted by cgg at 1:06 PM on March 5, 2008

The Dilbert Principle.
posted by Melismata at 1:06 PM on March 5, 2008

posted by Melismata at 1:07 PM on March 5, 2008

Pastoralia by George Saunders. (Also his CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, which I haven't read yet.)
posted by tiburon at 1:10 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Parkinson's Law (C Northcote Parkinson) and The Peter Principle (Lawrence J Peter) have much to say on the subject of officialdom, bureaucracy and large organisations.

They are also very funny, even if they are decades old.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:11 PM on March 5, 2008

Bombardiers is basically Catch-22 rewritten for an office environment.
Microserfs is slightly tech dev biased but still fits the bill and is fantastically funny.
posted by oh pollo! at 1:14 PM on March 5, 2008

Something Happened is by the guy who wrote Catch-22, and is about the absurdity of the corporate environment.
posted by Rykey at 1:20 PM on March 5, 2008

I've read CivilWarLand in Bad Decline. The only story from that collection I remember having to do with the office is The 400-Pound CEO which is my favorite (with the title story and The Wavemaker Faulters coming in close seconds.)
posted by thebellafonte at 1:21 PM on March 5, 2008

"e" by Matthew Beaumont utterly hilarious - it's all "transcripts" of office emails. I cried laughing.
posted by tristeza at 1:24 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

JPod by Douglas Coupland is pretty good, it's (partially) about a group of young people working for a computer-game company and their office life. I believe a TV series based on it has started in the US recently. It's subtitled "Microserfs for the Google generation" (same author), but not having read it I can't say which is better...
posted by gregjones at 1:26 PM on March 5, 2008

posted by Netzapper at 1:27 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, Company by Max Barry. Great book.
posted by lpsguy at 1:32 PM on March 5, 2008

Up the Agency by Peter Mayle.
posted by slogger at 1:52 PM on March 5, 2008

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis.

Published more than 80 years ago, but you'll be amazed at how much things have(n't) changed.
posted by OilPull at 1:54 PM on March 5, 2008

Slab Rat by Ted Heller. Media focused, but still office based.
posted by jonathanbell at 2:03 PM on March 5, 2008

Much of Americana, by Don DeLillo.
posted by newmoistness at 2:21 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Doug Coupland's "Microserfs" has been mentioned, and it's awesome. At one point a programmer locks himself in his office after Bill Gates flames him, and his worried co-workers head to Costo, buy only flat foods, and shove them under the door.
posted by GaelFC at 2:33 PM on March 5, 2008

The Wages of Genius by Gregory Mone
posted by milkrate at 2:36 PM on March 5, 2008

Nthing "Microserfs". I find myself reading that off and on at odd moments just because it's so damn entertaining. "JPod" is a stylistic sequel, but not as good.
posted by greenland at 2:54 PM on March 5, 2008

Seconding "e" - holy crap that book is funny, if a comedy is indeed what you're looking for. Naturally, some of it is over the top, not unbelievably so.
posted by captainawesome at 2:57 PM on March 5, 2008

Nthing Microserfs and Jpod. Both very entertaining.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:00 PM on March 5, 2008

Bellwether by Connie Willis.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:31 PM on March 5, 2008

Thirding "e" -- I've bought it twice now and lost both copies to colleagues who passed them on to other colleagues who passed them on and on...
posted by mimi at 4:39 PM on March 5, 2008

Not sure if it counts, but the Dictionary of Corporate Bullshit had me in stitches.
posted by ostranenie at 5:56 PM on March 5, 2008

In addition to The Company, Jennifer Government by Max Berry.
Fat Bald Jeff.
posted by Rae Datter at 8:20 PM on March 5, 2008

Not books but here's Strong Bad on IT and Business Trips.
posted by XMLicious at 8:39 PM on March 5, 2008

You would love the movies Clockwatchers and Office Space.
posted by HotPatatta at 10:16 PM on March 5, 2008

Have to also nth Microserfs. Love that book. Coupland's great.

In keeping with the Canadian theme, Will Ferguson's Happiness, formerly published as Generica, might fit your bill. It's a satire concerning a man who works in the "slush pile" department of a self-help publishing company.
posted by ilana at 12:12 AM on March 6, 2008

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