5 Books to Read for International Worker’s Day

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R E C O M M E N D A T I O N – B O O K

Tasnia Shahrin

1 May is celebrated worldwide as International Workers’ Day (also known as May Day). On this day, we honour labourers, labour movements and raise awareness for workers’ rights. We seek to celebrate this day by raising awareness through a list of books. The following books will present to you stories showing the struggles of less privileged workers and slaves, which will make you reflect on today’s workers’ situation.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Daily labourers are independent beings like any of us who take up jobs to earn a livelihood. Yet, because society considers their job to be “trivial”, they are often deemed as slaves. And that is why it’s recommended that we read a book that gives us a raw insight of slavery.

Beloved presents the brutal truth behind slavery brilliantly. A mother hanging from a tree; the vile debasement of a nursing mother; scars so deep from whipping that they make a design of a tree on a woman’s back; a bloodied dead baby, etc symbolise how genuinely horrific slavery was. This book will present to you a harsh side of the world in streams of consciousness.

Animal farm by George Orwell 

In this masterpiece, Orwell criticises the political maneuvers and totalitarian rule using animals to explain what humans do to less privileged people. It further tells how the ruling class makes a fool out of the working class by using labourers’ energy and resources for their own benefits. Besides, it also discusses how the working class is being brainwashed despite the obvious slavery they have been undergoing. Highly recommended for understanding the essence of May Day.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

On a surface level, this book might appear to be about the meatpacking industry; however, it is mainly about the plight of a poor immigrant family in Chicago and about the struggles of poor people in the country at that time.

Through this book, the author tries to bring light to the disgusting ways in which people were forced to live, the way they were manipulated, ripped off, and neglected; as well as how sometimes they were even killed by the very community that profited from their cheap labour. It’s an incredible book, and its themes are still much relevant for today’s capitalistic world.

Germinal by Emile Zola

Germinal was published in 1885 and is considered the main work of Emile Zola. It describes the inhumane conditions in the mines of the French coal mining area of the 19th century.

The novel sheds light on the conflicts that arise between capitalists and miners, but also between workers themselves who disagree on how the terrible conditions can be overcome.

The White Tiger by Arvavind Adiga

This much popular novel has recently been made into a Bollywood film that provides a darkly humorous perspective of India’s class struggle in a globalised world, told through a retrospective narration from Balram Halwai, a village boy. Being the neighbouring country, our condition is not much different than India’s, and hence this book will put forward a relatable picture of the less privileged people in our society.


Tasnia is a proud Slytherin who loves binging on poetry and graphic novels in her free time.

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