Grindstone Cowboys

Work gets such a bad rap, but it’s not all limp sandwiches and rooting fruitlessly around stationary cupboards, you know? 

Some people have strange and exciting jobs that are so entertaining they write books about them. Here are a few that we would heartily recommended, all available at your local internet.

The Kid Stays in the Picture 
by Robert Evans
Ever wondered what it’d be like to be a Hollywood movie exec? Notorious Tinseltown royalty Robert Evans transformed himself from C-List actor into the powerful honcho behind such classics as Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby and The Godfather. This is a fast-paced, fascinating memoir from an impatient man who annulled his fifth marriage, to the actress Catherine Oxenberg, after just nine days… and yet somehow found the focus to write an enormous book. Granted, it’s all about himself.

Born Standing Up 
by Steve Martin
Plenty of stand-up comedians have attempted to capture the essence of their work in a book, but few have managed it with the same heady mix of confidence and humility as Steve Martin. From his early career as a lad working at Disneyland, through his forays into bad magic (as in joke magic tricks, not the dark arts), through crippling panic attacks, all the way up to the cusp of his life as a movie star, his funniest joke remains saying “thank you, thank you” long after the audience has stopped applauding.

by Iceberg Slim
A long-time favourite in hip hop circles, lore has it that the iconic West Coast rapper Ice-T selected his moniker as an homage to the notorious pimp/author, Iceberg Slim. His autobiography is certainly a gripping one, and one which doesn’t shirk from the brutal realities and petty triumphs of working as a pimp in the 1940s and 50s, all told with a near-poetic hybrid of slang and more traditional prose. Part uncompromising memoir, part lunge for some kind of redemption, it’ll make you glad of your office job.

by Tina Fey
The first female head writer on Saturday Night Live, the writer of Mean Girls, the creator of 30 Rock, and an unyielding spirit in an industry made up of conformists and yes men. Tina Fey is great, you probably don’t need a book to tell you that, but even so, let it. Take a few hours out of your life to further hammer the point home, and enrich your days with the story of someone realising their ambitions, transforming from timid dork to comedy colossus, while being consistently lovely and inspiring along the way.

Just Kids 
by Patti Smith
Is being “a struggling artist” really a job? It all seems such a blur, some would surely call it “a lifestyle”? Whichever way, when it comes to dollars and cents, Patti Smith’s penniless beginnings as an artist have certainly paid off, and alongside the 1975 album Horses this, a journey through her relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, might just be the best work she’s ever done. It paints a vivid picture of young mavericks trying to make it in the Chelsea Hotel/Warhol’s Factory New York of the 60s and 70s.

by Andre Agassi
As a general rule, few things in life are more cumbersome than wading through a sportsman’s biography – all too often straining at the sides with blandisms, not to mention the whiff of hours spent chucking thoughts on the floor for a ghostwriter to sweep up. This is a glorious exception, full of the realities of life as a reluctant sportsman, from a champion who admits to hating tennis. He was a great entertainer on the court, little did we know about the turmoil that greeted him off it. The best ever returner serves an ace.