• Work Won't Love You Back

  • How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone
  • By: Sarah Jaffe
  • Narrated by: Sarah Jaffe
  • Length: 12 hrs and 59 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (211 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A deeply-reported examination of why "doing what you love" is a recipe for exploitation, creating a new tyranny of work in which we cheerily acquiesce to doing jobs that take over our lives.

You're told that if you "do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life." Whether it's working for "exposure" and "experience," or enduring poor treatment in the name of "being part of the family," all employees are pushed to make sacrifices for the privilege of being able to do what we love.

In Work Won't Love You Back, Sarah Jaffe, a preeminent voice on labor, inequality, and social movements, examines this "labor of love" myth - the idea that certain work is not really work, and therefore should be done out of passion instead of pay. Told through the lives and experiences of workers in various industries - from the unpaid intern, to the overworked teacher, to the nonprofit worker and even the professional athlete - Jaffe reveals how all of us have been tricked into buying into a new tyranny of work.

As Jaffe argues, understanding the trap of the labor of love will empower us to work less and demand what our work is worth. And once freed from those binds, we can finally figure out what actually gives us joy, pleasure, and satisfaction.

©2021 Sarah Jaffe (P)2021 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about Work Won't Love You Back

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Book is fully disinterested in male laborers

Feminist pablum. Almost made a useful contribution to the labor movement, but decided to alienate and erase men from as much of the discussion as possible. I was ready to hear about some universal human truths, and it's just rote feminist revisionism. So it's a useful contribution to the feminist movement. But dang, I don't know how I got here from Jane McAlevey and Thomas Frank (i.e. real labor writers). I wasn't in any way looking for a book about men's issues. I was looking for one on labor issues in general. Apparently it's just the female laborers that need the sympathy. Just triage, right? My dad was treated like a soulless object by his work. Worked 12 hour shifts, 12 days in a row. Got 4 hours of sleep a night till his heart failed at 50. When it was time to do a wellness check on his missing body, they knocked, shrugged, and let him rot alone in his apartment for a week. They could only identify him by his teeth. That was in 2020. This stuff is very personal to me. I've got dozens more anecdotes I'm not going to diminish the importance of, simply because the protagonists were male. I can't get more than 5 chapters in. I'm probably missing a lot of interesting info, but Sarah has lost my trust. You're not going to convince me I'm an afterthought. Could have just wrote a gender neutral book. It was a simple rhetorical choice. It would have made all the difference to me.

21 people found this helpful

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Okay, but nothing new

With such a provocative forward and title, I was expecting something revolutionary. Although all the points were good, very few were new. Maybe 20% of this book contained content I had not read before. If you’re well-read and we’ll-informed, I wouldn’t recommend it. As a starter for those interested in worker exploitation and collective resistance for the first time, it provides a good, basic foundation.

6 people found this helpful

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  • 04-18-21

A valuable reminder

I really enjoyed the performance and theme of this book. As a junior professor, the chapter on academia was particularly personal. I've previously complained of the exploitative nature of academic labor from junior faculty, adjuncts, post docs and grad students. The bogus argument of "you should feel lucky to be here" as a justification for poor treatment was called out explicitly in this book and allowed those of us in one of these career fields see the common thread across many others (such as sports, tech and home care). Even more importantly, the book gave us permission to be declare the mental and emotional exhaustion of being in a culture and work environment where nonstop work is glorified. We do not have to feel inept for hitting a wall or needing recovery time. I hope many people read that it inspires us to demand more of our jobs and more of life instead of just work.

5 people found this helpful

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It's like...

This is a well written college paper maybe graduate level. Followed a solid argumentative framework. She makes her case well. Its informative. I have to take a break half way due to the tone. By tone I mean my first sentence. I would advise on reducing the redundancy of the phrase "It's like".

4 people found this helpful

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Couldn't get past the first chapter

Thus isn't what I thought it might be.

Too much underlying political opinion for me. Could have been foundational, but it didn't feel like it.

2 people found this helpful

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A Necessary Read of People and History

Like any nonfiction, there are moments it can be dry, but unlike much nonfiction and textbook history, it captures complexity and people. Regardless of one's politics, it is extraordinarily important to see how people are often exploited by their employers, even in important jobs doing what we believe in, like teaching, caretaking, art, or nonprofit work (even at a place like Planned Parenthood). Even if we are lucky enough to love our job, we should not let those in charge exploit us for free labor, "for the kids," "for the community," while others then profit off that labor. And while we can love what we do, people taking advantage of that can ruin it. While we can love what we do, loving people is far more important than loving a job, which, by definition, is work.

1 person found this helpful

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I Heard You

I mean. Granted. My walls were fractured before when it comes to work. But as I head into a new career, I needed your words. I mean.. it's why I got the book lol

Just know your goal you mention for writing the book was met with me!

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Must read for all Workaholics!

This book had a lot of personal and intellectual "aha" moments for me. Working in public education for 30 years and during the pandemic has pushed me prematurely toward retirement but I have new perspectives about it. The history of work is fascinatingly analyzed in a way that you will never look at any industry the same again.

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ttle misleading not a self help book

Not a self help book, the title is misleading, If you want to know why jobs suck, this book Is for you. The first part of the book was interesting and the reason why the book appealed to me in the first place, I could not finish the book, I know the system Is broken, I didn't really need somebody gave more details about this, It doesn' propose any solutions, also Is very gender sided, I had High expectations and left me with no hopes to improve my working life, well probably this, most jobs suck so don't give your life to the company because the system Is designed not to make happy employees, instead, to suck everything out off you if you let them, (even if you don't let them because there is mortgage and bills o pay) here is small number of people who have decent working conditions and if you are lucky enough you can work on what you love and somehow with your rules, and I mean working conditions which I think this books is most about. Give it a try if your are interested to learn current working conditions in case you live in a Bubble.

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Long overdue

It needed to be said. It the one thing I learned early on in my employment life, work won't love you back. Great read!