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The 10 Best Books About Miserable Media Jobs

So you think you want to work in media. We asked Jessica Grose, former Slate and Jezebel editor and author of this month’s Sad Desk Salad, what books she would recommend for anyone considering a career in blogging. She did us one better with this comprehensive list on the less glamorous side of publishing, advertising, and film — fields notorious for high burn out, abusive bosses, and soul-crushing competition.

Grose’ debut novel, the story of a young blogger who must decide just how much more she’ll compromise for her life in the media grind, is partially inspired by her own experiences as a stay-at-home writer. “There’s a way you can become a total weirdo couch gremlin when you don’t have to go outside and talk to people every day,” Grose told us. “It’s a bizarre phenomenon that can make you lose a little bit of perspective.” And the title, a reference to “prime-posting time” (or when cubicle dwellers chomp on their midday salads while scrolling celebrity gossip), came to her on her desk at Slate in late fall 2010. “I Tweeted something about having a sad desk salad, and the novelist and writer Lily Burana tweeted back to me something like, that would make a great novel title.”

Needless to say, anyone part of depressing desk-lunch culture will appreciate this story. And those with “sad media” jobs needn’t despair completely, for Grose offered this bit of affirmation: “If you think it’s a stepping stone for a job that is not sad and that you’d actually want some day, stick it out and suck it up; you won’t be there forever.”

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

“McInerney’s debut novel is about a fact checker at a highbrow publication with an imperious boss and a cocaine problem who is floundering in both his career and his personal life. He was once a fact checker at the New Yorker in real life.”