Books like severance pay to make you want to avoid the office forever

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Who knew a series about corporate office culture and the treatment of workers would resonate so strongly with everyone?

Ben Stiller’s new series on Apple TV+, Breakup, was a dormant under-the-radar hit that just released its season finale. If you haven’t watched it, Breakup asks a simple question at the start: would you accept a procedure that would “separate” your professional life from your personal life? Because that’s exactly what Mark Scout did after losing his wife. After all, there’s something appealing about giving up the hours you spend at work to another version of yourself that has no memory of the grief or misfortune you’re trying to escape.

Except that’s not quite how it works. Mark doesn’t realize this at first, because his regular self and his working self (his “outie” and his “innie”) know little about each other. Mark knows he works at Lumon, but he doesn’t know what he Is in Lumon. He knows he has colleagues, but he doesn’t know who they are. He enters the elevator, the dismissal protocol is activated, and he “wakes up” in the elevator once the work day is over.

The Mark within Lumon knows only…work. He does not sleep: his outie sleeps. He’s on and off in the elevator and doesn’t know anything about himself or his personal life. It is forbidden to bring messages outside the basement where they work. If they make mistakes, they are sent to the “break room” to be corrected. The only reading material they are allowed is the employee handbook, which reads like cult scripture dedicated to the founder of Lumon. Workers are infantilized and given silly little prizes for doing quota work that none of them understand.

Breakup slowly unravels the mystery of why the redundancy process was established in the first place, Lumon’s true reach, and the secrets Mark and his colleagues will uncover about the company and themselves. It’s a fascinating, comically dark, and deeply disturbing look at the culture and values ​​of the corporate office, as well as how workers are treated and viewed by companies that consider them “family.”

The tone and exploration of this show dovetails nicely with a number of books in the corporate horror, thriller, sci-fi, and dark comedy categories. These books also question the use of corporate loyalty tactics, the sheer monotony of repetitive work that seems to have very little meaning, and the unease that grows when one realizes how much of a hold of a business has on you, your life and even your own values.

Here are ten books like Breakup to keep you satiated until the second season.

10 books like Severance

The society by JF González

“Welcome to the financial family of companies.” Michelle Dowling is ready for this welcome, because she’s been waiting for a job like this all her life: a high five-figure salary. Great perks and benefits. She is ready to work hard to keep this new position as a financial consultant. What Michelle hasn’t understood, however, is the scope of her new venture – one that extends to her personal life and beyond.

Company of Max Barry Book cover

Company by Max Barry

Stephen Jones has started his new job at Zephyr Holdings, and he already has a few questions. Why do sales reps use self-help books as manuals? Why does the receptionist earn twice as much as anyone else for doing very little? Where is the CEO? What are they actually doing To do? Stephen is struck with a desperate need to know, and despite his colleague’s warnings, he digs into the strange policies of his new company himself – only to discover a darkness he hadn’t expected.

all her little secrets book cover by wanda morris

All her little secrets by Wanda M. Morris

Ellice Littlejohn has a great job as a corporate lawyer in Atlanta and a great relationship with her boss (with side benefits). All of this comes to an abrupt end when she finds her boss and sometimes her lover dead in his office with a bullet to the head. Ellice can’t get involved in this because she has her own secrets, but people are already starting to gossip, and she, the company’s only black lawyer, is promoted to take the job of her white boss. Ellice must uncover the truth and uncovers the secret underbelly of her business in the process. If you want books like Breakup but with a murder mystery angle, it will be a perfect fit.

the consultant by bentley small book cover

The consultant by Bentley Little

The CompWare merger failed and they are in serious trouble. To improve their public image, they hire a consultant to review the business and give their business strategy a makeover. Except that the consultant sent by the company is a little weird. Sinister. Asks inappropriate questions. Over time, the consultant somehow gains more power than they’re entitled to: changes in office protocol, new cameras throughout the building; calling employees home in the middle of the night, showing up at their front door. Those who challenge him are fired or worse. CompWare employees have more problems than a failed merger.

Cover of the book Lakewood by Megan Giddings

Lakewood by Megan Giddings

When Lena Johnson’s grandmother passed away, the last thing she expected was to have to drop out of college to help her family deal with the mountain of debt left behind by the family matriarch. To support her family, she takes a job that’s almost too good to be true: high pay, no medical bills, and free housing in Lakewood, Michigan. And that is Too good to be true. Because Lena discovers that the program she is participating in, which initially asked for nothing more than medical research participants for dementia cures and happy pills, is much, much more nefarious than that and has consequences. important for the participants.

the other me sarah zachrich jeng book cover

the other me by Sarah Zachrich Jeng

Kelly is on her way to a friend’s art show in Chicago when she opens a door and walks into her hometown of Michigan instead. Her life as an artist, as she knew it, is over, as her brain is now filled with 12 years of memories of a different life. Kelly is married to a man she barely knew in high school, in a life she doesn’t recognize. In her attempt to get back to her own life, she becomes suspicious of this new husband’s job at a tech startup. About how he denies the fights she remembers. Could he and his work have something to do with Kelly’s changing reality?

Personal Days book cover by Ed Park

Personal days by Ed Park

Office workers are a little concerned about the recent wave of layoffs that have come unexpectedly. They also go a little crazy with the work environment: the pervasive office culture, the meaningless corporate jargon, the office dramas and romances, the monotony and sometimes absurdity of their daily lives. in the office. Plus, an undercurrent of unease is growing as layoffs continue in a job none of them are sure they want. This is a terrific, dark look at what corporate office culture looks like today.

Cover of the book Inhuman Resources by Pierre LeMaitre

Inhuman resources by Pierre Lamaitre

Alain Delambre is 57 years old. He has been unemployed for four years and is desperately looking for work. The tide turns for him when a big company grants him an interview to be their HR manager, and Alain will do anything to get this job. Even if it means participating in the recruitment test: staging a hostage scenario. Everything would have been fine if Alain had not discovered that he was set up to fail. The hostage-taking scenario quickly becomes real in light of what Alain discovers, which can lead to tragic consequences.

#FashionVictim book cover by amina akhtar

#Fashion victim by Amina Aktar

Anya St. Clair has worked incredibly hard for the success she has today as a fashion editor. She has almost everything she could want, except one thing: the friendship of her colleague Sarah Taft. Sarah has it all: wealth, style, beauty. When Sarah and Anya compete for a promotion, Anya’s determination to befriend and beat Sarah for the role grows. So much, in fact, that she may just have to become Sarah to get what she wants.

megan goldin's escape room book cover

The escape room by Megan Goldin

It was just meant to be a team building challenge: an escape room inside an elevator. At least that’s what the four colleagues in Wall Street finance thought. Then the lights go out and they find out just how high the stakes in this “game” are – life or death. The game delves into their deepest secrets, revealing what they did to climb to the top. The question is, who will kill to survive?

For more books like Breakup, you might like these 5 books about surreal desks. For an SFF spin, try 12 of the best workplace fantasy novels. And if you’d rather feel a little more optimistic about the office, get these office love books.

Colin L. Johnson