Popsugar Reading Challenge category: A favorite prompt from a previous year's challenge (A book about your actual or ideal occupation)
Bloody Social Worker, by Richard Wills
This is a memoir by a social worker who spent thirty years in the trenches in Manchester, working with mentally ill clients, substance abusers, and other unglamorous clients. He starts the book by describing his own suicide attempt at age 13, though even in hindsight he can't entirely explain it, or whether it contributed to his choice to work with people in desperate circumstances.
Despite our reputation for being idealistic, the social workers I've known are tough and practical, and Wills is no exception. The book is filled with colorful anecdotes, some of them darkly funny, like trying to get an upset female client in the car to return home, and having to explain to police that he was her social worker and not a kidnaper. Others were simply heartrending, seeing clients start to stabilize their lives and then seeing them slide back into drugs or mental illness.
The most draining struggles, though, were the financial and systemic obstacles that limited how much he could do for his clients or his overtaxed colleagues. I'm in a different branch of social work in a different country, but when Wills hit the point where he just couldn't deal with the system anymore, I entirely understood.