The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
(1914) by Robert Tressell
I wasn't particularly irate at having to read this 650 page ish portrait of workers in the building trades in Edwardian England, even though half the book is simply diatribes about the plight of the working class, because it was free, and because I have plenty of time. At the same time, be me so humble to suggest that The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell is not, in fact, one of the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die. Although this list is exclusively fiction with a heavy emphasis on the Novel, this same subject (the plight of the English working class) is best treated in a non-fiction title, E.P Thompson's, The Birth of the English Working Class. Even in terms of fiction there are better titles that are not even included in the 1001 Books volume.
For example, Frank Norris wrote The Octopus(1901), which is essentially about the same subject/different milieu (Californian agricultural workers vs. English building trades.) To its credit, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is about as quick a read as a 600 page plus, early 20th century novel focused entirely on the plight of the working class can be. Would I suggest anyone else in the world read this book? No I would not. Replace it with The Octopus by Frank Norris, that is my suggestion.