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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001)

by Barbara Ehrenreich

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,825192545 (3.73)217
Nickel and Dimed is a modern classic that deftly portrays the plight of America's working-class poor. Author Barbara Ehrenreich decides to see if she can scratch out a comfortable living in blue-collar America. What she discovers is a culture of desperation, where workers often take multiple low-paying jobs just to keep a roof overhead.… (more)
  1. 40
    Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado (4leschats)
    4leschats: Both deal with the cyclical nature of poverty and its ability to trap people.
  2. 30
    Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (WoodsieGirl)
    WoodsieGirl: To see how little things change...
  3. 30
    The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy by Lisa Dodson (zhejw)
    zhejw: In the 1990s, Barbara Ehrenreich goes "undercover" to discover how low wage workers (don't) get by. In the next decade, Lisa Dodson tells the stories of some such workers and their children, but focuses her time on those who supervise and serve them, subverting the system to help.… (more)
  4. 10
    Working in the Shadows: A Year of Doing the Jobs (Most) Americans Won't Do by Gabriel Thompson (Euryale)
    Euryale: Thompson's work focuses more on the nature of low wage work and the ways immigrants are segregated in certain industries or departments, rather than on housing conditions or whether the wages are sufficient for survival.
  5. 10
    Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam W. Shepard (amyblue)
  6. 00
    Selling Ben Cheever: Back to Square One in a Service Economy by Benjamin Cheever (nessreader)
    nessreader: Both about middle class writers adrift in the service economy and being miserable there.
  7. 00
    Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance (Othemts)
  8. 00
    Mcquaig Linda : Canada'S Social Welfare by Linda McQuaig (bhowell)
  9. 00
    On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane by Emily Guendelsberger (LAKobow)
  10. 00
    Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain by James Bloodworth (nessreader)
  11. 11
    Dishwasher: One Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States by Pete Jordan (Othemts)
    Othemts: A pair of books that show the conditions for the worker in America's least desirable jobs.
  12. 02
    Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki (readysetgo)
    readysetgo: An opposing view to the fatalistic tone of this book.
  13. 03
    Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America by Mike Yankoski (infiniteletters)

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» See also 217 mentions

English (189)  Italian (2)  All languages (191)
Showing 1-5 of 189 (next | show all)
All too true. ( )
  mbellucci | Apr 10, 2021 |
Gimmicky. The author always had her funds to fall back on (and she did). It felt like another patronizing look at the poor in America. I think those who have lived paycheck to paycheck would appreciate this much less than those who haven't ever had to struggle. Nothing shocking, nothing new unless you're completely out of touch. And I never quite felt the author "got it." ( )
  GiGiGo | Feb 5, 2021 |
Not much has change in the decade since I re-read this book. ( )
  bit-of-a-list-tiger | Oct 17, 2020 |
I made the mistake of looking over some of the reviews when I was adding it here to my list. The opinions are pretty divided: the conservatives pretty much attack her credentials (or attack her ad hominem; point is sympathy is usually lacking in these folks), and those who agree seem to do uncritically (i.e. they don't question the author as much). I will try to put those opinions aside as I read it myself. I have been meaning to read it because some of the freshman composition classes where I used to work as a librarian read it for their classes. I finished the introduction, so I am already clear on the conditions of her experiment. We'll see how the rest of the book goes.

* * * *

See my blog post on it:


In the GoodReads scheme, I gave it 3 stars for a book I liked. It is not a book I really like since I wish things were better, thus not needing to write books like these. That is the idealist part of me. She does get a bit preachy at time,s which I think can detract, so that also made me not give it a higher rating. However, I do highly recommend it to others out there. ( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
This book is a good expose on the myth that the United States is a classless society, an assertion so blind that it would be comical if it were not one of the major myths perpetrated by corporate media. In fact, the newspaper series in the New York Times a couple of years ago which purported to be about class spent a good three quarters of the time trying to maintain this myth.

Barbara Ehrenreich does her best to try to survive on entry-level jobs, and finds herself struggling severely. Eye opening on the level of Fast Food Nation. I read it for university. It surprised me only because I didn't grow up in a household that actually lived like Ms. Ehrenreich, which a good majority of the country does. If you didn't, you might catch some insight, but nothing more than you would working at a similar job and trying to pay rent. ( )
  magonistarevolt | Apr 30, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 189 (next | show all)
We have Barbara Ehrenreich to thank for bringing us the news of America's working poor so clearly and directly, and conveying with it a deep moral outrage and a finely textured sense of lives as lived.

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara Ehrenreichprimary authorall editionscalculated
Guglielmina, PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gustafsson, KerstinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piven, Frances Foxsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tamminen, LeenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Mostly out of laziness, I decide to start my low-wage life in the town nearest to where I actually live, Key West, Florida, which, with a population of about 25,000 is elbowing its way up to the status of a genuine city.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Nickel and Dimed is a modern classic that deftly portrays the plight of America's working-class poor. Author Barbara Ehrenreich decides to see if she can scratch out a comfortable living in blue-collar America. What she discovers is a culture of desperation, where workers often take multiple low-paying jobs just to keep a roof overhead.

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Very interesting, appalling narration and discussion of the writer's foray into living as does America's employed underclass, the working poor. Learning to do new tasks at each new poorly paid position, knowing no one, and unable to pay rent, eat, and take care of the bills is the daily norm for millions in this position and Ms. Ehrenreich tells it -- and shows it -- like it is.
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