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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
9,539192534 (3.73)215
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)
Recently added byannajobeck, private library, equanimity23, KABarnes, Tip44, kingbrini, emaoping, scandigrace, danielgoettel, robinmedina
Legacy LibrariesJack Layton
  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
    Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance (Othemts)
  7. 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.
  8. 00
    Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain by James Bloodworth (nessreader)
  9. 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.
  10. 00
    Mcquaig Linda : Canada'S Social Welfare by Linda McQuaig (bhowell)
  11. 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.
  12. 03
    Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America by Mike Yankoski (infiniteletters)
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» See also 215 mentions

English (186)  Italian (2)  All languages (188)
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
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 |
-- At almost 60 y.o. this female reviewer has spent all yrs. after college graduation doing entry-level work at entry-level wages so was glad to finally read Ehreneich's NICKEL AND DIMED in a bookstore's "free" box. -- ( )
  MinaIsham | Mar 2, 2020 |
I wanted to start out by giving this book a harsh review. I spent the first quarter being annoyed by Ehrenreich's tone: especially her consistent attitude of amazement that this is what people live like. Nearly every paragraph was met with a "well, duh" from me or a "oh poor little you". The strange mixture of awe and contempt that suffused the book never stopped making me wince.

And then, I came to a startling (if obvious) revelation. This book was not for me.

If you're someone who already recognizes the deplorable conditions and near-impossible odds poverty-level Americans face, then this book will make you roll you want to punch the author a little bit.

If you're not, then this book is for you. Ehrenreich does an excellent job of confronting the most rampant of poor stereotypes and, more often than not, finds them completely false. I imagine that it'd be an eye-opening book. ( )
  thewanlorn | Feb 24, 2020 |
(Quibble: I was all of seven years old when welfare reform was instituted, so many of Ehrenreich's attacks against the reform went completely over my head. I couldn't recall anything about this legislation while reading.)

While interesting, Ehrenreich's account never really connected with me on any level.
Basically, the book covers three points: 1) minimum wage sucks, 2) businesses sucks, and 3) welfare reform sucks. ( )
  treehorse | Nov 7, 2019 |
A nice piece of writing, but I suppose I expected more. Barbara Ehrenreich, a woman with a Ph.D in Biology decides to go and write about the Working Poor in America. She goes and gets entry level jobs in three different states with caveats. She tries to get homes that are acceptably classed, but not too badly. She doesn't feel like starving, and some other things. Like she has a bank account and savings but only uses it in dire circumstances.

So she starts in Florida, the place near where she lives, goes to Maine, and then to Minnesota. She does many jobs but is surprised that though it is supposed to be 'unskilled' labor, a lot of the jobs require concentration and learning things. Even back then she acknowledged the wage gap, and figured that people would eventually go for living wages. So it is interesting in being foresighted, but it feels rather hollow to me.

So in all, the book was okay but I didn't like it as much as I though I would. At least it is short though. I mean, there's only so much you can go and write about a minimum wage job. Mostly it's about the relationships she makes and stuff like that. In the end this is only a project, so it's like a short glance at something that people live every day. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 186 (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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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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