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Extended Audio Sample Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (123,682 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Barbara Ehrenreich Narrator: Cristine McMurdo-Wallis Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job, any job, can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on six dollars an hour?

To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered no job is truly “unskilled,” that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned one job is not enough; you need at least two if you want to live indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity, a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Listen to it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich’s perspective and for a rare view of how “prosperity” looks from the bottom. You will never see anything—from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal—in quite the same way again.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Barbara Ehrenreich is smart, provocative, funny, and sane in a world that needs more of all four.”

    Diane Sawyer

  • “Reading Ehrenreich is good for the soul.”

    Molly Ivins

  • “Captivating…promise that you will read this explosive little book cover to cover and pass it on to all your friends and relatives.”

    New York Times

  • “Impassioned, fascinating, profoundly significant, and wildly entertaining…Nickel and Dimed is not only important but transformative in its insistence that we take a long hard look at the society we live in.” 

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Valuable and illuminating…Barbara Ehrenreich is our premier reporter of the underside of capitalism.”

    New York Times Book Reveiw

  • “Ehrenreich is passionate, public, hotly lucid, and politically engaged.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Ehrenreich’s scorn withers, her humor stings, and her radical light shines on.”

    Boston Globe

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of a 2002 YALSA Alex Award
  • Winner of the 2001 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest
  • One of the 2001 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction
  • An Indie Next Recommendation

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Chris Ross | 2/17/2014

    " I listened to the audio book and I found it very interesting. I will say that I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who work minimum wage jobs. I have been working since I was 12 as a paper boy and worked at minimum wage jobs from age 16 until age 24 and my first real job was as a cook in a chicken restaurant and that was enough to make me want to go to college if I did not already have my own drive to do so. I believe that raising the minimum wage is not the answer and that getting an education is a better solution to raising the minimum wage. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Hannah Scully | 2/15/2014

    " Showed you a different side of the working class of America. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Wendy | 2/15/2014

    " I thought this book offered great insight into the lives of the working poor. I think some people expected that the author would immerse herself completely into the experience, but I don't think her intention was to prove it's tough to live on minimum wage. I think her purpose was to learn how people on minimum wage make ends meet and also why it's so tough to break out of poverty. I think she achieved both those goals. The worst part is that this book was written in the late 90s, during one of the greatest economic times in America. I find it heartbreaking to imagine how people survive on minimum wage today, in 2012. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jessie P | 2/8/2014

    " Fairly interesting and insightful, but no major revelations. I did work as a hostess and retail associate - never for a living, but I worked with others who did. Wondering if a more recent, similar work would provide a better perspective, as this book is now about 12 years old and the climate may have changed a little. "

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