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Tacoma Reads Together 2014
Nickel & Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America
by Barbara Ehrenreich

About the bookNickel & Dimed

A New York Times bestseller, Nickel and Dimed has become a classic of undercover reportage.

Millions of Americans work for poverty-level wages, and one day Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that any job equals a better life. But how can anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 to $7 an hour?

To find out, Ehrenreich moved from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, taking the cheapest lodgings available and accepting work as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and Wal-Mart salesperson. She soon discovered that even the "lowliest" occupations require exhausting mental and physical efforts. And one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-wage America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity - a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate strategies for survival. Instantly acclaimed for its insight, humor, and passion, this book is changing the way America perceives its working poor.

Barbara Ehrenreich's introduction to the 10th anniversary edition of Nickel & Dimed.

On Turning Poverty into an American Crime
I completed the manuscript for Nickel and Dimed in a time of seemingly boundless prosperity. Technology innovators and venture capitalists were acquiring sudden fortunes, buying up McMansions like the ones I had cleaned in Maine and much larger. Even secretaries in some hi-tech firms were striking it rich with their stock options. There was loose talk about a permanent conquest of the business cycle, and a sassy new spirit infecting American capitalism. In San Francisco, a billboard for an e-trading firm proclaimed, "Make love not war," and then -- down at the bottom -- "Screw it, just make money."

When Nickel and Dimed was published in May 2001, cracks were appearing in the dot-com bubble and the stock market had begun to falter, but the book still evidently came as a surprise, even a revelation, to many. Again and again, in that first year or two after publication, people came up to me and opened with the words, "I never thought..." or "I hadn't realized..."
Read more http://ehrenreich.blogs.com/barbaras_blog/

"What you don't necessarily realize when you start selling your time by the hour is that what you're really selling is your life."

About Tacoma Reads Together

In the aftermath of the tragic event of September 11, 2001, Tacoma educator Patrick Erwin sought a way to bring the Tacoma community together to talk about the issues which appeared to keep the community apart. Remembering What if all Seattle read the same book?, a project begun by Seattle's Nancy Pearl, Erwin met with Mayor Mike Crowley and others to suggest that perhaps Tacomans should be encouraged to come together to read, reflect upon, and then respond to the ideas and issues raised by one good book - one book which the entire community would be encouraged to read and discuss. In short order, Tacoma Reads Together was born.

This citywide community initiative, now in its 11th year, chose Harper Lee's classic To Kill A Mockingbird for its first book. In the following years, the community was encouraged to read and discuss Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Julia Alvarez's How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus and Arthur Miller's powerful play, The Crucible.

Each book is selected by the Mayor for the opportunities it presents to the Tacoma community to discuss critical community issues. These issues included racism and discrimination, the balance between the needs of the individual versus the rights of the State, immigration and cultural assimilation, and the ever-increasing role of science in our lives. The book selection (and the variety of programs that are scheduled for the first three months of each year) offers city residents an opportunity to come together with their friends and neighbors and talk. And listen. To learn. And to grow.

“Something is wrong, very wrong, when a single person in good health, a person who in addition possesses a working car, can barely support herself by the sweat of her brow. You don’t need a degree in economics to see that wages are too low and rents too high.”

Tacoma Reads Together selections

2013   Wonder by R. J. Palacio
2012   Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella
2011   The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba
2010   The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
2009   Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
by Barbara Kingsolver
2008 - The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
2007 - The Pact
by Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins and Rameck Hunt
2006 - The Crucible, a play by
Arthur Miller
2005 - Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
2004 - How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents by Julia Alvarez
2003 - Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury
2002 - To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Last Updated 24.09.2014
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