Nickels, Dimes, Humans and French Leaves

Quick Thoughts…

Nickel and Dimed  by Barbara Eirenreich, A METROPOLITAN / OWL BOOK Henry Holt Company 2001, 221 pages (Sent to me from the wonderful @TriniCapini)

I’ve been wanting to read this for years and my announcement (on Twitter?) that the High School had selected it for Summer Reading must have been why Trish sent me her copy. Thank you, Trish! I love these kinds of nonfiction memoirs – the kind where the author is an integral part of the experience. Some might call this genre “stunt nonfiction”. I enjoyed her story of moving to three different towns (Key West FL, Portland ME, Minneapolis MN – all places I have visited and enjoyed) to see if she could find a place to live and a job, the kind requiring little to no qualifications: using ‘mother returning to workforce/no experience’ as her background rather than announce her PhD in Biology. Set in the year 2000, it does take some mental time travel to remember even in just 10 years the economic difference between now and then; it still is an eye opener how difficult to start from nothing and ‘make it’ – to earn enough money to secure a safe place to live and actually enjoy some time off. It is hard work. A liberal slant is evident and I don’t claim to understand how exactly either of the main government parties truly hope to address and fix/help with this stuff but I found myself quite moved as well as fearful for the people who are trying not only to stay afloat but gain. And not just gain, but to afford healthcare, eat an adequate diet, and put away for emergencies and the future. Is there the book where a journalist moves to a new city and rather than look for a job and suitable housing, stands in line at the welfare office to see what can be gotten?  I don’t know. I can’t help but wonder why this book was advised for our high schoolers?  To encourage them to seek financial security by studying for well-paying careers or will it only succeed in them pulling their sweatshirt hoods up and hiding in their parents’ basement?


The Human Bobby  by Gabe Rotter, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks 2010, 289 pages (gift from the amazing Jenners who reviews it -> here <–)

Right off the bat, I must direct you to Jenner’s link above or to BermudaOnion-Kathy’s review because these two enthusiastic reactions to The Human Bobby had me chomping at the bit to read it, too! But I wasn’t as impressed. Could it have been me? my mood? I don’t know, but I really REALLY struggled through this, twice almost abandoned and was urged to continue. I didn’t exactly guess the outcome but I wasn’t moved or surprised or swept away in the least. I couldn’t help thinking it just not nearly as much fun and wild as Gone Girl – perhaps that is unfair comparison, but Gone Girl would win. BUT, don’t you agree, when people disagree on a book, you actually want to read it and see for yourself?

BEST QUOTE:  C’mon, I’ll give you some pie. Pie always helps.


French Leave by Anna Gavalda, Europa editions 2009, 108 pages • Translated from the French by Alison Anderson • (A gift from the creative and generous @JilleeBeene)

Softdrink sent me this and I didn’t even know I wanted to read it. A slim story about sibling relationships and familial love, growing up, avoiding and accepting responsibility. Almost snarky, somewhat sly, definitely out of my culture (country, age of protagonist), but sweet, too. And it’s a EUROPA!  Love the feel of these books almost as much as I love the kinds of books they publish.


And FINALLY, the thought I am most impressed with after writing all this is how GENEROUS my wonderful book blogger friends are!  ALL of these books were gifts. SO, in that spirit, I return the favor. Comment here if you want one of these books and I will draw a random winner, contact you if I don’t already have your snailmail addy and then send it off. Deadline this weekend sometime.


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20 thoughts on “Nickels, Dimes, Humans and French Leaves

  1. French Leave looks intriguing! Have already read Nickel and Dimed, and I wonder too why it’s on school reading lists, except to encourage students to go to college or get other credentials for employment and to show why employers don’t like employees to get unionized!

  2. I love stunt memoirs too and have had Nickeled and Dimed for quite a while. It sounds like a book I’d enjoy.

    Sorry you didn’t love The Human Bobby – I was flipping those pages as fast as I could. Carl liked it until the end – he felt he’d been manipulated when he got to the end. It sounds like I’ll love Gone Girl!

  3. I have to agree that Nickel and Dimed is an odd choice for High School reading. I read it a couple of months ago and did truly, if a little depressively enjoy it.

    I actually get to go hear a lecture by her on the 24th of this month and I’m really looking forward to that. I’ll post about it 🙂

  4. I like your “mini” reviews. 🙂 All three books sound interesting. No need to enter me to win, though. I’m already struggling with space for books, and I still need to tackle 1Q84 that you so kindly passed on to me.

  5. Did The Human Bobby get two slices instead of one because of that quote? Come on, that quote had to have counted for something, right?

    I’ve had Nickel and Dimed for years, but still haven’t read it. Really want to though. (I’d really better live to be 635 if I want to get all the books read that I want to read. Well, that, and quit reading book blogs so my TBR list quits growing exponentially.)

    Hope you’re having a happy day!!!

  6. I so wish you had liked The Human Bobby more, but what can you do? Not every book is going to appeal. I see your point about Gone Girl though — it didn’t quite hold a candle to that book. And I read Nickled and Dimed ages ago. I would love her to do this again and see how things have changed … and stayed the same.

  7. Elisabeth

    Nickel and Dimed is on our high school reading list as well, felt as you did about it, surely there are better choices. Thanks for the giveaway, either is fine just not Nickel and Dimed.

  8. litandlife

    I’ve been wanting to read Nicked & Dimed for a while, especially since it’s on the Gilmore Girls list. Now I have to read it so I can defend myself in Twitter discussions!

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