Bismarck's online book discussion community

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

New Book Choice

I think it's time to start a new book. How many of you have read Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich? Once you've read the book start posting and commenting your reactions to the book.

In Nickel and Dimed the author, Ehrenreich, asks herself how anyone working full-time on minimum wage can possibly survive. She questions whether welfare reform has any merit. She decides that the only way to find out is to quit her job, pose as a "woefully inexperienced housemaker" returning to the job force and find out what kinds of jobs she can get. Throughout this experience Ehrenreich finds herself working as a waitress, hotel maid, cleaning woman, nursing home aide and a sales clerk at Walmart. Read this book and get a rare view of what life "on the bottom" is like from Ehrenreich's personal experience.

Questions to ponder as you read:

1. Have you ever been homeless, unemployed, without health insurance, or held down two jobs? What is the lowest-paying job you ever held and what kind of help -- if any -- did you need to improve your situation?

2. Ehrenreich found that she could not survive on $7.00 per hour -- not if she wanted to live indoors. Consider how her experiment would have played out in Bismarck: limiting yourself to $7.00 per hour earnings, create a hypothetical monthly budget for your part of the country.

3. Nickel and Dimed takes place in 1998-2000, a time of unprecedented prosperity in America. Do you think Ehrenreich's experience would be different in today's economy? How so?

Happy Reading! Please help make the book blog a success: Share your comments and ideas!

Author Book Blogs

Readers aren't the only ones with book blogs. Authors create their own book blogs, too.

What are the Blogs Saying About Me? by Pamela Paul. (New York Times Book Review, December 18, 2005)

"Almost every author I know with a new book does it - the embarrassing, nearly irresistible, ritualistic dip into Internet-assisted narcissism. I know I do. Prodded by a combination of curiosity and dread, I'll scour the Web not just to ascertain sales (impossible) or check out the press coverage, but to get a sense of what ordinary readers are saying about my book when they think I'm not listening."

For full text of this article click here.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Discussion Questions

If anyone has questions or comments they'd like to share with the group please feel free to post.

Here are a couple discussion questions for you to ponder. Share your thoughts by commenting on this post.

1. Amir and Hassan have a favorite story. Does the story have the same meaning for both men? Why does Hassan name his son after one of the characters in the story?

2. When Amir and Baba move to the States their relationship changes, and Amir begins to view his father as a more complex man. Discuss the changes in their relationship. Do you see the changes in Baba as tragic or positive?

3. America acts as a place for Amir to bury his memories and a place for Baba to mourn his. In America, there are "homes that made Baba's house in Wazir Akbar Khan look like a servant's hut." What is ironic about this statement? What is the function of irony in this novel?