Here are some discussion questions pulled from the reader's guide at the back of the book, along with one or two of my own. Pick a couple questions you relate to and post your comments. Feel free to add your own questions or respond to previous comments.
* Have you ever held down two jobs to make ends meet? What is the lowest paying job you ever held, and what kind of help -- if any -- did you need to improve your situation?
* Have your perceptions of poverty and prosperity been changed by reading this book? How about your treatment of low-wage workers, such as waiters, maids and salespeople?
* Housing costs pose the greatest obstacle for low-wage workers, especially in places like the Bay Area. How have you dealt with the high cost of housing? Do you believe there are realistic solutions to the lack of affordable housing?
* Ehrenreich is white and middle class. She thinks her experience would have been different if she'd been a woman of color or a single parent. Do you? In what way?
* The workers in Nickel and Dimed receive almost no benefits. Is this fair? Do you think an increase in wages (say, to a so-called "living wage") would help make up for the lack of benefits...or is this a completely different problem?
* Nickel and Dimed takes place in 1998-2000, a time when the economy was booming. Do you think Ehrenreich's experience would be different in today's economy? How so?
* After reading Nickel and Dimed, do you think that the lower-income people who were recently evacuated from News Orleans and other damaged coastal cities in the wake of Hurricane Katrina will be able to afford to return?
If you'd like more information on Nickel and Dimed...or if you'd like you'd like to hear Barbara Ehrenreich talk about the book or read what others have said about it...or if you'd just like the "Cliff Notes" version of the book, here are some links to check out:
* The Nickel and Dimed web site, maintained by the Institute for Policy Studies, has links to a number of articles, interviews and resources related to the book
* Barbara Ehrenreich interview on Weekend Edition (NPR) interview, May 19, 2001 -- audio file