Book Review: Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder


I don’t know where to begin. I borrowed this book from the library with ok’ish expectations. How sucky could this book be if it got made into a movie? I thought to myself.

I finished this book in a matter of days. It sucked me into its world faster than an Instagram meme scroll. You know how quickly that happens.

My fear with this review is that I won’t do this book justice. On Instagram, tiny home living looks amazing without any of the stresses of money, food, and a safe place to live. Nomadland taught me about the realities that happen in tiny home living. It showed me that tiny home living isn’t just for young twenty-somethings.

Nomadland spoke about the horrors of working for Amazon. The dark side of working for this mega-corporation that seems to be taking over this world. The physical and emotional pains of working 12 hour days filling bins and picking orders basically full of junk that will be tossed in the garbage within a month or so.

The author, Jessica Bruder, followed boomers over a couple of years to see how the “American Dream” had panned out for these hard-working people. It made me think. If the American Dream crapped out on these boomers, what’s the world going to look like for us millennials who are being told that we will never achieve boomer success.

“On her blog, The Complete Flake, she described it as a transformative experience: I found my people: a ragtag bunch of misfits who surrounded me with love and acceptance. By misfits I don’t mean losers and dropouts. These were smart, compassionate, hardworking Americans whose scales had been lifted from their eyes. After a lifetime of chasing the American Dream, they had come to the conclusion that it was all nothing but a big con.

What’s really the American Dream? Is it who collects the most crap wins? Is it who dies with the most amount of debt wins? Or is all about the person the lived the most? I think the American Dream is all about living. Because Jen in Nomadland has is right. I have a master’s and make the same as people without degrees. Maybe Jen was right all along.

“Jen had grown up watching her parents work at King Soopers—a Kroger-owned grocery store—a job her father hated. “We want better for you kids,” they always said, urging her toward college. Independence was important to Jen. In high school she started working as a bagger and courtesy clerk at the grocery store for around $6 an hour. Later she earned an associate’s degree on scholarship. But she couldn’t see the point of going further. “It’s the same story everywhere,” she said. “You see all your friends who get their bachelor’s degree and higher and they can’t get a job. So I just don’t see a reason to go back even though I love learning. Just the money part of it, going into debt . . . the idea of it just scares me so bad, I don’t want to.”

Maybe this is why I have no regrets in doing my own KonMari tidying event in 2018, working through my third no-spend year, and living a more intentional minimalist life. Maybe Nomadland just reassured me that there are many people out there living a different version of the American Dream by focusing on experiences rather than stuff. I don’t know many people in real life that live my version of the American Dream. Reading Nomadland made me feel just a little less weird.

“In the widening gap between credits and debits hangs a question: What parts of this life are you willing to give up, so you can keep on living?”

brown van under the tree during sunset

3 Books Worth Rereading

Ever read a book or a series of books that you actually implement a suggestion and stick with it for years? There are lots of great books out there. I have read many of them. Often times a book may spark a new habit or create change that just simply fizzles out. Rachel Hollis, Gabbie … Continue reading 3 Books Worth Rereading


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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

  1. go to collage. get a degree! i belong to the age of “you have to go to college to get a job” but there are many more jobs that do not require a degree and some which require a degree but the job has nothing to do or needs a degree to preform the job. the fallacy is a degree equals a career and not “just a job” americans want the “cool” job. not every one can be a doctor or lawyer but those are the “cool jobs” americans are so money driven that if they are not making the “big bucks” they have not succeeded. many employers force people to get unneeded degrees and thus spend money for those degrees to maintain their jobs which can be done without a degree. this places many at risk for financial problems which they may not recover from. as an RN, i entered with an AS degree. i did the same job as those with a BS. in fact, my training had more hours of clinical time than those who went to a school to get their BS. the pay difference? since most hospitals used a clinical ladder or were/are union run. i started out 50 cents less per hour than a RN with a BS. by the end of a couple of years, we were paid the same because of the clinical ladder. the only difference was the BS nurse reached the top of the pay ladder a little faster because they started out at the higher pay. though i have a MS in Nursing (only because an employer required it but the job functions did not). there are many needed jobs which do not need a degree but the training is only offered at community colleges, one ends up with a degree. spending more time and money than is necessary for the job. also many people get degrees in subjects that have no job to use the degree.

    as for the book report in this post, you have me sold on reading the book. i cant get on amazon fast enough to order a copy. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you on college/education 100%! Some jobs do require college like a doctor. Most jobs require the willingness to learn, try new things, and change and challenge yourself. The whole this order that degree is required it’s complete BS.

      I can’t wait to hear what you thought about this book!

      Liked by 1 person

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