Book Spotlights

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

By Jessica Bruder

Title: Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Who is Jessica Bruder: Jessica Bruder is a journalist who spent months living in a camper van, documenting itinerant Americans who gave up traditional housing and hit the road full-time. She teaches narrative storytelling at Columbia Journalism School and has contributed to The New York Times, New York Magazine, WIRED, Harper’s Magazine, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The International Herald Tribune, The New York Times Magazine and The Guardian.

Amava Take: It turns out that employers have figured out that itinerant adults who live in RVs and modified vans are a reliable, flexible labor pool. They work in North Dakota beet fields, campgrounds across the country and participate in Amazon’s CamperForce program. Tens of thousands communicate year-round via Facebook Group and Reddit. Many online conversations have led to real-world gatherings, known as GTGs (get-togethers), out West, and back East. An annual event, the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, takes place in Quartzite, Arizona, for two weeks in January, is known to many as “Burning Van.” As the irrepressible Linda May, who allowed the author to accompany her to these some of these job sites and events, said upon learning about her options from a well-known RV lifestyle blogger and YouTuber, life could be exciting and fulfilling and creative…If you have an RV, go on the internet and you get a job in six seconds.”

Memorable Line: “The last free place in America is a parking spot.”

What We’d Tell Our Friends: This book is remarkable and fascinating. Bruder highlights the difficult challenges that many Americans face when they live a life on the road, usually by necessity. Nonetheless, Bruder deftly manages an uplifting perspective borne of sincere admiration for the warm, resilient, resourceful and vividly described people she meets along the way.

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