Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

Jessica Bruder, a journalist, wrote Nomadland, a book about the (almost) hidden army of people who have decided for one reason or another to abandon permanent homes in favor of a life on the road. They don’t have real estate, they have “wheel estate.” they are not homeless, they are “houseless.” Many of them made this choice to follow a dream that doesn’t entail a house, maintenance, insurance, rent, and all the rest. I know a few of those people. Others made the choice because staying in a house or apartment did not add up. The type of arithmetic when you take your income and subtract food, medicine, insurance, other bills, and you don’t have enough for rent. They did it out of necessity. They are being squeezed out by the high cost of housing.

Where do they live? Many live in RV’s, new and old, travel trailers, truck campers. Some even live in their cars. Where do they park their vehicles? In RV parks, and on BLM and Forest Service land in the west. Walmart parking lots are popular, in commercial areas where their rigs blend in, public parks. Anywhere they are allowed to, and a few places where they are not. There are apps that guide them to free camping spots.

What do they do for money? Some live off their savings or in whatever jobs they can find. Thousands work for Amazon during the peak pre-Christmas season at their gigantic fulfillment centers. Amazon has a name for them, they are the Camperforce. Amazon loves them because of their work ethic and willingness to work for not very much money. Others work seasonally as camp hosts for National and State forests. They work the sugar beet harvest. All sorts of things.

Where do they go when they are not working. Thousands head to Quartzsite in southern Arizona where they boondock in the public lands surrounding town. The meet up in groups, learn the tricks and rules of the road from each other and enjoy the warm winters.

The author Jessica Bruder spent three years and researching this lifestyle. She even got her own van in order to embed even closer with them. You can tell she kind of fell in love with the lifestyle and the people. She tells the story with great empathy and insight.

I loved this book. And hey a movie is coming out starring Frances McDormand.

4 thoughts on “Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

  1. Vicki

    I loved this book! Since I was a young adult I’ve wanted to travel the U.S. pulling a travel trailer and stopping wherever I felt like for how ever long I felt like.

  2. Ellen

    I just saw a trailer for the movie that is “coming soon”. I can’t wait to read the book and see the movie. I have friends who work for the camper force. Amazon pays for their campsites and gives them choices on campgrounds they can stay it. They work long hours, but generally seem to like it. There usually released from duty a few days before Christmas. I’d like to give it a try.

  3. Sallie

    Wow! I am so glad I took time to catch up here. Did not know even this was a book but have been seriously considering adding Hulu to our monthly expenses just because the publicity for this movie interests me so much. Off right now to buy the book. (I wonder if Our blog friend Gaelyn knows about it.)

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