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12 February 2007

The non-fiction non-challenge (for me)

As I commented on Emily's blog the other day, I'm committed to not committing to any litblog challenges right now, mainly because, while I'm always eager to join, I rarely follow through. My reading goals for 3, 4, 5 months out aren't that defined and I like to keep it that way (apparently, even when I say that I will follow a plan).

But, when I read Emily's post about the Non-fiction five challenge last week, I was tempted. I've been reading mostly non-fiction lately. This would be an issue goal to accomplish (5 books in 5 months). I resisted the temptation -- so far, in a way.

Emily listed her selection of 5 books. Included in the list was Barbara Ehrenreich's book, Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. This book is a follow up, of sorts, to Ehrenreich's book Nickled and Dimed, in which she wrote about the plight of minimum wage workers (if you haven't read this book, read it now). In Bait and Switch, she writes about unemployed and underemployed professional workers squeezed by corporate downsizing.

I bought this book (now in soft cover) when it was first published, around the time that I was laid-off. It was a situation where I knew for weeks that my job would end, with parting gifts available if I stayed until "the end", but no guarantee of when that end would be. No severance pay if I left before the undefined time, a shoddily written contract (I'm not a lawyer, but even I recognized that it was contradictory, contained blanks, shouldn't have been signed) that may not have been enforceable, but I live in a 'right to work' state where the rights of employers almost always win out over the rights of the employee.

But I never read Ehrenreich's book. Unlike most people in similar situations, I was extremely lucky and landed in a new job within a few weeks, only to have that job end in a few months when a major cancelled contract left my employer with no funds to pay his staff. Two more long-term contract jobs and two years later, I'm finally in a permanent job. But I still haven't read Ehrenreich's book.

Now is the time. Emily and I have agreed to post on this book on April 4th. If you're interested in reading this book, join us in posting about it on that date. No further commitment needed.

Since publishing Bait and Switch, Ehrenreich has helped to form an organization for middle-class professionals, United Professionals. Ehrenreich also has a couple of blogs, Barbara's Blog, and Barbara's Guest Commentators. Always interesting reading. I'm also looking forward to her latest book, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy, scheduled to be published in July, 2007.

BTW: For info on the official "Non-Fiction Five" challenge, go to Joy's site, Thoughts of Joy, for details. Emily found this challenge at Heather/Orange Blossom Goddess' blog, The Library Ladder.

5 comments:

jenclair said...

A Surfeit of Challenges! I'm reading a lot more non-fiction this year and have finished 5 so far, but I'm resisting the challenges for the most part. Ehrenreich's books sound interesting, and I'm adding them to "the list." Thanks for the links.

danielle said...

I am going to try and stay away from challenges, too, as I never read all the books I set out to read. I do want to read more NF, but I will just watch from the sidelines and try and read along on my own. I am very interested in B. Ehrenreich, too. I'll watch for your posts.

Dorothy W. said...

I'll certainly look forward to your thoughts on the Ehrenreich book. I liked Nickel and Dimed quite a lot and the new one sounds very good.

(un)relaxeddad said...

Challenges are completely beyond me at the moment but I do happen to be reading the Ehrenreich book - very good so far (though with that slightly chiselled-out-of-marble feel that NYT type journalism has) to the prose and quirkier than I'd expected. Given that I work for a university careers service and deal with these big corporations daily in graduate recruitment terms, it's quite a tonic. I'll just have to try and remember April 4th!

Emily Barton said...

Can't wait to see what our impressions are come April 4.