Book Review | Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Wired September 2017
Wired September 2017

In September of last year, I read Jessica Bruder’s article in Wired magazine about retired people living out of the RVs and working for Amazon fulfillment centers, MEET THE CAMPERFORCE, AMAZON’S NOMADIC RETIREE ARMY. It was a very well written article that greatly intrigued me. Later I found out that Bruder was going to be writing a book about the same subject, furthering the article into something substantial. Nomadland is the result of that work. Nomadland is Bruder’s third book and she has written for many magazines.


The book follows a few of these work campers as the work for Amazon and the park system. The pay is low, most time just above minimum wage, but it is usually just enough to get by with.

many of these wandering souls were trying to escape an economic paradox: the collision of rising rents and flat wages

Plus the RV driving retirees take care of each other, helping out where everything they can. Installing solar panels, sharing a meal, or patching up each other’s RV’s when there is damage. Even though they are retired they still work and they work hard. When working for Amazon they walk up to 15 miles a day putting Amazon products on shelves for other work campers to pick up and package for customers.

Amazon Tour
Amazon Tour by Flickr User: Maryland GovPics

Life is not a vacation for these senior citizens. Things are tough for those that lost their retirement savings when the market went bust or had to pay for huge medical bills when an unexpected illness struck. The single largest expense we all have is rent or a mortgage. If you can cut this expense by living in an RV or van or car, then the money you make goes a lot farther. Working for minimum wage really is a minimum then. Things are not good but they are doable…just.

Camper by Flickr User: Shutter Theory

This book was an insightful look at how those who get paid minimum wage make things work. Some of them live in RVs or cars because they had to decide if they wanted to eat or if they wanted to have four walls around them. Shelter had to take on another form for them. It works for them but there is definitely a stigma attached to living in your car. You are “house” less if no homeless. Without a real address, there are some real hassles to getting things done. Like having a drivers license even. Bruder did a wonderful job making her article for Wired grow into a very good read! I rate this book 4 stars.

Book Review | Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom

Walden on Wheels
Walden on Wheels

Joe Russo of We’re The Russo’s recommended Walden on Wheels as a good place to start when researching van life.  If you are not watching their youtube videos you should start.  Kait and Joe are very entertaining and full of useful information for anyone interested in van life.

In Walden on Wheels, the author Ken Ilgunas takes us along on his adventure to reduce is college debt.  Like many of us, myself included, Ken, followed the societal norms of going to college after high school, simply because that is what was expected of him and what he was taught he should do.

After college, he has a large amount of debt he needs to pay off and fast.  But with a degree in literature, he has trouble finding good paying jobs.  The readers will follow him on various adventures to Alaska among others in order to find work where there is also free room and board offered.  This is great because all of the money he is making goes straight to paying off his debt.

Once the debt is paid off, when you think the book is about to end, Ken actually continues his adventure by going back to school.  What?!  What about the debt he will incur, wasn’t that the whole thing about the book?

Ken has a plan.  He is going to live in a van while going to school and eat hardly anything while working in all of his spare time.  For me, this is where the real adventure started.  This book is a really fun ride and helps you appreciate just how much that we have that we don’t really need.  What is life about, possessions or experiences?

This is the first book I have read in 2018.  Well, finished in 2018, I started it on December 29th.  The best part of this book, besides the content, of course, is that the book is free for Amazon Prime users and is also part of Kindle Unlimited if you have that.

More on the RV Obsession


A strange thing happened yesterday when I was updating my book list using Goodreads.  All the books I had read since February were not listed.  I was missing a bunch.  Among them some of the key reasons I may be obsessed with RVing right now…Travels with Charley.  We listened to this on a recent trip up the coast.  For those of you not familiar it’s a non-fiction work where Steinbeck travels across the US in a ….wait for it….RV!  He called his RV Rocinante after the horse in Don Quixote.

Rocinante Inside
Rocinante Inside

We also visited his museum in Salinas.  On that trip, we also stopped at an Autocamp, where you can stay in an airstream overnight.  That was a blast, but I didn’t care for the shower.


So again, more reviews yet to come, but I thought I would mention this little thing in a follow-up post.  Happy Thanksgiving all!

Catching Up

Library of Souls
Library of Souls

I’ve fallen very far behind on my posting to this blog.  I added six books to my reading list just now, which covers the last 5 months.  They are:

Many of the books listed above I read because I was at least slightly interested and I was participating in the adult summer reading program at my local library.  The last book on this list is the exception.  I read that just because I loved the first two books.  It took me a while to get to this last book because there are so many other books I also want to read.  I’m happy to have finally read it and I will update you all with a review soon I hope.

Now that it is Thanksgiving break I finally have some time to sit down and do some work in my office that’s not related to my day job.  I got some other things done as well.  I scan all the girl’s artwork that they give me.  I know we can’t keep it all, but I can scan it and store it on the Network Attached Storage (NAS) device we have.  I also have all our movies and tv shows stored on it.  I scan everything in using my trusty Canon scanner.  Thankfully, they keep their driver page updated, even for those of us that adopted macOS High Sierra early.

I’ve also been watching some more TV recently as well.  I started by diving into Star Trek DS9.  It is the only series that I haven’t watched all the way through.  I’m making my way through that on Netflix.  In addition, I’ve also gotten addicted to Stranger Things.  I’m early in the second season so no spoilers, please.  When I’m not watching those I’ve been making time to learn about class b RVs on youtube and got addicted to the We Are The Russos.

I’m not a camper, so I have not idea why I’m so into the idea of these RV things.  No idea where it all came from, but I’ve always been into the tiny homes stuff.  I think it is amazing the way that people find a way to make it with so little.  I have so much and the idea of paring down has always appealed to me.  When I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I really did get rid of a lot, but it really wasn’t enough.  We have a two-thousand square foot home and it is full!

Speaking of youtube. I think it would be a good idea to try that here.  I’m not one to sit down and record a video, but I think it would help drive traffic to the site and I know lots of times I want to watch a video of something instead of reading a bunch of text.  Sounds strange on a book blog site, doesn’t it?  I think some more about that one.  Lots of things to consider.

Lots of other things are also going on.  Work has gotten a lot busier and I started taking my weight loss a lot more seriously.  I watched Vegucated on Netflix and a few other vegetarian and vegan documentaries as well as Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2.  All these films together pushed me over the edge to go vegan.  I’m what you would call a lazy vegan.  I find my self-making exceptions to the dairy rule.  For example, I can not give up pizza so my give and take on that is ordering only vegetarian pizza.  It’s not vegan, but at least it is vegetarian.  I haven’t had meat in about four months.

I have been also going to the gym on average 5-6 days a week.  Pretty much every day.  I got a new Apple Watch and I’ve been trying to close all the rings every day.  Most days I make it and with giving up meat, it has been pretty easy to lose a lot of weight.  I’m down about 18 pounds from September.  I use my Aria, a Fitbit scale, to track my weight every day.  They have the 2nd version of it available now.  I was thinking of getting it because mine doesn’t always sync right.  I’ve had problems with it since the beginning.

I think that is pretty good for now.  Hopefully, more coming very soon.