Listen to the folks talking about not being tied down and mortgage free on the proliferating tiny house shows, and you’ll figure out that with their aspirational RVs, they are talking to the folks that populate Nomadland. Journalist Jessica Bruder gets know the folks who live out of their trailers and campers (and sometimes cars), centering the story on Linda May, a grandmother who’d rather be on the road than a burden to her financially struggling kids. These folks work at Amazon fulfillment centers, take seasonal work, both good (campground monitor) and bad (sugar beet picker), and learn how to stretch their social security dollars razor thin. Like all interesting subcultures, they connect both online and in gatherings. Most notably, they define themselves by who they are not, making it clear they are houseless but not homeless. Nomadland is a fascinating sociological look at a burgeoning subculture, and captures an economic crisis in the making, the hollowing out of the middle class.— Daniel Goldin
From North Dakota beet fields to California campgrounds to Amazon's Texas CamperForce program, employers have found a new cheap labor pool: transient older Americans. Casualties of the Great Recession, they've taken to the road by the tens of thousands in a growing migrant labor community of "workampers." Jessica Bruder hit the road to tell their eye-opening tale.