Listen to this audiobook excerpt and hear the introduction from Barbara Ehrenreich's Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America, a sharp-witted knockdown of America's love affair with positive thinking and an urgent call for a new commitment to realism.
Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Barbara Ehrenreich's book Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. The bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed goes back undercover to do for America's ailing middle class what she did for the working poor, and enters the world of the white-collar unemployed.
Where are you from?
Who are your favorite periodicals?
I read the New York Times and the Washington Post every day, and subscribe to Harper's, the New Yorker, The Nation, The Progressive, Scientific American and Discover. The last two are the ones I usually read first.
Which book/books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
Ah, so many of them! As a child, I read all the classics - Sir Walter Scott, Poe, Bullfinchvëcompulsively, then in my teens moved on to Dostoyevsky, Conrad, Kafka, as well as tons of sci fi. All these gave me an ear for the language and a sense of all the doors that can be opened with it.
Which teacher had the biggest impact on your life?
Maybe Mr. Conway in 10th grade Chemistry (Lowell High School, Massachusetts), for insisting that if we live in this world, we should know it works. Or maybe Mr. Trett in high school English (University High School, Los Angeles), for teaching me how to write an essay.
What are your hobbies and outside interests?
I love kayaking when I can get down to the Florida Keys. I know where to find sharks and I just sit there perfectly still till I see that dorsal fin cutting through the water, then I pursue it. Best of all is coming across a dolphin or pod of them. They toy with you - jumping up on one side of the kayak, then popping under you to come up on the other side.
What is the single best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
My dad said, "Always ask why."
What is something most people don't know about you?
I'm very strong, especially quads, calves, lats and triceps.
What are your secret indulgences?
Dogfish Head 90-minute infused India Pale Ale and historical series on TV - especially "Rome."
Where do you write?
At home, where I can wear sweatpants all day and take housecleaning breaks.