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Traveling Light: On the Road with America's Poor

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How far can you get on two tacos, one Dr. Pepper, and a little bit of conversation? What happens when you're broke and you need to get to a new job, an ailing parent, a powwow, college, or a funeral on the other side of the country? And after decades of globalization, what kind of America will you glimpse through the window on your way? For five years, Kath Weston rode the How far can you get on two tacos, one Dr. Pepper, and a little bit of conversation? What happens when you're broke and you need to get to a new job, an ailing parent, a powwow, college, or a funeral on the other side of the country? And after decades of globalization, what kind of America will you glimpse through the window on your way? For five years, Kath Weston rode the bus to find out. Weston's route takes her through northeastern cities buried under layoffs, an immigration raid in the Southwest, an antiwar rally in the capitol, and the path traced by Hurricane Katrina. Like any road story, this one has characters that linger in the imagination: the trucker who has to give up his rig to have an operation; the teenager who can turn any Hollywood movie into a rap song; the homeless veteran who dreams of running his own shrimp boat; the sketch artist who breathes life into African American history; the single mother scrambling for loose change. But Traveling Light is not just another book about people stuck in poverty. Rather, it's a book about how people move through poverty and their insights into the sweeping economic changes that affect us all. The bus is a place where unexpected generosity coexists with pickup lines and scams, where civic debates thrive and injustice finds some of its most acute analysts. Hard-working people rub shoulders with others who rap, sketch, and story new worlds into being. Folded into these poignant narratives are headlines, studies, and statistics that track the intensification of poverty and inequality as the United States enters the twenty-first-century. If sharp-eyed observations and down-to-earth critique-of the health care system, imperialism, the state of the environment, or corporate downsizing-are what you're looking for, Weston suggests the bus is the place to find it. The result is a moving meditation on living poor in the world's wealthiest nation.


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How far can you get on two tacos, one Dr. Pepper, and a little bit of conversation? What happens when you're broke and you need to get to a new job, an ailing parent, a powwow, college, or a funeral on the other side of the country? And after decades of globalization, what kind of America will you glimpse through the window on your way? For five years, Kath Weston rode the How far can you get on two tacos, one Dr. Pepper, and a little bit of conversation? What happens when you're broke and you need to get to a new job, an ailing parent, a powwow, college, or a funeral on the other side of the country? And after decades of globalization, what kind of America will you glimpse through the window on your way? For five years, Kath Weston rode the bus to find out. Weston's route takes her through northeastern cities buried under layoffs, an immigration raid in the Southwest, an antiwar rally in the capitol, and the path traced by Hurricane Katrina. Like any road story, this one has characters that linger in the imagination: the trucker who has to give up his rig to have an operation; the teenager who can turn any Hollywood movie into a rap song; the homeless veteran who dreams of running his own shrimp boat; the sketch artist who breathes life into African American history; the single mother scrambling for loose change. But Traveling Light is not just another book about people stuck in poverty. Rather, it's a book about how people move through poverty and their insights into the sweeping economic changes that affect us all. The bus is a place where unexpected generosity coexists with pickup lines and scams, where civic debates thrive and injustice finds some of its most acute analysts. Hard-working people rub shoulders with others who rap, sketch, and story new worlds into being. Folded into these poignant narratives are headlines, studies, and statistics that track the intensification of poverty and inequality as the United States enters the twenty-first-century. If sharp-eyed observations and down-to-earth critique-of the health care system, imperialism, the state of the environment, or corporate downsizing-are what you're looking for, Weston suggests the bus is the place to find it. The result is a moving meditation on living poor in the world's wealthiest nation.

30 review for Traveling Light: On the Road with America's Poor

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ocean

    why isn't this book more popular? kath weston writes beautiful, poetic sentences about riding the greyhound--not as a middle-class anthropologist intent on delivering stories of how "the other half lives" to folks shivering in their expensive armchairs, but rather as someone who's been there, who rides the bus out of necessity. everything is layered with history, humor, pathos, class rage. a fucking gem. i would have DIED for this book when i was an 18-year-old queer greyhound nomad. i can't wai why isn't this book more popular? kath weston writes beautiful, poetic sentences about riding the greyhound--not as a middle-class anthropologist intent on delivering stories of how "the other half lives" to folks shivering in their expensive armchairs, but rather as someone who's been there, who rides the bus out of necessity. everything is layered with history, humor, pathos, class rage. a fucking gem. i would have DIED for this book when i was an 18-year-old queer greyhound nomad. i can't wait to read everything else this person has ever written!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rachel B

    3.5 stars The author spent time riding long-distance buses and getting to know the other passengers, most of whom rode the bus because they couldn't afford to travel any other way. I really enjoyed this look at poverty from a focused perspective, up close, instead of the typical read on poverty, which is mostly numbers with a few anecdotes thrown in. I appreciated that people were described realistically and weren't romanticized. Some profanity and a few sexual references were included in dialogue. 3.5 stars The author spent time riding long-distance buses and getting to know the other passengers, most of whom rode the bus because they couldn't afford to travel any other way. I really enjoyed this look at poverty from a focused perspective, up close, instead of the typical read on poverty, which is mostly numbers with a few anecdotes thrown in. I appreciated that people were described realistically and weren't romanticized. Some profanity and a few sexual references were included in dialogue.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chade66

    As someone who has traveled on buses, I found this to be an interesting read. Along the way, you learning interesting tidbits about the author and the myriad of characters she mets in her travels by bus. My favorite part is when she talks about going through Flagstaff, since I have traveled to and from that particular station on many occasions. The author does a skillful job of mixing narratives that hold your interest with political realities which could have fallen into dry academic speak, but As someone who has traveled on buses, I found this to be an interesting read. Along the way, you learning interesting tidbits about the author and the myriad of characters she mets in her travels by bus. My favorite part is when she talks about going through Flagstaff, since I have traveled to and from that particular station on many occasions. The author does a skillful job of mixing narratives that hold your interest with political realities which could have fallen into dry academic speak, but manage not to. Some compare this to Nickeled and Dimed, though I think there is an important difference. The author of this book speaks from this socio-economic level because she has been there, not because she put her life on a self-imposed financial diet to "see how the other half lives". While Nickeled and Dimed is a fine book and one of my favorites, this book sings a different song (while on a bus).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I personally did not enjoy this book. I felt it lacked any hook or singular narrative that I think strong nonfiction needs. This seemed like a serious of short essays milled together into one long book; I tried to give it a shot, but after 50 pages there wasn't anything that had grabbed my attention enough to warrant continuing it. I personally greatly enjoy nonfiction books; but felt like this was poor story telling. Every sentence had to stress how poor everyone in the book was, there was no r I personally did not enjoy this book. I felt it lacked any hook or singular narrative that I think strong nonfiction needs. This seemed like a serious of short essays milled together into one long book; I tried to give it a shot, but after 50 pages there wasn't anything that had grabbed my attention enough to warrant continuing it. I personally greatly enjoy nonfiction books; but felt like this was poor story telling. Every sentence had to stress how poor everyone in the book was, there was no room for reader to learn anything or come to their own conclusions. All in all, I did not enjoy this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    This book was assigned to me by my cultural anthropology professor. Though I do agree with previous reviews that the book lacks a hook, and tends to sound repetitive/like the same story told with slight renditions, Weston's diction is what really made this book for me. For assigned reading, I flew through this book. It's not your typical nonfiction -- though dry at times, it's a travelogue, not a textbook; she tells the story from her seat on the Greyhound. This book was assigned to me by my cultural anthropology professor. Though I do agree with previous reviews that the book lacks a hook, and tends to sound repetitive/like the same story told with slight renditions, Weston's diction is what really made this book for me. For assigned reading, I flew through this book. It's not your typical nonfiction -- though dry at times, it's a travelogue, not a textbook; she tells the story from her seat on the Greyhound.

  6. 4 out of 5

    hoopiefoot

    This book is similar to Nickel and Dimed, but I found the subject matter and presentation a little more interesting. Weston ties anecdotes and stories she hears from fellow riders on Greyhound buses with what could be dry academic material about poverty in America. However, the way intertwines the narrative and the background information is compelling. She paints a heart-wrenching story that reminds me just how close so many people (myself included) are to poverty in the country.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    A twist on the books about living in poverty in America. The author spends several years riding around the country on Greyhound. She intertwines stories about her travels and the people she meets on the bus with commentary about the state of the poor in America. Most of the information about America's poor was not new to me, but the stories about her experiences on Greyhound were interesting. A twist on the books about living in poverty in America. The author spends several years riding around the country on Greyhound. She intertwines stories about her travels and the people she meets on the bus with commentary about the state of the poor in America. Most of the information about America's poor was not new to me, but the stories about her experiences on Greyhound were interesting.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    Interesting read. The author travels by bus for economic reasons and describes her interactions with other bus travelers. As someone who usually travels by personal car and occasionally by air (although I made a few bus trips during college), it was an interesting glimpse into other people's lives. Interesting read. The author travels by bus for economic reasons and describes her interactions with other bus travelers. As someone who usually travels by personal car and occasionally by air (although I made a few bus trips during college), it was an interesting glimpse into other people's lives.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wordwizard

    Interesting. Kind of like Barbara Erinreich in the blend of experience and bigger-picture statistics and analysis. Weston uses a lot of anecdotes, things she overheard on the buses. A very quick read, not dense at all.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Josh Dejonge

    My book was an alright book. Traveling light is about poverty in America, and how we need to see it and be more aware of it. I would suggest this to any one wanting to read up on the poor of America. After reading this i really did feel as if i was learning as I read it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chi Dubinski

    Riding the bus across America, and listening to the stories the passengers tell.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    If you liked "Nickeled and Dimed" you'll like this non-fiction tome of a professor(the author) who investigates the poor and working poor by traveling on Greyhound buses around the United States. If you liked "Nickeled and Dimed" you'll like this non-fiction tome of a professor(the author) who investigates the poor and working poor by traveling on Greyhound buses around the United States.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Krzysztof

    too boring, didn't read. too boring, didn't read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Weavre

    OST NEW NON-FIC 1ST FLOOR 305.5 WES

  15. 5 out of 5

    Aparna

  16. 4 out of 5

    Glen

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  18. 4 out of 5

    Samu

  19. 5 out of 5

    Diana

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cristy

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joslyn Santana

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicole McBride

  24. 5 out of 5

    Emmie

    Could have been a good book if someone else had written it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nadine

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marguerite Traynor

  29. 5 out of 5

    Donna Patterson

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mollie Feltman

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