Broke Diaries: The Completely True and Hilarious Misadventures of a Good Girl Gone Broke

Broke Diaries: The Completely True and Hilarious Misadventures of a Good Girl Gone Broke

4.6 46
by Angela Nissel

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“People always say I’m going to look back on these days and laugh — why put it off?”

When Angela Nissel found herself struggling financially while in college, instead of sulking, she decided to entertain herself by creating an online journal that chronicled her day-to-day trials and tribulations. Written with humor and intelligence, her…  See more details below


“People always say I’m going to look back on these days and laugh — why put it off?”

When Angela Nissel found herself struggling financially while in college, instead of sulking, she decided to entertain herself by creating an online journal that chronicled her day-to-day trials and tribulations. Written with humor and intelligence, her “Broke Diary” quickly found an audience as people wrote to Angela to empathize with, console, and laugh with her about her experiences and even share their own. The Broke Diaries is the first complete compilation of her experiences, written in a voice that is funny, unique, and dead-on.

On buying ramen noodles: I am sooooooo embarassed. I only have 33 cents. I (please don’t laugh) put the money on the counter and quickly attempt to dash out with my Chicken Flavored Salt Noodles. The guy calls me back! I look up instinctively, I should have run . . . Why didn’t I run???!! He tells me the noodles are 35 cents. I try to apologize sincerely. I thought the sign said 33 cents yesterday, so that’s all I brought with me. Could he wait while I ran home and get the 2 cents? I show him my student I.D. to let him know I am not a thief. He shakes his head and motions either for me to get the hell out of his store and never come back again or get the money as do come back. I don’t know. He said something like “Nyeh” and swiped his hand in my direction.
I can’t translate hand motions well.
The noodles: tasty!!!

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Editorial Reviews

USA Today
The Broke Diaries is the New Economy's version of Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell's 1933 book about the urban poor. What makes Nissel's book shine is her unsentimental prose and wicked sense of humor.
Miranda Purves
The deft way Nissel transforms the ordeals of poverty into funny, reassuring anecdotes makes it an almost enviable condition.
Mademoiselle Magazine
Jennifer Hunt
Her searing laugh-out-loud commentary makes this a must have-if you're broke yourself, get it from the library.
Honey Magazine
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Internet has been around long enough as a venue for works like the diary presented here, which debuted online, for such works to have lost some of their mystique. Still, Nissel deserves her moment in the sun. As a struggling college student at the University of Pennsylvania, she decided that to keep her mind off her empty stomach, she would keep a journal of her days and post it on the Net. The result is a series of biting, funny entries about the evil atmosphere of check-cashing offices, the horror of being two cents short for the grocery bill and the joys of making friends who buy dinner. Her wry thoughts about being flat broke will appeal to readers who enjoyed Bridget Jones's exploits and similarly sparky works. Nissel is no fictional Bridget, however, obsessing about weight and cigarettes. She's a city girl who knows the exact price of ramen noodles and the pain of counting pennies. Although she occasionally recycles material, she rants with aplomb, using colorful anecdotes (her elderly landlord comes for the rent and ends up falling asleep on the couch) to pull the reader further into her impoverished reality. She doesn't delve into the actual fear and pain associated with poverty, but views her time of hunger with amusement, like a financial misadventure that she always knew would end. Charming and sharp, Nissel's diary will be relished by anyone who's ever been a student and remembers those ramen noodles. (Apr.) Forecast: Already a palpable presence on, a hip-hop Web site she cofounded that receives 500,000 visitors a day, Nissel has a solid base constituency. With a blurb from Chris Rock, a five-city author tour, stickering campaigns in several key cities and a low cover price, this paperback original is poised for success. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt


Dear Broke Diary:

Knowledge should be free. And today, at the University of Pennsylvania, it was. Only with the truly broke can a beautifully planned day of study turn into a burglary. I love having the same classes as my friends. Usually, when we combine our purchasing power, we can afford all of the books for the class.

One set that we all share, of course. But not this anthropology class me and Janelle, my closest brokest friend, are enrolled in.

This class has three required books and a bulkpack (a bound collection of essays from multiple authors). What the hell was this professor thinking? I wish they bootlegged books like they bootleg albums. Where's the man with the briefcase full of stolen books? Eff a fake Gucci watch. Start hawking photocopies of textbooks. You'll be a tax-free millionaire in no time.

No, know what I want? Thugs who just rough up professors who assign too many books. Especially professors who assign books they themselves authored. The book thugs wouldn't hurt 'em, just, like, corner them in a lab late one night and scare them into shame.

Thug [knocking petri dish to the floor]: Yeah, I knocked over your little dish! You wanna do something about it?! Huh, do you??!

Professor [cowering in corner]: Please, sir!!! Leave me be!! Is it money you're after? I don't have any money in here! Just fetal pigs!

Thug: Sure, you don't have any money! We know you're getting kickbacks from the publishing companies for assigning these overpriced books!! And how are you going to assign a book you wrote your damn self?!! Why, I should-

Professor: Please, take all the drugs you want! In fact, I'll make you some drugs! Please, go!

Thug [punches hole in Periodic Table of Elements Chart]: I'll be back.

Oops. I didn't mean to start writing a screenplay. Sorry. Just get a little emotional sometimes. Got all this aggression up in me 'cause, man, I wanna learn, too! Anyway. Me and 'Nelle did split the cost of the anthro bulkpack but, man, we were jonesing for that textbook. Not having that textbook has put us mad behind. Yesterday, we made a plan to bridge that broke learning gap.

Janelle is convinced Joel, the teaching assistant, gives her special looks during class. (Yes, she said "special looks." How funny, right?!! What the hell is a "special look"?) So she suggested we go to his office hours and double-team him: I'd kiss up and she'd flirt. Anyway, I was down for the plan, but the only special look I want from Joel is the look he gives my midterms and final when he smacks an A on both of 'em. Today was supposed to be the first day on the quest to have Joel smack my A. Janelle and I met up in front of Van Pelt Library and walked over to the university museum.

Just two normal, innocent college girls walking to class. We could have made the "Guide for Prospective Parents" video. Janelle even had a bow in her hair. Ah, it was perfect. We were still pure and innocent as we walked up the museum stairs, down the left-end hall, and into Joel's office. He wasn't there, so we just plopped down on the beat-up office love seat and started chatting. That's when we saw it. Perched on top of a stack of papers on his desk.

Yes, it was . . . The Textbook. Okay, actually, 'Nelle saw it first. We were talking, and all of a sudden her eyes got wide like saucers. Her voice dropped to an urgent whisper. "Oh shit, Ang! Look! Look! On the desk!" Mmmm, yes. That book looked beautiful in all of its unbroken-spined glory. Shiny, happy book.

With the words "Educator's Edition" emblazoned in gold across the front. Polished gold, not dull gold like the cafeteria workers' teeth. I wanted to pick it up, to touch it, to write down some of the sacred "Educator's Edition" notes I knew were contained therein. I wanted to look in it so badly, but that's rude, right? You can't touch someone's stuff while they aren't there. Oh, but it was calling me. . . . It was so shiny, so new . . . so- WOW.

Janelle's a bad sis. I was scared to touch the book, but in some wild fit of broke bibliomania, her ass done picked it up and ran out the door with it. Damn! Ladies and gentlemen, the book has left the building! I was thinking, Oh my God! Do I sit here? Do I follow her?

One of those lectures my mom gave me when I was little came into my head. How if my friends stole Now and Laters from the corner store and I was with them, I'd go to jail, too. I can see us now, getting kicked out of college for this. Liberal politicians would use our dilemma as evidence of how unequal educational opportunities are: "They got kicked out of school for wanting to learn!" And can you imagine me telling my mom what I got kicked out of school for?

Oh my God, what do I do? Then reality kicked in. Um, do I want to be the only one sitting here when Joel comes back and sees his book is missing? I gotta have my girl's back. And I have to pass this class. Viva la Stolen Textbook! And an Educator's Edition, at that. Damn, I am so proud of Janelle. That's my girl!

Now that I'm home, and I realize we're probably not going to get caught, I'm a little jealous she has the textbook. I'm going to go to the other T.A.'s office hours tomorrow. Bet he got an Educator's Edition book, too. I'll be damned if Janelle gets better grades and special looks.

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Meet the Author

Angela Nissel is cofounder and site manager for which gets 300,000 hits a day and was named Best New Website at this year’s Online Hip-Hop Awards. She has a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia.

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