8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2008
Of course this handbook is superficially appealing - hedonism, bohemianism, licentiousness all sound like terribly cool things to aspire to. And this book is well-designed and slickly-packaged into a tempting little impulse purchase at the bookshop counter, or as a gift for a friend... But this is Amazon, and we're infored buyers here! A few moments' thought reveal this book to be more a triumph of marketing than real hedonism:
1. Would Casanoa or Oscar Wilde need to buy a book to be told how to find pleasure and how to relax? No! That's much too dictatorial an approach for true hedonis. Pleasure and leisure are about what make *you* happy, and you don't need to be told what you find enjoyable.
2. This book is incredibly poorly written - it's clearly a rush-job for the cash. The opening history section is just a collection of superficial and often-false stereotypes about classical cultures, with Epicureanism entirely misrepresented, the fall of the Roman epire so siplified as to be laughable, and utter untruths about Edwardian ladies and piercings. (Ask a gender historian: they didn't!)
3. You could find most of the quotations that make up much of this book with a few seconds on a search engine. That's the real leisurely way of doing it!
The book's overall message about ours being a pleasure-phobic society, obsessed with work and achievement and losing sight about what really matters in life? Utterly correct. But 'The Hedonism Handbook' is just too fun and flip to make you think deeply enough about how to *really* change your life for the better. Be a real hedonist: spend your money on a bottle of wine, not this book!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2008
It's fun and yet salient.
Rather U.S centric, but great for the long train ride home from the office.
Others will wonder what you are laughing at, and then you can show them the cover.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2006
Very funny, but constantly relevant, tour of vice and its virtues. This book isnt' all about sex, drugs and rock n' roll (althought there's plenty of those things if that's what you're into. Rather, it focuses on pleasure as a much wider concept, embracing everything from great art, to food, the origins of the term "hedonism", and, my personal favourite, a list of history's most debauched figures. Great fun.