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Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries
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Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  4,913 ratings  ·  540 reviews
The New York Times–bestselling author of The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson writes about the dark, uncanny sides of humanity with clarity and humor. Lost at Sea reveals how deep our collective craziness lies, even in the most mundane circumstances.

Ronson investigates the strange things we’re willing to believe in, from lifelike robots programmed with our loved ones’ personali...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published November 27th 2012 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Sam Quixote
In nearly every article of the book, journalist Jon Ronson is able to pick an extraordinary subject to write about in an interesting and engaging way. I loved reading about real life “superhero” Phoenix Jones as he patrols the streets of Chicago, trying to make drunk drivers eat tacos before getting behind the wheel, or discovering that the rap duo Insane Clown Posse have been covert Christians their entire careers, believing they were making converts of their listeners subliminally for 20 years...more
Mac
Ronson has a good eye for bizarre nonfiction investigation. He writes about assisted suicide practitioners, people preparing for alien visits, robots with artificial intelligence, a high school mass murder plot in North Pole, Alaska, a Christmas themed town, and a person's mysterious disappearance from a Disney cruise ship. Each chapter is a captivating subject, and together they paint a picture of the strange world we live in. So I read with interest.

That said, I found many chapters to be thin...more
Ana Mardoll
Lost At Sea / 9781594631375

I read this book because it was selected for our book club, and I am terribly disappointed with it. I don't recommend this book at any price, for I found it to be very poorly researched and (more importantly) to put forth some really contemptible ideas about marginalized people and victims of abuse.

I initially thought this book to be a collection of journalistic articles on various interesting and zany topics, but I found the "journalism" part to be very lacking. In a...more
Anna Janelle
SIX STARS, I say. SIX STARS for Jon Ronson!

I'm always amazed by Jon Ronson's style. He is witty, self-depreciating and observant. This collection of non-fiction stories takes a look at both those on the fringe of society (other-worldly Indigo children, psychics, robot-enthusiasts, and Jesus Christian cults) as well as issues that affect more ordinary people (like the economic collapse, unequal taxation as well as crime and punishment). I've been told that the many of the short stories in this co...more
Steve Johnson
When I saw that this book opens with Ronson's Insane Clown Posse interview (which is one of my favorite things ever), I was afraid it would be downhill from there. To some extent, that turned out to be true--the ICP interview is still probably my favorite piece--but for the most part it's a pretty gentle descent. Some articles are better than others, but they're all good and a few are very good. Unlike Ronson's previous books of (if I remember Jon Stewart's phrase correctly) "satirical investiga...more
Eris
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Edwards
Jon Ronson writes for the Guardian UK, and this is a collection of articles from his works. It’s his third collection of such articles, and while the first two are more about himself, this one picks up the thread in his earlier work Them: Adventures with Extremists. He also wrote The Men Who Stare at Goats, and The Psychopath Test.

I read The Psychopath Test based solely on Ronson’s interview on The Daily Show, and picked up Lost at Sea for the same reason. I saw the film version of The Men Who S...more
Lea
3.5 stars

I'm a big fan of Jon Ronson, so I had to buy this book as soon as I saw he had something new out. Like many of his other books, this one is a collection of shorter essays or articles. This book deals with a wide range of subjects, from juggalos to income disparity in the U.S. It's all fascinating, but the majority of the pieces are so short that they end up feeling insubstantial, and ultimately forgettable. I will continue seeking out Ronson's previous books, and I will certainly buy an...more
Ron Davidson
First, let me say I loved "The Psychopath Test," and the author is always interesting on TV shows -- very witty, but also skilled at reporting unusual stories with clarity and depth. This book, however, failed to excite me, and it's hard to explain why. Perhaps because it is composed of a series of essays that, although they are presented in thematic sections, don't really offer any grand narratives or analysis, beyond something like "people's lives are very different." Perhaps I went into the b...more
Philip Same
Jon Stewart hit nearer the mark when assigning the title of "investigative satire" to Ronson's brand of gonzoesque journalism. Though, we must consider the authors own deviation from what he admitted to be an apt title, in his deployment of "investigative humorism" as a label.

I do not think that Ronson is particularly funny. He does not play with words. But, one would be a goddamned fool to not admire the stories which this man pursues. I recall standing before the shelf labeled "Sociology"...a...more
Amina |  PAPER/PLATES
Growing up, my dad taught me many important lessons. They included things like vitamin-popping, punctuality, and the lesson he reiterated the most: “Katie, people aren’t rational. Remember that.” Bestselling author Jon Ronson and my father are of the same mind. In Lost at Sea, Ronson takes us on a journey through the weirdness, superstition, and delusions that consume “ordinary” people. The book traverses the outer reaches of normality in outer reaches of the globe: North Pole, Alaska, chateaus...more
Lena
It's very hard to describe this collection of Guardian and GQ columns written by the author of Men Who Stare at Goats. On the surface, the topics sound decidedly dark - a high-school murder plot in North Pole, Alaska, the suspected cover up of the disappearance of a Disney cruise employee who went missing off a ship, the trial of an '80s pop star accused of pedophilia. But Ronson is the kind of narrator who has the gift of making all these stories accessibly human, truly fascinating, and weirdly...more
Harriet Kelly
For subject matter that is not that out of the ordinary, Ronson puts a strange spin on everything that he covers. When his articles start with something strange, he makes it stranger. Does he live in this weird state or just take us there as his occupation?

I don't care - I really like reading what he has to say. He draws few conclusions but reading a couple of articles in a row leaves me looking at my world a little differently and makes me wonder about how many conclusions I come to every day t...more
Lizixer
If Jon Ronson likes or doesn't like one of his subjects, he says so. He has empathy for those who live strange or unconventional lives and is not afraid to criticise those he thinks are taking advantage of others. Sometimes he laughs at people, but only those he thinks are rich enough to take it. He presents with quiet dignity the lives of those who are struggling. He's a funny, self-deprecating writer, who can also use silence in his interviews to make some powerful points about self-delusion....more
Allison
A clever, darkly witty book from the author of "The Psychopath Test" and "The Men Who Stare At Goats". Highly recommended.
Megan
I had to get my hands on another book of Jon Ronson's after recently reading The Psychopath Test, which I still cannot stop thinking about and rated five stars.

This book covers equally odd and fascinating topics, although overall the writing and even some of the topics are a little hit and miss. But, that is to be expected. There are 20+ essays here, and all relatively interesting, but not every single one can be an A+, home run.

A few thoughts:

-Some of the celebrity stories and profiles are actu...more
Kathrina
I admire Ronson's courage in having conversations -- not arguments or interrogations, but respectful give-and-takes -- with people whose beliefs are wildly opposite of his own. But I imagine the downside of making your living this way is when you slowly start to doubt your own long-held beliefs, when common sense starts to turn a little gray when you've tried on too many other peoples' shoes. How long can you fake being part of the crowd in order to get the story, before you find yourself gettin...more
Emily
In this collection, mostly consisting of articles he wrote for The Guardian, journalist Jon Ronson investigates many things a lot of us have wondered about, as well as some things we never even thought to wonder about. A short list includes celebrity psychics, credit card offers, Juggalos, Stanley Kubrick's house, Indigo children, AI robotics, NLP, and people who go missing from cruise ships.
The chapters are brief, just long enough to skim the surface of the topic at hand, but Ronson asks his i...more
Paul Cheney
Ronson is an investigative journalist of some note. He has always sought to engage those at the very periphery of society, and his sympathetic form of interviewing enable him to get the best out of his subjects.

This book is a collection of his writings on meeting all sorts of people, from Robbie Williams at an alien abductees conference to correspondence with the despicable Jonathan King at his trial for child abuse. He talks to families who have lost sons and daughters working on cruise ships a...more
Jennie
Ronson is that rare journalist who transcends his usual medium (The Guardian) to become something greater: a fantastic narrative non-fiction writer. In this book, he departs from his usual format of longer investigative pieces to present a collection of his best satirical and self-deprecating works. Each of his subjects may live crazy lives, but Ronson is a master at finding the humanity in every uncanny circumstance. Highlights include an interview of the rap duo known as the Insane Clown Posse...more
Anna
This is a great collection of short articles and interviews with some eclectic and eccentric people. Highlights for me were the hilarious interviews with ICP trying to be taken seriously, sifting through the estate and legacy of Stanley Kubrick, the heart-wrenching and sickening story of man committing suicide after managing to accrue a hundred thousand pounds of debt and the ambiguity of Jonathan King, perhaps a pedophile?
I haven't read Ronson before, and I enjoyed his style - clear and concise...more
Trache Can
I liked Jon Ronson a lot, and I had read some of the stories from here and enjoyed them--but stumbling upon Ana Mardoll's Goodreads review, I don't think I can condone him as a writer anymore.

Victim-blaming is always a no, so is racism, and where the two intersect--but apparently Ronson doesn't know that enough to sympathize with sexual assault victims, murder victims, or people of color.

Disappointing really.
Alex Sarll
Much of this journalism collection I read when the pieces were originally published, some more in my mum's copy of the collection at Christmas, and I've just polished off the rest in a library copy. Except that some pieces I read on two (or in one case three) of those occasions, because Ronson at his best is that good. Yes, gonzo journalism is now mainstream, but when Ronson situates himself in the story, he does so not as some gung-ho parody of Hunter, not as a faux-everyman, but as *himself*,...more
Mark
Ronson is a British journalist. Each of these stories were featured in the Guardian. I had not heard of this immensely talented Brit but I do now.
He has an uncanny ability to track down, investigate and report, the most fascinating stories out there. In the opener, he interviews the members of the Insane Clown Posse, a rock rap group, ( I have never heard them but they sound terrible) which ends up being incredibly funny and surprisingly sad. Then we move on to lifelike robots that can communica...more
Kaethe
Ronson interviews people who are unusual. Sometimes for their beliefs, sometimes for the jobs, sometimes even just for their incomes. He is often sympathetic to horrible situations, particularly the grief of parents for missing children. In turn, he is harshest on those who abuse grieving parents (Sylvia Browne comes across as both bogus and truly horrible). He doesn���t seem to understand the definitions of words like pedophile, nor have even a rudimentary understand of how sexual predators gro...more
Chuck's Junk
My wife brought this home from the library because a review compared Mr. Ronson favorably to Sarah Vowel, one of my favorites. The essays ranged from good to brilliant. Standing out in my memory was a fascinating deconstruction of a sham psychic who preys on the families of missing children set against a cruise ship voyage chartered by the self-same psychic and a laugh-out loud account of driving a donated Aston Martin across France in a dubious attempt to live out a famous voyage from a James B...more
Vincy
This is the best John Ronson book yet. I suppose if I had a subscription to the Guardian, I would have been familiar with many of these articles before, but I found them brilliant, entertaining and insightful.

Oh, he's biased, all right. He doesn't seem to believe in much, and he seems baffled by those who do. But, he does appear to try to cover the various sides of different cases. You're never confused about where he stands, but I feel he leaves enough room to draw your own conclusions.

When he...more
Amy
Ronson voyages once again into the world of oddballs, conspiracy theorists, psychopaths, and the Insane Clown Posse (but I repeat myself). Some of these pieces, most of which were written for the Guardian, feel a little too short and seem to just stop instead of working to a satisfying conclusion -- I wanted him to dig deeper into the whole Indigo Children nonsense, for example. Two standout pieces: one examining the many ways credit card companies target the people most likely to get into debt,...more
Jess McCabe
A brilliant collection. This reminded me why Jon Ronson is such a skilled journalist and storyteller. I had read some of these articles before, such as Ronson's investigation into a young woman lost at sea while working on a Disney cruise, but most were new to me - especially some of the older reportage.

Even though he deals with some serious and important issues, my favourite was actually the hilarious story about Ronson recreating one of James Bond's car journeys, even though he doesn't really...more
I-Ching
I love Jon Ronson. I love his writing style, his self-deprecating humor, and his fascinating pursuits. I was ready to love this book, since I am a huge fan of his other three (Them: Adventures with Extremists, The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Psychopath Test) -- but this collection of articles he had written for The Guardian only left me wishing for more. Some of the topics were fascinating, some briefly interesting. Many could have been expanded and updated, delving more into the subject. I woul...more
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Jon Ronson is a writer and documentary film maker. His books, Them: Adventures With Extremists and The Men Who Stare At Goats were international bestsellers. The Men Who Stare At Goats was adapted into a major motion picture starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges.

He's written the popular "Human Zoo" and "Out of the Ordinary" columns for The Guardian, where he still c...more
More about Jon Ronson...
The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry Them: Adventures with Extremists The Men Who Stare at Goats Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie

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“A strange thing happens when you interview a robot. You feel an urge to be profound: to ask profound questions. I suppose it’s an inter-species thing. Although if it is I wonder why I never try and be profound around my dog.
‘What does electricity taste like?’ I ask.
‘Like a planet around a star,’ Bina48 replies.
Which is either extraordinary or meaningless - I’m not sure which”
6 likes
“It is slightly chilling to realize there are rational, functional people up there employed to spot, nurture, and exploit those down here among us who are irrational and can barely cope. If you want to know how stupid you’re perceived to be by the people up there, count the unsolicited junk mail you receive. If you get a lot, you’re perceived to be alluringly stupid.” 5 likes
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