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Death by Leisure: A Cautionary Tale

3.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  109 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
The hilariously intrepid young author of War Reporting for Cowards returns from Iraq only to dive head-first into another absurd, terrifying world: the American leisure class. Like Hunter Thompson crossed with one of David Brooks’s bobos in paradise, Ayres embeds himself in LA’s “liesuretocracy”: an over-the-top world of caviar facials, billionaire charity balls, souped-up ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 15th 2009 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published July 10th 2008)
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Jun 08, 2009 Paul rated it really liked it
Ok let's cut the shit. I don't like Chris Ayres and I don't like people like Chris Ayres -- and it sounds like L.A. is crawling with them. That said, Chris Ayres is one hell of a funny guy. Whining, self-deprecating, unabashedly materialistic, and hopeless with the women... I mean, the guy sells his furniture on craigs list as a ploy to get women to talk to him??? Would I take the guy's phone call? No fucking way. Did I think I'd finish a semi-autobiography by the guy? Not on your life. But I di ...more
Apr 04, 2009 Michael rated it did not like it
Shelves: pop-culture
Well written, but lacking in substance. Reading this book was like eating popcorn. You don't actually enjoy it, but you keep eating it anyway.
Oct 31, 2012 Ashley rated it it was ok
A pretty quick read that follows the author as he moves to LA from back-of-the-woods English town. This is a few years before the housing crisis of 2007, so he - predictably - goes hogwild with credit cards, personal loans, and a ridiculous ARM loan on "the perfect bachelor pad". He also leases a Range Rover.

This book actually reminds EXACTLY of "Save Karyn" but from a guy's POV. Except whereas Karyn was saved by her website and then got a book deal, Ayres went straight for the book deal about
Brendan Suszynski
Jul 26, 2014 Brendan Suszynski rated it liked it
While well written and full of ridiculous analogies and self deprecating humor, it was fairly preachy about it's subject matter. Ayres' Pre-Recession misadventures as a Hollywood Reporter and his playful nihilism toward how American Excess is harming the enviornment make for enjoyable reads, but it's not like he's saying things that haven't been said on these issues, hence the three stars.
Jun 29, 2010 Ashley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up because I really enjoyed the laugh-aloud tale of Ayres' "War Reporting for Cowards". But his sophomore "Death by Leisure" was lacking. While amusing and a quick read, "Death by Leisure" -- upon some Googling of the topics the author brought up -- was more of a rehash of Ayres' columns strung together under the umbrella of environmental and economical references. I liked it as a quick read, and could relate, having known some of the LA culture as well as the realities of being a ...more
May 08, 2009 Keith rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading. I'm not kidding. If you want to understand why the economy (and the weather for that matter) is so ridiculously horrible, you should read this book. I barely understood why the housing market collapsed until I read this book. Hilarious and yet disturbing, Chris Ayres delivers another homerun. And if you haven't read War Reporting For Cowards (also by Ayres) yet, check it out, definitely worth your time and money.
Jun 01, 2010 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
This is a must read book for everyone who is wondering what the hell happened to the economy in the past 2 years. As Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy and he is us". The recent crisis in Europe will make its way to China--this is a "Domino Theory" that is a real threat--and the people who are overusing and overbuying will have to get a clue.
Jun 03, 2009 Maya rated it liked it
This is a fun and funny book about Ayres experience living in LA leading up to and into the housing collapse. He does a great job making fun of himself which is a good quality. And you can stop to examine your own ridiculous excesses and follies when you know his are at least as bad. It's not earth-shattering but it is fun to read.
Arapahoe Libraries
Apr 28, 2009 Arapahoe Libraries rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, nonfiction
Chris Ayres wanted everything now: a million-dollar home, a super-hot girlfriend, a credit-card-enabled life of leisure, a cushy job. He moved from a sheep-raising village in England to LA, where indeed he could get everything now. Be prepared to laugh out loud!
Apr 16, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it
I think this guy is up there with P.J. O"Rourke with his insight into what the current world is like and with very funny and insightful views that describe the world as it is even though those realities aren't always easy to see in the here and now.

Jul 07, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it
Great storytelling from an English reporter diving into life in L.A., and about overconsumption and the breakdown of our economy and environment, though you often feel that Ayres doesn't do enough in the way of practicing what he preaches, or...learns.
Oct 07, 2010 Stefani rated it liked it
Shelves: funny, beach-read
This book was quite funny in parts, but large stretches made me zone out (mostly the authors musings on environmental downfall and the impending apocalypse). I would rate this a 4 and 1/2 for humor alone but the other parts really dragged it down.
Marianne Wassmer
Jan 28, 2011 Marianne Wassmer rated it liked it
A very funny look at greed in Los Angeles right before the "bubble" burst. You should condemn the author fior his excess, though you can't, because it's too much fun. Not great literature, but fun to read.
Jul 22, 2009 Chris rated it liked it
Fairly amusing. fun, but with a bit of a lack of foucus. If you want to read something good by him, do war reporting for cowards- all the fun, but he was forced to focus on a unifying theme.
Nov 03, 2014 Shayne rated it liked it
Shelves: real-book
I got probably halfway through this before realizing that it was not a fictional novel. The writing is funny, if a little depressing, and the tale will stick with you for some time.
Andrew Major
Feb 06, 2009 Andrew Major rated it it was amazing
Very smart and engaging. Laugh-out-loud funny all the way through. He sums up our current culture of consumption like nobody else. Think Jon Stewart meets Ricky Gervais.
Michael Andersen-Andrade
Oct 10, 2009 Michael Andersen-Andrade rated it really liked it
A thoroughly enjoyable tale of financial crash and burn in Los Angeles......I felt a strong shudder of "hmmm.....I'm heading down the same path" as I read it.
Anne Walbridge
Jun 27, 2009 Anne Walbridge rated it really liked it
Highly entertaining fish-out-of-water story (here the fish is an Englishman in LA) with nuggets of Deep Thoughts about overconsumption and the apocalypse.
Apr 05, 2010 Michael rated it it was amazing
A great book. Laughs on every page, and a good reminder that our society, in the perspective of sanity and rationality, is incredibly delusional.
Brian Indrelunas
Yes, Kate, I finally finished it.

And unlike Ashley (who gave me this book), I actually liked Ayres' second book at least as much as his first.
Beata Bowen
Apr 10, 2010 Beata Bowen rated it really liked it
I am SO glad I don't have to live in LA... Although if I did live in LA, I could write a book about it. Just like Chris Ayres did.
Feb 28, 2009 Catherine rated it it was amazing
A fantastic read! A rollercoaster ride filled with that self depeicating humor that makes you squirm and laugh all at the same moment.
Mar 12, 2009 jamie rated it liked it
how high-flying US lifestyles have contributed to environmental and economic collapse...Sierra Club magazine thinks it's good.
Feb 15, 2012 Mary rated it liked it
A British reporter living in Los Angeles with Gatsbyesque excess covering showbiz. Bizarre, exaggerated, humorous.
Apr 05, 2011 Jenny rated it liked it
Mildly amusing - the poor man's Chuck Klosterman but nowhere as witty or funny as Klosterman.
May 17, 2009 Ayelet rated it liked it
Commentary about the environment is hidden in his wish to be rich.
Mar 25, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
a must-read for any aspiring blagger
Apr 19, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing
Fucking hilarious!
Oleg Kagan
Aug 01, 2009 Oleg Kagan rated it it was amazing

what a GREAT book: very funny, thoughtful & insightful, social criticism at its finest; outsider's perspective on L.A., and insider's perspective on pop culture & media, conspicuous consumption (and the weather), and the economic bubble. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Julie marked it as to-read
Jun 16, 2016
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