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Leisureville: Adventures in a World Without Children

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  278 ratings  ·  65 reviews
When his next-door neighbors in a quaint New England town suddenly pick up and move to a gated retired community in Florida called The Villages, Andrew Blechman is astonished by their stories, so he goes to investigate. Larger than Manhattan, with a golf course for every day of the month, two downtowns, its own newspaper, radio, and TV station, The Villages is a city of ne ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 8th 2009 by Grove Press (first published December 31st 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Clif Hostetler
Would you feel abandoned if your long time neighbors after many years of community involvement suddenly announced that they are retiring and plan to move to a retirement community in Florida? Why are people willing to move away from a lifetime collection of friends and acquaintances to a place where they don’t know anybody? That’s what the author of this book was wondering when his neighbors did exactly that.

So Blechman, the author, visited his neighbors at their new address in the Villages, “t
...more
Patrick Gibson
Apr 21, 2009 Patrick Gibson rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like social commentary road trips
Recommended to Patrick by: I won't hold it against you! You know who you are!
Shelves: truth_sort-of
Once upon a time in a far off land where senior citizens are required to drive like turtles in the passing lane and early bird specials begin at 3:30 in the afternoon, a mythical kingdom of glossy painted false-fronted shops, inestimable golf courses and cookie-cutter screened-in homes grew out of marshy swamps at a furious rate in order to create a mass market theme park for post war baby boomers riding golf carts in their imminent march towards old age, a whippy little thirty year old author d ...more
Terry
Where do I begin? I found that Blechman started with the premise that all retirees buying into age-restricted communities were selfish seniors who didn't want to be around children. He then set out to support that premise.

His experience of the Villages is a clear example. Instead of using the weekly activity guide to visit lots of different venues, clubs and happenings, Blechman chose to hang out with Mr. Midnight and his crew at Katie Belles, the Bistro and even Mr. Midnight's house more than h
...more
Peter
Misses a good opportunity to explore the subject from a more scholarly approach by throwing in entertaining but pointless stories of wacky old people. Also, as should be evident by the sub-title, the author makes a huge assumption that a world without children is the most undesirable world imaginable. I'm sure His kid is smarter/cuter/funnier/more amazing than any child I have ever met, so I will let that slide. Oh, if only I had children then perhaps my life wouldn't feel so empty. I'm going to ...more
David
Fairly readable diatribe against age-segregated retirement communities, centering mostly on The Villages, a huge complex in Florida. The author is front-and-center in the proceedings as he tags along with seniors -- drag racing a rental golf cart, going out drinking every night, etc. The book seemed proximally motivated by his neighbors moving to The Villages, but he also acknolwedges near the end that his parents have moved to an age-segregated place in New York.

There's a good point about probl
...more
Delani
I don’t know what prompted me to pick up “Leisureville” by Andrew D. Blechman. I’m far away from retirement (assuming I will even be able to retire). Even so, there has always been something about these Stepford-like developments that has fascinated, and scared, me.
I tore through it in one afternoon. As a piece of literary journalism, it shines: there were places where I laughed out loud (such as when the author tries to make contact with closeted lesbians in The Villages), but a lot of the book
...more
Allison
I picked this up because I will be visiting The Villages in a few weeks. And wouldn't you know, the Heart of Darkness is in central Florida. And the price of admission is steep.

This book is well-written and well-organized, and generally does an admirable job of tempering its critiques of this and other geritopias with empathy for and insight into what in the world would spur folks to move there in the first place. The author is a new father, which undoubtedly goes a long way toward his taking t
...more
Doug
I just returned a couple of weeks ago from the Villages. It was my first visit there. I visited my sister and her husband in their new retirement home...I have to say, that I was impressed with how beautiful, and nearly "perfect" everything was.... but somehow, my wife and I felt a little uneasy with the place. I couldn't quite put my finger on what seemed wrong. My sister was almost evangelical in her zeal about the Villages, and thought that I should want what she has.....

I found and read Blec
...more
Carye Bye
I read this book while traveling on vacation and really enjoyed it. I liked how Andrew got inside the retirement communities and was opinionated but kind realizing it works for some not others. I enjoyed getting to know the neighbors he was meeting along with him, and was personal;ly interested in the whole idea and who is into it via a sociological viewpoint.
Simone

I'll be honest, I had never heard of The Villages before I heard a relative was thinking of moving there. Then I became fascinated with it. I already have more than a passing interest in master-planned Florida communities like Celebration and Seaside, so this just fit right in. I was hoping this would be a more scholarly account, but it's more ethnographic study of life in The Villages. That's good too though, and it describes what life down there is like and the Faustian style bargain most peop
...more
Judy
As a scholarly research driven book, Leisureville fails miserably; however as a pseudo/tongue in cheek analysis of the growing trend toward 55+ retirement communities the book is a success. Blechman's major concern is age segregation - that by "allowing" 55+ communities to exist that all sorts of "bad" things will follow! I'll leave it to future readers to "discover" what those "bad" things will be according to Blechman.

If you're considering a move to one of these communities, I suggest that thi
...more
Laura
Interesting info about what goes on in an adult 55+ community. On one hand it sounds great, on the other downright creepy....not sure if we would be happy in one.
Deb
A nice quick read about a growing retirement community. It provides a viewpoint on gated communities and their value for individuals and impact on society. I know a few people who flock as snowbirds to The Villages so I know that the community has already been forced to change since the book was written. It now has a school because it found that it needed to support the employees who keep the community functioning. The wealth of activity options is awesome. The lack of sidewalks and community de ...more
Julie
Leisureville is an exposée of The Villages, one of America's growing age-segregated retirement communities. When Blechman's neighbors leave their New England town for sunny Florida to spend their retirement basking in the sun and playing golf, Blechman engineers an invite to stay for a month and report on what he sees.

The results aren't quite what you'd expect. Most residents of The Villages are happy to be there, even blissfully happy. And why not? They're treated to non-stop entertainment with
...more
Jukka
Leisureville - Andrew Blechman
This is about the failure and exploitation of the American political and economic system, by developers who sell age-segregated 'communities' to an elite of retired citizens. It also examines the goals and wishes of 'seniors' who are attracted by these developments. It looks specifically at 'Sun City' in Arizona and 'The Villages' in Florida, looking at what life there is like. I found the details of political and economic abuses by Gary Morse of 'The Villages' very
...more
J.


The Bingo game is held in one of the larger rooms at the recreation center. The parking lot is filled with cars and golf carts. Inside, nobody shows the slightest interest in helping me find a seat. Bingo, I learn, attracts a tough crowd. Social niceties quickly give way to acerbic moodiness as soon as the bingo balls start bouncing...


With a slow, soft target like this one, I had the impression that Leisureville would prove to be what is today called a 'hit piece', formerly known as a hatchet j
...more
Stephanie
I moved to The Villages 9 months ago. In this book Mr. Blechman provided the most accurate explanation I have received on how government and taxes work here. You really have to dig to get this information.

On the other hand he could not be further off as to why people move here and what type of people we are. He also totally missed sharing the efforts of the residents to help the many homeless and poverty level people, especially children, who live around The Villages. And that is only the tip o
...more
Mark
really fasincating. i'd had this book reccommended to me when i was working in florida by one of the locals. it's pretty amazing. though some of the opinions get a little repetitive, the author keeps it well balanced and really humanizes the people he's interviewed. i liked his point at the end also. these communities are based on age-segregation and though i certainly understand not wanting to live around kids, the book really opened my eyes to what a really bad idea this is on a large scale. y ...more
Melinda
I seriously wanted this book to be a fictional dystopia.

The idea of people so willingly moving away from all family and children and only living with the old and wealthy is just so contrary to all the family is forever thinking that we hold dear in the LDS church. And everyday at the DaVinci Center I work with amazing senior volunteers that pass on the love they've learned for science to the children who visit our technology museum. And our churches, neighborhoods and families need this adoptabl
...more
Jeannette
I was feeling a bit bummed when I read the last bit of this book, so I was in downer-city when I finished. Instead of rallying with the author to find real communities in your own neighbourhood, I found the whole thought of developers creating faux communities pretty disheartening & downright sickening. People - and not just seniors - wanting to escape from reality and live without a care for the outside world in planned communities makes me want to gag. While the author was pretty clear wit ...more
Brian S. Wise
You suspect "Adventures in a world without children" is just a way to sell this book; in fact, Blechman has a lot of trouble getting his head around the fact a large number of people outgrow children and the complications they present. This could have been a four star book, but for Blechman's returning to this distraction again and again.
Noah
This book revolves around Blechman's stay in The Villages, the world's largest retirement community (it's in Florida, of course). There's far too much in here about the quirks of The Villages and its residents, and not enough of the rest. He tries to look what effect isolating the elderly from everyone else has on both sides, and what generational turnover means for political participation, community cohesion, and so on, but I felt like he never got to the heart of the matter. My favorite parts ...more
Alan Cunningham
Great as always, Blechman talks to everybody and gets a great story.
Kristy
This book takes a look at age segregated retirement communities in the United States, concentrating on the community of over 100,000 at The Villages in central Florida where my in-laws have been considering moving. This senior playground full of activities and golf carts has its downside too. The author gives the history of this housing movement (including Sun City) and the likely trends for the aging baby boomers. While I was interested in learning about The Villages, I found the book dull, poo ...more
John
Author focuses on life in Florida's "The Villages" retirement zone, with side trips to Phoenix-area sites, such as Sun City, for contrast. Management control of The Villages seemed reminiscient of the television series The Prisoner to me; some residents agreed that they have no meaningful "rights", but feel the advantages are worth it. At times Blechman tries a bit too hard (crashing the quasi-lesbian softball scene - such as it is - with "My brother's gay!" made me cringe), but I came away feel ...more
Carla
I had been anxious to read this, to see whether these places are as much like "Stepford" as I imagine they are ... and it sounds like I was pretty much right. On the surface these kinds of communities sound like a good idea, although in the end maybe not so much. Still, I don't think they deserve the vehement bad review given by the author at the end of the book. Nonetheless, a lot of interesting, thought-provoking points are made, which caused me to consider the issue from more viewpoints than ...more
Erik
I first heard of this book when I heard the author interviewed on NPR. Blechman, in his 30s, researched the book by spending a month living with retired friends in Florida's The Villages. It was really interesting reading about life in these "Utopias," though the residents' constant "everything's great" assessment of their lives reminded me constantly of The Stepford Wives." Blechman also spends a good deal of time talking about the uncomfortable parallels between age-restricted communities and ...more
Du
Not sure what I expected, so I am not sure if this fit the bill. It is an interesting book about the rise of retirement communities. Some of the facts and history seem outlandish, and other things make perfect sense. I was intrigued by the overall topic of age restricted communities, and this might be a better book than I rate it, because I don't like the idea of segregating ages, or the idea of giving up the right to vote for your local government (you essentially live in a company town).
Karen
This was on my list because my parents now live in The Villages, the main focus of the book. I felt the author spent too many pages on the party crowd, which I don't think is representative of the the majority community. And I felt the author could have spent more time explaining the financial and political environment of this type of planned community. Overall, the portrayal of the regular folks who bought in to the villages seems on the mark, as does the emphasis on golf carts.
Becky
Don't publishing houses use proofreaders anymore? This book was filled with errors of word choice ("contemptuous" when he meant "contentious"), spelling errors ("hanger" for an airplane hangar) and punctuation gaffes. Sheesh.

The book isn't all that well written, but the societal trend it examines is alarming and a little creepy. Age segregation, permanent vacation, living for self-gratification -- all signs of a selfish, self-serving, disgusting society.
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