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The Enthusiast

3.24  ·  Rating Details ·  189 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Henry Bay has his own America going. If there's an offbeat interest or extreme sport that's poised to sweep the nation, chances are there's a magazine for its enthusiasts, and chances are also good that Henry has worked there. He's a modern nomad, associate-editing his way from state to state, exploring the small worlds that make up modern America from Spelunk to Ice Climb ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published May 22nd 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Will Byrnes
Jan 20, 2016 Will Byrnes rated it it was ok
In essence this is a road book, and our narrator, Henry Bay, travels across the USA searching, for himself of course. His road consists of serial assistant editor jobs at specialist, enthusiast magazines. He covers a pretty wide range of interests, from kite-buggying to tea, from guns to crocheting. He tries out all the enthusiasms about which he writes, broadening his experience of life and meeting a wide range of interesting people. He forms and breaks relationships, meets quirky people and ...more
Jjanovyak
Jun 23, 2009 Jjanovyak rated it really liked it
As funny and sweet as it is clever and cool. Not too many authors can maintain that combination. I enjoyed this thoroughly.
Diane
Jun 29, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it
What a fun, and yet substantive, read! The plot synopsis had me at hello: Henry Bay works his way around the country, associate editing for a string of hobby magazines, like 'Ice Climbing,' 'Cozy: The Magazine of Tea,' and 'Crochet Life.'

The book is about Henry's own search for an enthusiasm of his own, but it's also a wonderful portrait of the hardcore love we develop for those pastimes that help us lose track of time. And it's about how our enthusiasms save us in difficult times. And it's abo
...more
Bonnie
Aug 15, 2009 Bonnie rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This author writes some lines that are among the best I have read in current fiction. Haas' voice vibrates with contemporary energy as his main character races from one special interest zine to the next, inhabiting the essence of each before the crumbling economy catches up with him. Simultaneously he must keep track of each of his unique family members. To read this book is to taste a bit of the culture of today before it too is gone.
Ruthmgon
Oct 31, 2009 Ruthmgon rated it liked it
This was a whim, from the new books section at the Library. It is a good little chronological yarn about brothers, the voice is from the younger brother, who discovers magazine work as an assistant editor and despite his low self esteem seems to set off on a career path of temping at small independent niche sport magazines. He travels the country and learns a little bit about everything. Strange twists happen. He grows up and A "tragic" event leads to him learning to trust himself and be ...more
Julie
Jun 29, 2009 Julie rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle-book
I was really hoping to like this book, but it was just ok. Every now and then there was a disconnect in the language so that I didn't know what the narrator was talking about. It probably would work fine as an audiobook, because it seemed like it was written in a very "this is the way I talk" language, which didn't translate on the written page all the time, because you're missing the verbal cues. Also, I just didn't quite get the point. There's some thrown in stuff at the end which is ...more
Margee
Jul 06, 2009 Margee rated it it was amazing
I've never giggled so much in solitary as when reading this book, and I'm only 60 pages in. I hate to finish it, but must keep reading at every opportunity. College student Henry Bay becomes a renaissance man, thanks to his string of editorial jobs at 'enthusiast' publications such as Spelunk, Crochet World, Kitebuggy, and Cozy: the Magazine of Tea. Luckily, he's a 'people' person who isn't hampered by a few kinks among the human resources, as he searches for his true vocation. But what will ...more
Lisa Dickinson
Apr 12, 2011 Lisa Dickinson rated it liked it
Started off slowly but half way through it started grabbing my attention. The book took you through some extreme sport experiences and was thrilling at times. The relationship between the brothers deepened and it made me look at life (and life experiences) differently. I would recommend reading this book.
Julie
Jul 30, 2009 Julie added it
Any magazine freaks will get a laugh out of hero of this book who makes his living editing "enthusiast" magazines for a living, covering topics from tea to waveboarding. You will get sucked into the flip, clever tone of this book. When the ending comes and your heart is aching, it will come as a surprise. The goodness of this book sneaks up on you!
Weasel
Mar 17, 2010 Weasel rated it did not like it
I did not enjoy this book. There are plenty of books that lack a plot, you just join the main character for a brief journey. Usually along the way the guy learns something or does something.

The protagonist in this book drifted through life pretty much learning nothing along the way. Then the book ended.

I'd ignore this unless pointless word-meandering is your thing.
Renee
Feb 12, 2010 Renee rated it liked it
The Enthusiast is a very enjoyable coming of age story, and at the same time shows the weirder side of the magazine industry.I was caught off guard at times by the sly use of humor in Haas' first novel, and at times saw shadows of Holden Caulfield in the Henry Bay, the lead character. If there were half stars, I would give this book 3.5 for sure!
Mary
Jul 09, 2009 Mary rated it really liked it
Very funny, scathing look at "enthusiasts" about a young man who writes for their magazines. Had me laughing out loud. Acute comment on our society, etc. Haas sure can write!
Sally Anne
Feb 13, 2010 Sally Anne rated it it was amazing
Read it, buy it, send it to friends.
Kristin
Jul 18, 2009 Kristin rated it it was amazing
Be sure to get the book with the Reader's Questions at the back, too funny.
Zellysgrrl
Jul 02, 2012 Zellysgrrl rated it it was amazing
This was one of the best written, wittiest books (“When your ass is your only tool, every problem looks like a couch") I've read this year (and we're talking about 130 books thus far & counting). He's a master stylist, truly original, and his material was as surprising and niche-like as the magazines his protagonist works for, jumping from kite-driving to tea-drinking, moving from one town to the next, living all over America:
“I had my own America going, a huge room lined with doors. Behind
...more
Lucas Garner
Feb 10, 2014 Lucas Garner rated it it was ok
To write novels, you need to be a good storyteller and a good writer. If you are a good storyteller, but not a good writer, write screenplays. Vice versa? Write poetry. The problem with this novel is that Charlie Haas is not a good storyteller. There are a few scenes in the story where some hope of good storytelling would shine through, but not enough to make this largely non-cohesive plot remotely plausible. The story sets up as a series of moments where the protagonist, Henry, works for a ...more
(a)lyss(a)
Jan 23, 2015 (a)lyss(a) rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this book and despite some great ideas and characters involved I didn't think it was great.

The characters are overly quirky (everyone but our main character has a thing as he drifts from one situation to another, often within pages, with no transition or clear direction or thought), and the story doesn't seem to go anyway. The situations often feel forced and instead of having character growth or a reason the story just moves on. Literally within pages with no explanations
...more
Amber
Aug 05, 2009 Amber rated it liked it
Henry can't find his own enthusiasm. So he piggybacks off others hobbies and interests by working for enthusiast magazines to fill that void.

To start out with, Henry is going to college. He picks his major, law, so that he can be involved with a lawsuit against his father's former company who took his livelihood and his pension. Henry finds out after a semester that law school isn't all he thought it was. Through an internship with the law firm who is organizing the lawsuit against his father's
...more
Nick
Sep 29, 2009 Nick rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Oh read it
Recommended to Nick by: Library shelf
Henry drops out of college and over a decade works at dozens of small magazines devoted to various hobby enthusiasts from rock climbng to skate boarding to crocheting. His brother Barney is a brilliant scientist who remains unimpressed by Henry's career. Henry's journeys take us all over America, seen through his eyes as a land of lost souls needing to lose themselves even further into bizarre hobbies and sometimes dangerous minor sports. His brother Barney, a scientist involved in stem cell ...more
Ann
Jun 19, 2009 Ann rated it it was amazing
This is a charming and funny book chock full of delightfully eccentric characters. The main character, Henry Bay, drifts through life until he lands a job at a small esoteric magazine and discovers the world of enthusiasts. He continues to drift through life never discovering his own enthusiasm until he falls in love with small town America.

There are also subplots about the way people are able to deal with the challenges life throws at you. His father becomes a motivational speaker after he is
...more
Dree
Aug 27, 2009 Dree rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-reads
Truly funny, not simply amusing. A coming-of-age book for adults. Haas has great insights and a great way with words--whether describing suburban California, marketing, enthusiasts, and family life (of vastly different families). A completely oddball topic, yet it works so well and he manages to say so much about life, relationships of all types, America today.

And the "PS" section at the back of my edition is one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. The "book club" questions made
...more
Erica
Apr 01, 2009 Erica added it
The Enthusiast is the story of a man who spends his career working at various enthusiast magazines, from Ice Climbing to Crochet Life to Wakeboarding Weekly, all while trying to figure out what it is he's really into/wants out of life. It's definitely a gem--funny and compelling, and really charming. I didn't love the ending (liked it, but not love), which is the only reason why I gave it four instead of five stars, but the writing is wonderful and it's definitely worth a read.
David
Jul 10, 2010 David rated it liked it
I dunno. This book was all right and I don't think I could point to anything particularly wrong with it, but it just didn't ever grab me. The story seemed pretty good and I liked the characters. I just never got that into it. Maybe I was just in an odd mood. I do have to say that some of the enthusiast stuff in the book seemed like window dressing. Beyond that, though, I guess I just have to say it didn't grab me. It was still a decent book, though.
Scotchneat
Oct 19, 2009 Scotchneat rated it liked it
Interesting premise - young man stumbles onto a writing gig about kite-driving, and ends up criss-crossing the country for every niche magazine you can think of--including knitting and tea. Anywhere there are enthusiasts.

Along the way, he makes and loses friends and family, learns about business and esoterica, and has observations about what makes life life.

Another good "first novel" finds.
Alison
Dec 06, 2014 Alison rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, adult, book-club
We meet Henry Bay as an idealistic kid who wants to become a public-interest lawyer because of his dad, who got laid off when his company's management took all the money and ran. Fun! But he gets to college and starts working for a public-interest lawyer and simply isn't happy, so he takes an offer to come work for Kite Buggy, a magazine he once wrote an article for.
read more...
Jo
Dec 04, 2012 Jo rated it did not like it
I found this book so grammatically troubling, I could not get beyond the second chapter... "Got to Clayton at midday, and stepped out into a world that felt I'd been born missing it.... The air off the river had twice the ply of what I'd grown up breathing." Huh? Had there been more meat to the story, I could have overlooked it. Overall, I found the story superficial and juvenile.
michelle
May 07, 2010 michelle added it
Shelves: books-i-own, 2010
adam savage raved about this book on twitter, so i bought it. henry, the narrator, has a series of jobs working at enthusiast magazines -- "crochet life," "kite buggy," rock climbing, wilderness exploring, etc etc. overall i think the book is just all right, but this enthusiast stuff is right up my alley. i mean, crazy people who are excited about things! yes, please.
Suzanne
Oct 30, 2009 Suzanne rated it liked it
Young man leaves cookie-cutter city in California to follow a career writing for enthusiast magazines like Kite Buggy and Crochet Today. I think the minor characters make this book better than average-wish he had developed them more. When I first started reading, I didn't know if it was 1950 or 2009. There is one mention of Sept. 11, so I figured it out. It has a timeless feel.
Al Macy
May 29, 2014 Al Macy rated it liked it
This guy writes really well. I was continually impressed with his images. Things like "When I knocked on the door, she opened it looking like I'd wakened her from a dream of falling."

After 20 pages I almost abandoned it, because it wasn't suspenseful enough for me. But I decided to continue, and enjoyed up until the last 10%, at which point it fizzled out.
John
Apr 23, 2012 John rated it really liked it
Charlie Hass wrote this witty novel about a writer who has a sort of migrant literary lifestyle, pursuing the small magazines that cater to offbeat interest in extreme sports to tea fanatics. A very smart book, with an ending that was not at all predictable. A fun read.
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