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Jonathan Ames
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What's Not to Love?: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,166 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
Perhaps all of Jonathan Ames’ problems–and the genesis of this hilarious book–can be traced back to the late onset of his puberty. After all it can’t be easy to be sixteen with a hairless “undistinguishable from that of a five year old’s.”

This wonderfully entertaining memoir is a touching and humorous look at life in New York City. But this is life for an author who can pr
Kindle Edition, 290 pages
Published (first published May 23rd 2000)
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Dec 20, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 19, 2011 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What, indeed? I suppose i'll never know what I would've thought of Jonathan Ames' writing without first seeing his fiction and fictional self in TV's "Bored to Death." This book is madcap, graphic, onanistic in a variety of ways. Luckily, through the glare of all that (and the lens of knowing that however down/dirty his life was, he almost certainly is worrying less now about moving back in with his parents with three seasons of a hit show under his belt), it's his writing that wins out. Deliber ...more
Feb 03, 2011 Kirstie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rory because Ames is from NJ and you'd get a kick out of him.
I think one of the real unfortunate advantages of Jonathan Ames is that he recycles alot of his stories. I was really fascinated after Bored to Death season one (still anxiously awaiting season two to become available on Netflix grr...) In any case, Ames is funny and remarkably honest but between his books and the HBO series, I'm not sure fans really need to read a ton of his novels to get about 90% of his life experiences. These stories do tell as much about NJ and NY as they do the inner chara ...more
Feb 12, 2014 Arlo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These first appeared serialized weekly in the New York Press. I decided to break off one or two a day and it served me well.
The usual Ames subject matter is here, drug use, literature, his blurred sexual identity, and his relationship with his parents, etc.
Megan Jones
From the first few pages I was in love!!! His brutal honesty combined with his talent for writing makes for a fantastic, at times titilating, edgy, read!!! Having lived in Manhattan, I can relate to the setting of most of these stories. And being an aspiring writer, a broke teacher, searching for myself through my career, I can definitely sympathize with this author and it makes me feel a bit less sorry for myself ;-)
Amber Cummings
Aug 14, 2014 Amber Cummings rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny self-deprecating short stories are definitely something I enjoy (diehard Augusten Burroughs fan here)so I feel like I've read enough of this genre to have an opinion here. Let's start with the fact that I love that the book has a theme. I hate when short stories feel discombobulated and there's no string to tie things together for me mentally. The quality of the writing was great. Really the thing to discuss is the content here:

For me some of the stories were TOO perverted. And he didn't
Marcella Wigg
Jonathan Ames is the kind of frank fuckup whose honesty about his issues first fascinates you, and then, when you know him better and realize how true his stories are, repulses you. In text, his messiness is very entertaining and seems endearingly sincere: his penis fixation and penchant for transgender prostitutes make for some interesting stories. Overall though I found the collection uneven: while some stories (like the ones about his late puberty, his first real love, and trying crack) were ...more
Jul 25, 2012 Supineny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
hm...well, i got it because i loved one of his performances on The Moth (the one where he winds up doing crack in a Bowery flop hotel with a transsexual on Christmas). It was shocking and tender. He's kind of a wreck, but an interesting wreck who is surprisingly alert to kindness and intimacy.

Last night I read a bunch of the stories in this compilation of short auto-biographical pieces. They were along similar lines, and the best of it delivers similar pleasures. His troubled adolescence during
Sep 28, 2011 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Jonathan Ames. I love so much of what he does; "The Alcoholic" was pure genius, and his TV series "Bored to Death" is among my top three or four shows on television at the moment. So when my roommate handed me his copy of this book, I couldn't wait to start it.

After finishing it in a few short days, one phrase sums the whole book up: Jonathan Ames is one weird cat.

I don't want you to think that I didn't like the book. I absolutely did. However, it really does read like an ongoing journal
Apr 20, 2013 Chloe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Being a lover of The Extra Man, I expected to find this book to be an enjoyable romp through Ames' writerly and (mostly odd) erotic world. I was disappointed. The first few stories were entertaining, but as I read on the stories soon turned to repetitive mush. I can handle a hefty share of raunch, but to me Ames' style didn't portray it appealingly. I know that many of his anecdotes aren't meant to be appealing (crabs, crack, manginas, etc.), but the least he could aim for was to make these anti ...more
May 05, 2012 Victoria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Humbert-Humbert types with receding hairlines
In a weird way Ames reminds me of Handler's book My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands, except somehow less funny. I'm not sure if its because I can relate to 'beavers' more than scrotums, but Ames didn't win me over like Handler did. His tales, while brutally honest, are sometimes perhaps too honest; I didn't really want to hear about his sexual thoughts towards underage girls, or the time his great aunt made him ejaculate in his pants, but my stubborn policy of always finishing ...more
Jan 29, 2010 Isaac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just learned about Jonathan Ames and got into a few of his books at the same time. This one and the graphic novel 'The Alcoholic' were my favorites. 'What's not to love' is a collection of autobiographical pieces Ames wrote for New York Free Press. He writes with a lot of charm and humor about things that most people would be incredibly reluctant to admit they had ever done. A while back I was reading an essay by Seymour Krim about writing and it's ability to connect with people in a media sat ...more
Nov 28, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: much-loved-bios
i love jonathan ames. i love everything he's written. i think he's really smart and really funny. i can't help but compare him to david sedaris who i also think is really funny but with sedaris he can get a little cloying for my taste. like his narrative voice is so carefully honed to this very specific blend of wry wit and hyperbolic humour. with ames he's not quite as rehearsed sounding; in this book and a couple others he comes off as a completely guileless fuckup who means well but is basica ...more
Jan 27, 2010 Adele rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
THIS is the book Neil Strauss wishes he wrote. While still raunchy, womanizing and anecdotal, the difference here is Ames can actually write. Plus, his self-deprecation is believable and endears him to the reader.

What's Not to Love? is a series of short stories chronicling Ames' life through the late eighties and early nineties at Princeton and in NYC. I think boys (ie, my boyfriend) are probably more inclined to like chapters like "I shit my pants in the South of France" but on the whole, Ames
Jonna Rubin
This would have one star, if not for the final few essays -- the final one in particular was actually quite moving, and went in the direction I hoped the book would go a long time ago: He finally begins to actually want to fix himself. But it's too little, too late.

I could see how these would be entertaining as a column, but as a memoir, this doesn't work. First of all, Ames' schtick does indeed get very old. We get it. You're perverted. You get off on men and women, but only kind of with men.
Writer's Relief
May 14, 2012 Writer's Relief rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t want to say it, but this could possibly be the best time I’ve had with a memoir. Ames is definitely of our time, and reading this now that I’m familiar with the NJ/NYC area is even more hysterical and endearing. Each chapter is a moment of his life, either about his sexual philosophies, his love and/or personal life, or about struggling to make it as a writer. It’s unabashedly honest; and even though the vignettes seem out there, I don’t doubt for a minute that they aren’t true.

I think t
Rick Lenz
Sep 20, 2015 Rick Lenz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoy reading the mind wanderings and stories of one person's life minutiae, "What's Not to Love?" and for that matter anything by Aames, will be right up your street. He puts on paper what most people would only whisper to their psychotherapist. Occasionally, you'll find you almost nervously look away, but mostly his stories swing back and forth from touching and poignant to laugh-out-loud funny. I think I've read all of his books and look forward to the next one.
Sep 09, 2013 Sohni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 05, 2014 Kara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't have many positive things to say about this book. The writing itself is stilted, there was little in the way of outrageous stories contrary to what the book cover promised, and I didn't laugh once. I thought it'd be interesting to read a book by such a strange guy (a self-described pervert with an Oedipal complex), but I was bored throughout the whole thing and really had to push myself to finish it. Nothing was interesting, let alone entertaining.
Jan 03, 2012 Molly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
(I'd like to give this 3.5 stars, but since Goodreads is forcing my hand here, I'll go with 4. Just know that I'd rather give this 3.5.)

I became curious about Jonathan Ames over the last few seasons of Bored to Death (RIP). I figured he must be a pretty weird, funny guy to come up with the antics on that show. I then came across an essay he'd written in the New York Times a week or two ago and decided to give one of his books a try.

There's nothing as G-rated in this book as that NYT essay, but
Joshua Jameson
I consider myself to be a pretty sexual person but thought it was a little much to write a whole book about his perversions.

I thought it ironic the writer continues to refer to himself as a writer yet his sentences were all very short and lacked description in areas which would have made the stores more interesting and readable. It reminds me of having a conversation with a friend who has ADD.
May 16, 2008 Marumaru rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
jonathan ames, he's the man.. he's the the george plimpton of the colon (as he claimed himself).. the master of the art of self-mockery.. the pain in my impotent knowledge of life.. he's the sex!! he knows it all!! sickening puberty, masturbation, homosexuality, cracks, hot momma, porn, herpes, baldness.. it's an unforgettable journey into one 'perverted' man's life..

what i learned from this book:
jonathan ames is the lord of genitals

if i was one of the character i would be:
the Mangina model

Aug 28, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The topics in this book are in turn touching, funny, repulsive, and outrageous. I truly wanted to be horrified by the perversion, but I found it too funny and odd. The book is skillfully written. Mr. Ames balances between quizzical amusement of his quirks and admitting he truly is a bit of a freak. I kept thinking about who I could pass this book to when I'm finished, and the list is pretty small. Some people wouldn't appreciate it, a few would be morally outraged, so it limited the list signifi ...more
Feb 05, 2009 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
a friend lent this to me. its really good. reminiscent (sp?) of paul neilan, for those who liked apathy.
i was so impressed, i spilt a coffee on this borrowed book. so i guess i own it now...

I am in LOVE with Jonathan Ames...


normally, when i find an author i am in LOVE with, i get sad at the end of each book/story. thinking "was the ending kind of lame, or did i just not want it to end, therefore any ending is lame."
but for some reason, jonathan am
Sep 29, 2014 Hannah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan Ames is kind of a prick, and yet he has just enough charm to keep me bemused, if not entertained. He's a decent storyteller, but (at least in this book) not a great writer- the structure of his essays left a lot to be desired, particularly the endings.
Jan 07, 2016 Brad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan Ames is amazing. This collection of experiences during is life travel at a brisk pace by his brilliant voice, no matter how disturbing they can be to the reader.
Jul 09, 2009 Alexis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I was at a party when a friend of a friend started talking about Jonathan Ames. I was intrigued, so I ordered this book from the library. And I found that I love Jonathan Ames, but I would not recommend his work to everyone. He's really perverse. He likes to write about his strange sexual habits. He's self-deprecating and bizarre and slightly neurotic, but really funny. This collection of essays talks about his life and sexual exploits. It evokes some of the grossness and sexual libertarianism o ...more
Catie Monks
Not my kind of humor. Book was recommended by an article on why I should laugh more. I can think of funnier stories than one about a colonic and other such savory topics.
Jun 04, 2014 Luke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely hilarious, no other book has ever made me laugh as much as this.
Mar 30, 2011 Mei rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
NOT FOR EVERYONE. For those who can tolerate perversion, Jonathan Ames is for you. Aside from his dipsomania, attraction to transgender ladies, and general TMI style, he's an excellent writer who gives subjects that could be annoying with an unexpected sweetness and comedy. One of my favorite writers. Hard to tell people about him, because of stories like "Enemas: A Love Story," and "I Sh** My Pants in the South of France." I'm happy that Ames had success with his HBO show, Bored to Death, the 3 ...more
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Jonathan Ames is the author of the books The Double Life is Twice As Good, I Pass Like Night, The Extra Man, What's Not to Love?, My Less Than Secret Life, Wake Up, Sir!, I Love You More Than You Know, and The Alcoholic (a graphic novel illustrated by Dean Haspiel). He is the editor of Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs.

He is the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a f
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“Insightful and heartbreaking, but also wonderfully comedic in its gutsy honesty. A beautiful and powerful memoir.” 6 likes
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