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Us: Americans Talk About Love

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  231 ratings  ·  47 reviews
From the wards of New Orleans to the cornfields of Iowa to the slopes of Colorado, from the raves of Los Angeles to the hollows of Appalachia and the canyons of Wall Street, Americans talk about love. Tortured teenagers, free-spirited octogenarians, anxious Navy wives, blue-blooded bohemians, horny-but-chaste pastors, and multiply-partnered cosmopolitans tell extraordinary ...more
ebook, 448 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Faber & Faber
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Kirsti
I didn't know that it's possible to get divorced entirely by email (at least in New York state). And I didn't know that the Khmer Rouge used to round up young people and marry them off to each other randomly, and anybody who complained about it got killed. I learned a lot from this book, which is an oral history that focuses on love, romance, dating, and heartbreak.

"He scooped out my heart like a cantaloupe." --Celia Menendez, age 17

"I never know what Nick is going to be thinking or reading or w
...more
Khris Sellin
Loved this book. It's a series of interviews with people living in the U.S., from all walks of life, talking about L-O-V-E. Some of them are sweet, some sad, heartbreaking, funny, cute, crazy, infuriating, amazing...

It starts off with a 5-year-old girl talking about her great love, Lukey, and how he disappointed her. "He lied to me. He said he could hold his breath for three days and three nights. And he really didn't do it. That's impossible."

Then there's the teenage girl who is hung up on th
...more
Rachel Rueckert
US Americans Talk About Love was a creative collection of the various stories, experiences, and philosophies of love from the perspective of those very (and should I say varied) people. Love, according to the editor, John Bowe, “is one of the universal goals we share. It is a true bastion of absolute freedom. No one can tell use whom to love or how to love. We may do whatever we like, arrive at any arrangement we deem satisfying. Imperfect, irreducible, inexpressible, amazing, pathetic, frustrat ...more
Ilya
I really like Bowe's Gig: Americans Talk about Their Jobs from 2000, which is a collection of short first-person interviews with over 100 Americans, from an Air Force general to a professional crime scene cleaner, about their jobs. This one has interviews with over 40 Americans, aged 5 to 86, about the most important love of their lives. Most people have prosaic love lives: they fall in love, marry, have children and raise them. Some have more unusual ones. A mother of three, an aerobics instruc ...more
Karen
So I originally intended to give this book 1 star. I got a third of the way through the book and couldn't read anymore. The authors of this book went around and interviewed a bunch of people to get stories that purportedly illustrated the concept of “love”. The first third dealt with new relationships and I found it extremely depressing. It was chock-full of seriously messed up people and their sad and pointless tales of self-destruction which was not at all what I was looking for.

However when I
...more
Ebony
Life kept getting in the way of me finishing this wonderful book. Once I finally finished, I was really sad that there weren't more versions of love from various people around the country. Almost immediately, I noticed myself judging folks, though. I felt bad about it like who am I to say that this is or isn't love, but then I realized that's the point of the book. We all have to find our own paths to love and our own strategies for recognition. Other people's stories are an easy way to decide w ...more
Jess
This was the result of years of research and hard work on the part of John Bowe and several others who interviewed men and women of various ages, ethnicities, religions, economic backgrounds, sexual preferences, and geographic locations about their relationships, loves, and/or marriages. The book is separated by the length of time the couple has been together. It was utterly fascinating to read and experience these different relationships through the eyes of all these different Americans.

Some w
...more
Patty
It has only been a few hours since I finished this book and as I look back, I wonder why I bothered. It was not a terrible book, but it wasn't worth as much time as I gave it. It is over 400 pages and I was in the middle of other books, so this did take me awhile to be done.

The premise is good. Ask people to tell you about the person they have loved the most and then listen. The interviewers got some interesting stories. I just felt like them managed to miss hearing ordinary stories.

Where are al
...more
Bethany
I'm going to stop thinking I can read nonfiction books that don't come with a "j" for "juvenile" in front of the Dewey numbers. I just can't finish them. I got about halfway through this book before I realized I was bored out of my mind. I mean, the premise sounds so awesome; it's a collection of monologues from ordinary folks about relationships they've been in. And if there's anything I enjoy, it's reading about other people's deeply personal thoughts and feelings, ESPECIALLY re: their failure ...more
Laura
Okay, so here's the thing: this was completely not what I expected it to be. I'm not sure exactly what I thought I would be reading, but I didn't expect I would be reading transcriptions of interviews about love. Having said that, there were some beautiful words that were said by the individuals whom John Bowe interviewed. Some were poignant, some were not. Though there were a wide variety of stories, the majority of the loves described were between heterosexual couples. I think there was room f ...more
K Dog
A collection of love stories or what the people who contributed to this book call love stories. The book is broken up into sections the beginning focus is on young relationships from one week to 1 year and then goes up to 60 plus years.

The stories of the young couples / relationships or people in loving relationships were not the happy mushy love stories that I was expecting. It is really eye opening to see what another persons version of love is. I was appalled at some of the stories in the ea
...more
Rachel McCready-Flora
When I first picked up Us: Americans Talk About Love at the library in July, I was skeptical. Most books about love aren't great. I have to admit, the only reason it went home with me was the blurb by Ira Glass on the back (host of This American Life, my very favorite radio show).

Us: Americans Talk About Love is a book of interviews from almost every demographic in the United States. The interviews are edited thoughtfully, and many of them are thought provoking. Some stories about love were sad
...more
Bex
I thought the first 2/3rds was awful. Depressing.

The book actually gave me insecurity nightmares featuring my husband taking on the roles of these horrible stories. I had problems sleeping for like 2 weeks- and it was because Iw as reading a story or two or three right before falling asleep.

What a mistake.

The end was the only thing that I enjoyed, but old people love stories is just that "pull on heart strings" sort of thing. I wish there were less extreme stories in here- include the extreme
...more
Dorie
US was a series of true stories of love from people of all ages, races and backgrounds across America. Each story seemed like it could have been a little vignette in a movie; some were hilarious, some were sad and others were outrageous. The book is long so it gets a little boring after a while and I found that many of the people in the book were Christians, abusive/abused, drug addicted or had cheated on their significant other. I wondered if the author hand picked these particular stories beca ...more
Willow
If anything, I ended up feeling more confused about this whole idea of "love." I guess it simply goes on to show that it's way too complex, although some stories prove just the opposite. For a subway read, it was definitely entertaining. The story that stuck out to me the most, was about the Mexican lady who simply wouldn't leave her bum of a man alone lol. I mean, her determination and endurance was really quite something. I didn't believe her when she said she doesn't love him any more, not on ...more
Julian
Real life accounts of romantic relationships, broken down into sections based on longevity, 3-5 years and all the way up to over 60 years together, with a little section at the end for multiple relationships. A married mother of three, realizes she's gay, a raver couple share a dope habit, a man loses his wife of 15 years during hurricane Katrina, a polyamorous couple explains jealousy, and a lonely barfly is content to die alone. Maybe this isn't the best review, but being a huge fan of non-fic ...more
Valerie
If you're looking for a warm, fuzzy read about love, this isn't it. It was difficult (sometimes outright impossible) to relate to any of the interviewees, and I found myself often wondering if this was truly an accurate cross-section of the population of the United States. There were an extraordinary number of stories involving drug-addicts and cheaters, and the ones that weren't either of those were religious fanatics (this is, of course, a bit hyperbolic) Some stories were nice, but too many o ...more
Irene
I abandoned this 5 or so stories in. Apart from the interesting story of the Khmer Rouge besieged couple, I could not find anything redeeming at all. I could not empathize or relate one bit. Or, perhaps I was put off by the teenager's rant, wherein, the word "like" was obnoxiously woven into the transcription of the interview (to remain authentic?). In any case, I was mildly annoyed by then and gave up entirely in the middle of the story about the Chicago wife who wants hot sex.
Diana
I helped conduct some of these interviews and during the process, which can also be taken by reading the book itself, I realized that throughout all of the states, cities, etc... the impact of love on a person's life is one-if not THE-most weighty factor in the span of our existence. Although you can see common threads within the stories of each individual, the way they speak and the way they are allowed to react to each scenario makes for a completely unique read.
Alex
A beautiful but sometimes hopeless account of human relationships and feeling. Some of these stories caused me to go completely numb and lose hope temporarily, before the next story would restore my faith in the power and possibility of love. Loneliness and death of a loved one has never seemed more real than in this book. I absolutely adore how real every last testimonial was, from the smitten and teenaged to the old, wise and still-dreamy.
Stephanie
It's not as good as Gig (by same editors), and I wouldn't describe what some of the interview subjects describe as "love." And frankly the youngest and oldest interviewees were a bit dull. But overall this is an absorbing collection of Studs Terkel-esque interviews. The variety of voices is amazing--novelists can only aspire to capture how people really speak. A good book to borrow from the library and pick up and put down.
Michelle
After 15 years of voraciously reading romance novels, this is the most interesting and important book I have ever read concerning love. It shows it in all its imperfect glory, in far more guises than I ever would have guessed. Humans are odd creatures, you can't deny that. But we can't help but connect with one another, no matter how we do it. This is a must-read, for everyone. Not just a book for chicks at all.
Phoebe
"US, America's Talk About Love" is a conversation with 44+ different people about their experience with romantic (and otherwise) love. It is a gem, a therapy, a craziness, a heartbreak, and a hoot. It's a little like NPR and a little like MTV. Possibly the most well-edited book of this type I've ever read -the editor's work is artful and quiet, you don't even know he's there. I highly recommend this book.
Brooxie
A series of stories/essays about people in love. It actually makes you feel better about you relationship! Most of the stories are kind of wierd and there were only about 3 that I thought looked appealin, but it lets you see what else is out there. I read this several months ago and all I can remember now are the disturbing stories!
Daniel R.
This book isn't about fairytale love. This book is about love being complex, crazy, heart-rending, and at the same time comforting, profound, and heartwarming. The stories reflect the melting pot that is America touching on generational, cultural, and ethical differences of what people consider and call love.
Mr. Steve
Lots of different first person interviews about love. I found the idea of it quite interesting, but only a handful appealed to me in any way. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I found many of the interviewees quite unlikable so I couldn't care less if they found love or not.
Alicia
I really really liked this book. The first person they interviewed was a five year old, and that was absolutely adorable. I was hooked after that. Fun, although sometimes depressing read.

Also, so many people cheat. At least, most of the people in this book did. How depressing.
Michael
A candid recounting of romantic relationships, which I found insightful. Their experiences range from deep and permanent, to drunken, drugged, and pathetic. The book is arranged by how long ago the love occurred, so the end is generally better than the beginning.
Lindsay
Very appropriate read before Valentine's day. As you read these stories, you find yourself comparing your relationships to the ones in the book. Sometimes you think yours is better and sometimes you find that you learn something from their story.
Paulette
Another startrib recommendation.

I had hoped this would be like The Eye of My Heart, grandmothers writing about being grandparents--some bitter, some funny, some sweet.
No so. Too much weirdness, drugs, selfishness, yuck.....
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John Bowe has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, GQ, The American Prospect, National Public Radios This American Life, McSweeneys, and others. He is the co-editor of Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs, one of Harvard Business Reviews best books of 2000, and co-screenwriter of the film Basquiat. In 2004, he received the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, the Sydney ...more
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