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Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There
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Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  2,806 ratings  ·  319 reviews
Do you believe that spending $15,000 on a media center is vulgar, but that spending $15,000 on a slate shower stall is a sign that you are at one with the Zenlike rhythms of nature? Do you work for one of those visionary software companies where people come to work wearing hiking boots and glacier glasses, as if a wall of ice were about to come sliding through the parking ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 6th 2001 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jason
David Brooks is, for lack of a better term, David Brooks. He has two schticks. First is conservative politics presented in a manner palatable to the readership of The New York Times and the viewers of the PBS News Hour. Second is pop anthropological commentary on perceived cultural phenomena. Bobos in Paradise falls into the latter category. "Bobo", a long common term in French of identical meaning, is hipspeak for bourgeois bohemian -- liberals with $$$ and status. The problem, however, is that ...more
Katie
I came back to review this book because my friend and I were talking about it at work the other day. The book IS funny, but I disagree with Brooks’ summary and endnote that this new “Bourgeois Bohemian” establishment is somehow any better than the upper/middle classes of previous generations. Okay, so they buy sustainably made bamboo furniture. This doesn’t make them any better than the elites of other generations—in fact, I would argue that it makes them worse. Whereas the previous generation m ...more
Liz Wright
I don’t think it’s possible for me to write down everything I think about this book into one review. I think the review would end up being as long as the book. I will try to hit the main points of my impressions without going on for too long though.
My first thought is that Brooks’ description of bobo (bohemian and bourgeoisie) culture and behavior is highly entertaining and right on target. I’ve known many people like this (and would myself be classified as a bobo) and can see them and myself i
...more
leighcia
Though it’s not necessary to read the whole book, the introduction and opening chapters provide a good characterization of my generation and my social class. Brooks describes today’s new upper class—the Bobos—Bourgeois Bohemians. While earlier in the 20th century and before, the bourgeois and bohemians existed in separate social and economic circles (the bourgeois dominating with “old money” and all the financial resources, the bohemian artists gathering in their coffeeshops and run-down neighbo ...more
Vincent
Really there is no better observer of American culture right now than David Brooks. He is so damn critical of our collective lameness and this book is well worth it.
It had been on my to-read list for a while: there are many pop culture references to "bobos" and I wanted to know more about the definition.
Bobos are a combination of overly-paid upper middle class elitists who like to act like they are crunchy and down to earth and anything but elite.
What makes it funny is the inconsistency of that
...more
Izlinda
I'm stuck between a 3.5 and a four for this, but decided to round down. (Bad math, I know.)

Put into context, this is a required reading for my Introduction to Sociology course. While I'm glad not to read a textbook full of stodgy statistics and all, this book started to get on my nerves near the end.

Brooks is an editor/writer for several papers, I believe (at least at the time of printing) so his book does generally read like a collection of articles instead of a continuous book. His tone is ind
...more
Beth
Basically? OH SHUT UP, David Brooks. I wanted it to be good. In fact, it was a rather smug field guide; nothing revelatory, no meaningful/mature analysis. You might as well re-read The Official Preppie Handbook.
Mark
I read Bobos in Paradise because I like David Brooks' columns and I really enjoyed "The Social Animal."

The title is a nod to what Brooks describes as the merging (or rather reconciliation) of Bourgeois with Bohemian cultural values and ways of living and how this reconciliation has transformed middle class culture within the U.S. In fact, he invents the word "Bobos" to label this new educated class of people who embrace key components of both cultural forces that seemed irreconcilable not so lo
...more
Emilia P
My feelings on this book are mixed, though I think I maintain my affection for David Brooks. He explores the culture of bourgeois bohemianism and it's implications for our society in terms of things like business, intellectual culture, play, politics, and spiritual life. I do, in many ways, feel like a product of the society where intellect is a marketable, capitalism is about choice and social consciousness and creativity (on the surface at least), and questioning authority is mandatory. I gues ...more
Justine
Brooks' work of "comic sociology" is essentially a grown-up, much better researched version of my favorite blog "Stuff White People Like." Unlike the blog, it uses a loose historical basis that is semi-rigorously researched and has a general theory that it espouses. Like the blog, it is hilarious.

Brooks himself is a bobo (read, bourgeois bohemian, or the new class of privilege that got here by working hard and being smart rather than being entitled (such as the old WASPS)) so by the golden rule
...more
Michael
My harsh critique (and this book doesn’t deserve harsh; it’s good, fun, and interesting) is that this is an Atlantic or New Yorker or Vanity Fair article that was expanded into a book. When I got to the end and read the acknowledgements, it turns out I was right. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it. However, his unifying theme is really not supported by what he writes about.

Regardless, the parts are still very fun and well written. The individual chapters make internally logical sense but I don’t se
...more
Alex
Jan 29, 2014 Alex rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the year 2000
Shelves: 2014
There's a half-decent New Yorker article in here...and then pages upon pages of padding. The chapter on "Intellectual Life" is nothing more than a procession of easy jokes about talking heads; "Spiritual Life" contains no mention, bizarrely, of the concept of atheism; and "Politics" reminds one painfully that this book was written at the tail end of Clinton's administration, before GW Bush ended the concept of everyone getting along. If you like jokes about Restoration Hardware, by all means, re ...more
Alex
A perfect read for a cross-country flight, "Bobos in Paradise" is a very Tom Wolfian analysis of today's elite and its incessant struggle to reconcile ambitions of the bourgeoisie and artistic tendencies of the bohemia. Brooks shows how starting in the late 50s the US transition from aristocracy to meritocracy brought about a new 'class' - Bobos who seem to be living in a state of constant cognitive dissonance nicely manifested in their consumption patterns, intellectual life, politics, business ...more
Rj
Just finished David Brooks' Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How they Got There (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000). Brooks, a self-identified bobo acting as an anthropologist and sociologist with a sense of humour tries to define the new educated class that he calls BoBos. "The member of the new information age elite are bourgeois bohemian. Or, to take the first two letters of each word, they are Bobos." (11) The term is a combination of two terms and groups that traditionally hav ...more
Blyden
The central thesis is that a new "class" exist in the US that is a synthesis of the old BOurgeois (establishment) and BOhemian (anti-establishment) "classes" (Bo+Bo=Bobo) and that this new, relatively small class is THE class that sets the societal rules & values defining contemporary US culture. Their ascent is attributed to the importance of highly educated persons in the modern economy. Brooks looks at the patterns of consumption (e.g. "the creation of Latte Towns"), the business culture ...more
James
David Brooks is a fine writer. I have always enjoyed his articles in the Weekly Standard, the Atlantic Monthly, and currently his column in the New York Times. He is a whimsical observer of American life. His writing has an inductive quality about it. He writes about slate shower stalls, cappuccino bars, eco-tourism, and the like. Pretty soon he has painted a landscape of American cultural trends. In the introduction of "Bobos in Paradise," Brooks describes his method: "The idea is to get at the ...more
Jackie
I can't help it; I love myself some David Brooks, and this book is no exception. Bobos in Paradise was written a decade ago, so some of the trends Brooks notes here have long since ceased being trends and are firmly established in the mainstream, but no matter -- it's still a fun, breezy read.

I haven't read this in a few years, but I still remember the opening descriptions of the New York Times wedding announcements -- pages that profile the glittery overachievers who attended the right schools
...more
Patrick
Brooks can be funny and he does know how to turn a phrase, but ultimately he's writing about something that had a shelf life of no longer than eight years; I don't think his generalizations about Volvo-driving latte-sippers hold up very well. Of course, it's tough to write about the class of which you're part (and Tom Wolfe, Brooks isn't).

The other handicap that this amusing book suffers from is that its dominant note is one of millennial complacency. Events since 2000 have torpedoed that minds
...more
Kate
Jun 30, 2010 Kate marked it as to-read
I haven't even bought this book yet, and I already have 2 issues with it:
1. Though the subtitle says "Upper Class" the people he's describing are clearly Upper-Middle Class. From the Amazon review: "...driving their immaculate SUVs to Pottery Barn to shop for $48 titanium spatulas." Upper class people have drivers, don't shop at Pottery Barn, and let their domestic staff buy the spatulas.
2. From the back cover (as seen on Amazon): "... David Brooks coins a new word, Bobo, to describe today's up
...more
Joel
Brooks seems to be writing an autobiographical account of himself and his peers. His book gives us a glimpse into the latitudinarian attitudes of the middle and upper classes in America, along with their somewhat ridiculous commitment to being "authentic." The book is a bit dated now as it was written before 9/11, the cancerous growth of the Security State and the mortgage-driven economic collapse of 2008. Nevertheless, the social mores he describes mostly hold steady today: fear of commitment, ...more
Taylor Franks
Oct 24, 2007 Taylor Franks rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bobo's
The thesis of this book is that the clashing cultures of the 1960's Bourgoise and the Bohemian and have melded into the BOBO. CEO's now quote Jack Kerouac and listen to Grateful Dead. The chapter that everyone I know should read is about Sprituality. The author who is Jewish lays down with precise detail what is going on in most of the middle/upper class America. Life is a journey and no one really has a claim on truth and rather than being satisfied it leaves the person longing for something of ...more
Imam
great book, meskipun buku ini kurang lebih menceritakan tentang keadaan di Amerika di sekitar awal tahun 2000-an, namun saya melihat bahwa fenomena Bobo (Borjuis Bohemian), masih sangat relevan dengan keadaan Indonesia saat ini atau lebih spesifik Jakarta, Bandung dan Yogyakarta.
yang membuat saya lebih jatuh cinta lagi terhadap buku ini adalah gaya bahasa sarkasme penulis (David Brooks) yang menghiasai hampir seluruh buku ini. sangat recomended, terutama yang tertarik pada Pop Culture, tren ter
...more
Kevin
I liked this a lot. Great writing and original insights. It was written in 2000 so some of the observations seem obvious now but they are still apt.
Alicia Duff
The word bobo, Brooks' most famously coined term, is an abbreviated form of the words bourgeois and bohemian, suggesting a fusion of two distinct social classes (the counter-cultural, hedonistic and artistic bohemian, and the white collar, capitalist bourgeois).

Bobos have transformed our business world, and brought their counter-cultural mental framework with them. Bobos even manage to dominate the philosophy that prevails today in corporate America. It is very common to hear, “think outside the
...more
Clark
This book is so culturally relevant it's really hard for me to believe that it was actually written in 2000. Brooks absolutely nails the ethos of what he calls Bobos -- members of the educated class who fuse Bourgeois values and Bohemian tastes in their daily lives. Bobos endorse capitalism, but prefer more nuanced variants (like John Mackey's Conscious Capitalism) to unfettered markets. They value hard work and aspire to traditional careers, but only at jobs they consider self-actualizing. They ...more
Alex Feinberg
A pleasant read, but too full of cliches to be meaningful. A great deal of unverifiable conclusions coupled with an overall feel that I am reading a hard-copy of http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/. This is a shame, as the topic deserves an accessible, but more serious and academic study.
Derek
Does anyone remember A Field Guide to the Urban Hipster? David Brooks' Bobos in Paradise reads like a more thorough, more damning, more important version of that fairly disposable lark: an entertaining and pretty spot-on description of people who are now making the bulk of the decisions (and money) in American society today.

What was most interesting here was how the book remains relevant even a decade past its date of publication, no small feat for a sociological romp such as this. These people,
...more
Sheri
As an armchair overview of how the 50's bourgeois and the 60's bohemians mashed-up to create our current social culture (at least as of 2000, when this book was published)-this book was extremely educational. And entertaining. Quite a bit of it is still spot on a decade & a half later. I would not have even picked up something more inclusive so this book was just the right amount of information for those of us who are not planning on taking up social science as a serious pursuit of study.
Fa
...more
Jonathan Christ
Although already over a decade old, Brooks' description of the modern upper middle class still holds true. You may find that it's your own behavior the author is discussing, but it's hard to take this book as criticism. Think of it as self- exploration. You're into that, right?
Sara Van Dyck

I’ve been in Eugene almost four years now and am so grateful to Brooks for explaining to me what it means to live in a latte city. REI, vineyard tours, jeans at all events, save-the-bees, gardens in people’s front yards (that was hard for me to get used to), Whole-Paycheck markets: it all fits. Such a witty book, and all still true.

And then there’s the last chapter, on politics. The book came out in 2000, and I smile today to read Brooks’s optimistic description of the new political world to com
...more
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David Brooks is a political and cultural commentator. He is currently a columnist for The New York Times and a commentator on PBS NewsHour. He has previously worked for Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, Newsweek, The Atlantic Monthly and National Public Radio.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
More about David Brooks...
The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement The Road to Character On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense The Paradise Suite: Bobos in Paradise and On Paradise Drive Backward and Upward: The New Conservative Writing

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“Self-actualization is what educated existence is all about. For members of the educated class, life is one long graduate school. When they die, God meets them at the gates of heaven, totes up how many fields of self-expression they have mastered, and then hands them a divine diploma and lets them in.” 18 likes
“To get the most attention, the essay should be wrong. Logical essays are read and understood. But an illogical or wrong essay will prompt dozens of other writers to rise and respond, thus giving the author mounds of publicity.” 3 likes
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