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Endangered Pleasures: In Defense of Naps, Bacon, Martinis, Profanity, and Other Indulgences
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Endangered Pleasures: In Defense of Naps, Bacon, Martinis, Profanity, and Other Indulgences

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  310 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Here is a refreshing look at life as it ought to be. Bare feet, gardening, dawdling over the newspaper, oversleeping, and idle summer vacations are infinitely more satisfying than counting fat grams, eating only vegetables, and sitting behind that desk every day. So toss out the guilt and rebel. Don't just stop and smell the flowers--call in sick and lie among them, prefer ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 20th 2000 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

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Rating details
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Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. I adore this book, and it is totally the book I would write, if I could, you know, write books. I've always recognized in myself a deep hedonistic streak, not so much in the "snorting coke off strippers at an orgy" image that that that word conjures up, but as far as seeking and appreciating pleasure from small everyday things--a fresh peach, an afternoon spent laying on a hammock reading, the smell of fresh cut grass--sensual experiences, in the non-sexual meaning of that word--and s ...more
Mike Lester
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fuck Dianetics. This is the book that will help me reach my true potential. 4 stars.
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor-satire
What a delight! At first I was put off by the somewhat haughty tone to her writing, but it quickly evolved into a wry and clever style that was perfectly suited to the lyric of the book. Each indulgence is covered in a short essay so you can read this in brief sittings without missing a beat. The treasure in this is the reminder that the seemingly "little" things in life - bare feet, working, clothes, weekends, happy hour - are true gifts if we are attentive to and relish in the nuances. Absolut ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: essay
The most interesting thing about this book is that is shows how nostalgia really works. Namely, it's thinking things were better 'before' no matter when that was. This book is from the 1990s, which the author viewed as unbearably busy and work-oriented. Ironically I look back on the 90s as a time of carefree glee, when people used to write essays about simple pleasures.

Still, Holland makes some excellent points about enjoying the little things in life, even if her sections on travel were writte
Jul 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
I'd been looking forward to this one for a while, but it was a let down. I thought Holland's tone was dull and even a bit condescending (though that may have been a point, I think the book had much more potential). Likewise, Holland suffers from Oldenburg disease: longing for something long gone and romanticizing the woman-in-the-kitchen trope.
Joyce McCombs
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Such a fun read - short essays on things we deny ourselves these days, like a good nap, bacon, bare feet, the morning paper and the second cup of coffee. An indulgence just to read!
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Endangered Pleasures, I will admit, has been the bathroom book for the past few months. As such it is a little warped by humidity, but Harpers hardly printed it on fine paper to begin with. The book's title and small chapters (1-4 pages, perfect for the bathroom) appealed, as did the author's choice of subjects from working to bed to books, but at first her sophistication overwhelmed the tone for me. She began as the seeming urban hipster, but by the end she had settled into rural and family li ...more
Jul 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice. It's not deep, it's not difficult, it's just... pleasant. The kind of book you want to have handy to peek into when you have a few moments to spare, and want to fill them happily.

Ms. Holland's list of pleasures is delightfully eclectic, ranging from bacon through whistling, undressing, Bad Words. Some of them are already your favorites and some will remind you of the little things in life that you cherish.

A sample quote that makes me smile whenever I encounter it:

"To my way of thinking, t
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Awaken your inner hedonist and allow yourself the indulgence of reading this book.


"As a reward for getting out of it in the morning, we're allowed to get back into bed at night; get gloriously horizontal again, after the vertical day spent carrying our bones around by ourselves."

Bare feet

"Bare feet are acceptable nowhere but on beaches, where we can't be expected to accomplish anything...Maybe the whole world secretly understands that free feet produce a different, more philosophical, relax
Jul 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Light and fun and a bit off the beaten path type reading but very much enjoyed these little treatises on fading pleasures, recently banished for the PC or the good health or the whatever reason. How could I resist when those items heading the title list were NAPS, BACON and MARTINIS (of which I have yet to sample my first -- it may NEVER happen to be honest -- what can I say? that's the way the cookies crumble). And then of course the tag along in the title -- profanity -- -- that one had had so ...more
Aug 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, nonfiction
Vintage Holland. Each compact piece, no more than a few pages in length, is a humorous defense of (mostly) things that are no longer considered good for us or non-PC, but there are essays on overlooked simple pleasures of everyday life as well, such as getting mail or walking barefoot. Barbara Holland has long been one of my favorite essayists, and here she's at the top of her form.

One of the most charming aspects of the book is that it plays devil's advocate, arguing both sides of seemingly co
Michael Armijo
Nov 02, 2010 rated it liked it
For those of you who are Pleasure Seekers...(like me). ;)

I was intrigued by the title of this book so I had to get it. I needed to learn about endangered pleasures that I may not be participating in. I was reminded of the pleasures of taking naps & sleeping 'totally' undressed (without constraints) & traveling & barefeet & natural things like birds singing. It was a nice book with some worthwhile lines & PLEASURES 'to live by'. I'm just happy to know that I've been living by
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is meant to be read in short bursts, a chapter or two a day. Holland has an amazing way with words, it's worth reading just for that. But it's also her grounded "look on the bright side" perspective that will add a little lift to the day and may make you rethink things like work, winter and even waking up early. A little at a time, though, otherwise it gets a bit tiring.

Overall, instead of feeling like a forced smile, she comes across as a knowing grin.
May 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I bought this for the title alone. Unfortunately, the contents didn't live up to my expectations. "In defense of..." led me to believe it would delve more deeply into why these pleasures are justified and how our American culture (mistakenly!) shuns them in the name of productivity. Instead of defending these lost pleasures, the author simply provides short essays about each and how things used to be.
Sep 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Barbara Holland just died. Look up her obit in the Washington Post for Sunday 19 Sep 2010. She was a true rowdy girl. She lived not far from me, and I met her once. Her book Bingo Night at the Firehall is about the way my Virginia county used to be. Most of her books, at least the later ones, are a big Remembrance of things past, and she was right about a lot of them, but her indulgences sure made life difficult for her. I'm sorry she's gone.
Sep 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
A series of essays detailing, one by one, all the things that grownups used to enjoy but have convinced themselves to let go of during the last decade or three. Until I read this book, the differences between how we live now and how we lived then never seemed so immense. I suppose it's because it's all happened so gradually. It's hard to imagine anyone reading this book and not feeling shame at what we've let ourselves be led into, and the price we've all paid.
Vicki Hughes
Sep 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a book I take off the shelf several times a year, for a nice leisurely thumbing. It's full of essays on the merits of going naked, the taking naps, and pretty mush all the stuff I love to do. I love the case she makes for the necessity of the occasional swear word. Barbara Holland and I could be friends, and you will probably think she'd make a great friend too, after reading this delightful book.
Lisa Lewis
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
I loved the idea of this book, which is a collection of short essays on things that bring fun and joy into life, but are in some cases underrated or even demonized. Unfortunately, it got a little boring... And, being published in 1995, it was a teensy bit dated in terms of the popular culture context she was describing. I laughed a few times, and I still like the message: have more fun in life. But I don't necessarily recommend it.
Jamie (ReadsInTrees) Dacyczyn
2016 Reading Challenge: a book of essays.

I picked this book up because I just finished the author's memoir and loved it. Alas, this one just didn't do it for me. I'm not a fan of essays or short stories in the first place, and I wasn't really blown away by the author's views on life's, I just found this book to be a bit lackluster for my taste. Those who enjoy short essays might like this book.
Aug 04, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a book of very interesting, but very short essays about different things that the American puritan society has dismissed as sinful. The topics range from simple breakfast coffee to going barefoot. Some of the things that she says are deemed unnecessary aren't in my life, but I guess it depends on your upbringing. An all right read.
Jan 09, 2009 rated it liked it
eh - I wanted this to be more than it was. It's little essays on different things that start out as pleasures, but they get thin by the end of the book. Sometimes she is just lecturing or bemoaning the state of affairs. I was bored at the end and only finished it because I could read it so quickly. I do like naps and bacon.
Jul 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jenny Bento
Shelves: non-fiction
Oh man, what a fun little book! I am a confirmed fan of the four vices mentioned in the title, and read it while indulging in another - a long, hot bath accompanied by a glass of wine. OK, I don't know if the former is considered a vice, but the latter probably is. I may have to give this a reread soon.
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
Irreverant, funny - She defends barefeet, sleeping in, unemployment, cussing someone out, gambling, etc. It was such a pleasure to read--so many good quotes inside. A nice short read that will put a smile on your face.
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
In an age when every bad habit is considered life threatening, or politically incorrect, Ms. holland had a refreshing attitude. I had read a few of her books, but I deliberately bought this one when it came out because I enjoy a realist...and she was.
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic apologia of the Epicurean lifestyle. I would have enjoyed it even more if I weren't reading it over the holidays, when I too was enjoying too much sleeping, too much eating, too much drinking.
Sep 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who like to read on the commode
Started out good and fun, but ultimately ended up feeling dated and sometimes even dipped a toe into being offensive (to me, anyway). Almost like towards the end she started casting about for subjects to have as chapter headings (cows? really?).
Sep 29, 2008 rated it liked it
I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book, but it didn't really deliver. The writing was conversational and at times charming, but I found it to be less an ode to joy than a rather sexist and at times colonialist lament on the passing of the good old days. Maybe it's just too dated for me.
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
Recommended to David by: A friend of my wife recommended it to her
Shelves: abandoned
My wife wanted to buy this book for a friend and we got a copy, too. I read it over my wife's shoulder on a plane trip and found it mildly amusing. But no more than that. It really seems aimed at women. So don't think I'll get back to this . . . ever.
Mar 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Yes! Thank you! Delightful writing on delightful topics that I intend to explore in more depth with each pasing week. This is my favorite post-divorce gift...but don't feel like you need to go to all that trouble if you just want to read it for fun.
Nov 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was just a bit dated, but there were some really thought provoking essays on the many pleasures in life that we as a society have come to deem as overindulgent or selfish. I specifically want to remember to enjoy breakfast, fourth of July, work, and hot baths.
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Barbara Murray Holland was an American author who wrote in defense of such modern-day vices as cursing, drinking, eating fatty food and smoking cigarettes, as well as a memoir of her time spent growing up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, near Washington, D.C.
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