Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “What's Not to Love?: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer” as Want to Read:
What's Not to Love?: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,322 Ratings  ·  128 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
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 7th 2001 by Vintage (first published May 23rd 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about What's Not to Love?, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about What's Not to Love?

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Red Panda
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 03, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Megan Jones
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ;-)
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Maybe it’s reading this against the backdrop of all the bullshit that’s going on right now, but I really couldn’t stomach all the ogling of teenage tits and public exposure of testicles in these stories. That may have been funny 20 years ago, but now Ames and his friends just seem full-on perverted, not mildly, as the title indicates.
What's not to love er en utrolig humoristisk samling essay som dreier om Jonathan Ames' liv. Historier om skader, sykdom, kropp, sex, alkohol og litt mer sex fra et utrolig åpent og rått perspektiv. Alt blir så utrolig morsomt, men også varmt, på grunn av Ames evne til å fortelle ærlig og uten filter. Utrolig morsom som lydbok.
Jan 19, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Amber Cummings
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 23, 2011 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
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
Oct 09, 2011 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Writer's Relief
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
May 06, 2009 rated it liked it
I would have deleted "mildly" from the title of this short story collection and just called "The Adventures of a Perverted Young Writer." Ames's shtick gets tiresome--tales of inappropriate erections, strange sexual encounters--after a few stories. This is especially frustrating because he is so good at writing about life outside of sex or bowel movements, but a passage or two about being a young father or battling anxiety is quickly followed by one that is clearly intended to raise eyebrows.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: damnfun
I stole this from Matty because we just watched--and loved--season one of Jonathan Ames' HBO series, "Bored to Death."

This book is a collection of his columns. Ames is a bit more than "mildly perverted" on a Tia-scale:), and some of his exploits (or just thoughts!) had me cringing and/or gawking at the typed words before me. I actually can't believe he tells people these things! ...which is part of what is so great:).

I actually learned something from this, too. Ready? DON'T EVER GET CRABS. Do
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Self-deprecating humor at its finest. I think it was even funnier than the David Sedaris stuff I have read and loved. I highly recommend it! Found out Jonathan Ames did a tv show on HBO called Bored to Death. It's very funny as well. It's about a struggling writer who puts an ad on Craig's List that he is an unlicensed private detective. He gets in all kinds of crazy situations while solving crimes. Jason Schwartzman plays the writer and Zach Galifianakis and Ted Danson play his friends that wan ...more
Feb 13, 2012 added it
I am listening to this book read by the author.

So far, it is a collection of tales about himself. They are funny and sad. He's pretty good at finding the humorous in the awful...but at the end of the day, it just sounds like he's made a lot of mildly bad decisions...

Sick of seeing this on my "you are currently reading" list. It is not interesting enough and I'm never going to finish I put it in the "Read" category...
Rick Lenz
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Letters From People Who Hate Me
  • The Disappointment Artist
  • The Will to Whatevs: A Guide to Modern Life
  • Yokohama Threeway: And Other Small Shames
  • America Day by Day
  • The Book of Drugs: A Memoir
  • Meaty
  • Divorcer
  • McSweeney's #4
  • Little Wilson and Big God
  • The Subject Steve
  • Boy with Loaded Gun: A Memoir
  • I Was a Fat Drunk Catholic School Insomniac
  • What I Did On My Midlife Crisis Vacation
  • Legs Get Led Astray
  • The Tormented Mirror
  • The Music Room
  • Dahlia Season: Stories and a Novella
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
More about Jonathan Ames

Nonfiction Deals

  • Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany
    $15.99 $3.99
  • The Monster of Florence
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob
    $9.99 $1.99
  • April 1865 (P.S.)
    $11.74 $1.99
  • Jesus Is ______: Find a New Way to Be Human
    $7.99 $0.99
  • Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Lab 257
    $8.74 $1.99
  • How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Girl in the Woods: A Memoir
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Last Lecture
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
    $12.74 $1.99
  • Not Tonight, Honey: Wait 'Til I'm A Size 6
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology
    $12.99 $2.99
  • An Appetite For Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience
    $27.99 $2.99
  • Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Dakotas)
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Restless: Because You Were Made for More
    $7.49 $1.99
  • Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman
    $10.24 $1.99
  • The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions
    $16.99 $2.99
  • Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After
    $13.99 $3.99
  • Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Pukka: The Pup After Merle
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Buddhist Boot Camp
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Flour: A Baker's Collection of Spectacular Recipes
    $21.99 $3.99
  • The Longest Day: The Classic Epic of D-Day
    $12.99 $3.99
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Van Gogh
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Woman's Worth
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Do the Work
    $4.99 $1.49
  • The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century
    $4.99 $1.99
  • I Suck at Girls
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems
    $11.99 $3.99
  • The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Peace Is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy Lives
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now--As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It
    $7.24 $1.99
  • The World's Last Night: And Other Essays
    $7.99 $1.99
  • A. Lincoln
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Life
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society
    $13.24 $2.99
  • Grace, Not Perfection (with Bonus Content): Celebrating Simplicity, Embracing Joy
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Promise and the Dream: The Untold Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. And Robert F. Kennedy
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Through the Eyes of a Lion: Facing Impossible Pain, Finding Incredible Power
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Why We Run: A Natural History
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple
    $12.99 $2.99
“Insightful and heartbreaking, but also wonderfully comedic in its gutsy honesty. A beautiful and powerful memoir.” 6 likes
“I felt myself falling asleep; my eyes were closing, and then I thought, Maybe I should just kill myself. Suicidal thoughts always sneak up on me like that. But I don’t mind them. They’re like aspirin. They calm me down.” 2 likes
More quotes…