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

David Brooks

Book cover

I started reading this as a “TV book” (see my review of “The Happiness Project” also) while I was slogging through “Winter’s Tale.” I ended up really liking “Bobos” though.

Despite the fact that it is about 12 years old by now, the book still feels on point, and often painfully so for me–finding myself dead center in the sights of Brooks’s mild ridicule. There is a long section on REI, one of the few stores that I enjoy shopping at; there is also a long section on Montana, where I am going on my honeymoon. Yikes!

But I say “mild” ridicule advisedly. To me, this book shines in part because of Brooks’s refusal to take a normative stance. His general approach is to spend most of a chapter in critico-parodical mode, but then at the end, take a step back and say, but really, even if this seems kind of silly, isn’t it better in a lot of ways than what it replaced? I found it refreshing that Brooks didn’t feel the need to go beyond just analytical observation, to say, “therefore, XYZ.” This seems unusual in an era when many nonfiction books seem to either be about “Why Everything You Thought Was Bad Is Good” or “Why Everything You Thought Was Good Is Good.” This may be in part due to Brooks’s self-identification as a Bobo; though the same can’t be said for, e.g., self-identified elite Chris Hayes in “Twilight of the Elites.”

The other main feeling I had while reading the book was jealousy at all the cool midcentury sociology books David Brooks has read.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars