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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Review: The Book of Vice by Peter Sagal

I've been sitting on this for days and can't think of anything else to add, so I'm posting it. I need to find a book that I really love because it's hard to review a book that you feel ambivalent about.


Subtitled Very Naughty Things (and How to do Them), The Book of Vice is another entry in the non-fiction/social science/memoir-y category that is becoming so popular lately. Sagal, host of NPR's Wait, wait, Don't Tell Me explores 7 Vices including how and why people do them. Each chapter is devoted to a different vice- Swinging, eating, strip clubs, lying, gambling, consumption and pornography. Sagal claims that he is trying to figure out why people do the things they do- why do swingers swing, why does William Bennett gamble, why did Nina Hartley become a pron star?

The idea of the book is interesting and it is full of interesting facts and tidbits. There are examples of vice that are down right shocking (usually in a monetary way more than in an oh-my-goodness! way). There is some great analysis of some specific examples like Clinton's famous lie and why people who can't afford it buy luxury cars.

There's also an overabundance of Sagal's jokes which tend to get old by the end. At one point he even admits to using a bad analogy because it's a better joke.

Overall, I didn't learn enough to get anything out of it, I wasn't amused enough to recommend it as funny, but I did enjoy it. If I rated books, I've give it a 5 out of 10.

The Book of Vice by Peter Sagal
Harper Collins
252 pages



  1. I don't think this is something I would actually read, but it does sound interesting.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  2. I hate when the book is based on a great concept but its not executed in a way that captures your full attention.

    Thanks for an honest review, but I think I'll skip this one.

  3. Anna, it is interesting but it's not fascinating.

    Serena, if you saw it at the library you could pick it up. I wouldn't pay for it.

  4. Thanks for the review! I might have picked up just because I love Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Sounds like it might not be worth the trouble, though.

  5. I expect more from a book with this title. If a book about vice leaves you talking more about the bad jokes than thinking about the vice, it sounds like it misses the mark.


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