Book Club: Assholes - A Theory

*Warning - this post contains PG-13 words. If you are sensitive to mildly offensive language, do not read.*

Pardon the disclaimer - I must admit I can be quite a potty-mouth once you get me going, though I tone it way down on the blog. It's funny because I used to not be like that until I started working in politics. I think I'm a pretty nice person but something about cursing just makes me laugh, but I digress. On to the book review. 

I mentioned this book several times on the blog this month because it was quite an interesting read for me. I don't usually gravitate towards books like this on my downtime - I generally prefer classic fiction literature. My good friend recommended this book when I was having a horrible day and I remember the title making me laugh. I'm sure everyone knows an asshole or two and though we know this person is a jerk and we tell ourselves that no one can make us feel terrible without our consent and all that, there's something about an asshole that has a way of getting to us.
Assholes - A Theory is a non-fiction guide by Aaron James, a philosophy professor at UC-Irvine. The book reads like a college dissertation as James breaks down the typical asshole. According to the author, an asshole is someone who:
allows himself to enjoy special advantages and does so systematically;
does this out of an entrenched sense of entitlement; and
is immunized by his sense of entitlement against the complaints of other people.
So in other words, the asshole is the guy who cuts in line at a restaurant because he feels he doesn't have to wait because he's *him.* When others call him out on it, he doesn't seem to care. I think we all know someone like that.
I think what I found most interesting about this book is how the author goes about trying to pinpoint the asshole, why he is the way he is, and what we, as a society, do to deal with him. To be honest, the book summary in the back kind of made it sound like it would be a lot of self-help (dealing with arrogant assholes who bother us) but he doesn't delve too much into the asshole at a personal level, but rather the asshole in a collective setting. There is a chapter in the book called "Asshole Capitalism" which is a term the author uses to describe how the asshole goes about getting what he wants. Capitalism, in theory, is supposed to foster good economic benefits for a society as a whole but sometimes assholes have a way of manipulating the system (or at least taking advantage of the system at a cost to others), thereby making the capitalist system weaker. James also points out how society essentially lets the asshole get away with his actions because we, in a sense, believe it when they make statements like, "I'm not an asshole, I'm just being an entrepreneur. I'm being savvy and I think being sensitive to others' needs is useless. I get results!"

All in all, this was an interesting read. I wouldn't say it's something I would go back and reread but I'm glad I read it. I would recommend this book for someone who is looking for something amusing - a lot of intelligent philosophical and economic talk in a humorous setting. If that's your cup of tea, go for it. If not, maybe skip this book. 


  1. Girrrrrrrl, I think we are meant to be buddies, because I am a total potty mouth, too! Haha. :)


  2. Hello dear Deborah, thanks for this tip, as I love it to read amusing books! And I think the time is ripe to read another English book because mostly I prefer the easy solution and read my books in German :)

    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  3. Not sure if I'd love, but I think it would be kind of nice to read :p

  4. As soon as I saw the title I got really excited: "Deborah's going to really let it go and curse today!" I too, struggle with a potty mouth (but now that I'm around my little sister, I really have to tone it down).


    Another Beautiful Thing

  5. Nice!


  6. I think I'll skip this book: when you first introduced it, I was expecting a self-help manual, zen if you know what I mean. On the other hand I love funny philosophing books :-)
    Coco et La vie en rose / Bloglovin / Facebook

  7. I would definitely love to read this book as I have to encounter assholes practically every day! Working in retail definitely provides a lot of assholes on daily basis. :D
    I have grown a pretty thick skin over the past 1.5 years I have been working at H&M, but sometimes there is that extra big asshole that can throw me off my balance and sometimes even ruin the day!

  8. just the title alone is sure interesting. There are so many assholes out there and really can throw me out of balance sometimes but I am a potty mouth myself on occasional would curse. I am a hopeless romantic and love to read romance. Embarrassed, but it's true.


  9. i guess i will skip it then. a bit too "intellectual" for me. i read to unwind, thus i just want something light and easy like chiclit. LOL.


  10. Lol I find something funny in cursing too! Idk what it is. Hmmm, this book sounds interesting, but I'm not so good at the whole pondering philosophy bit. Thanks for the review though!


  11. Not sure it would be my cup of tea but its sounds like it has some interesting parts!

    Krissie x -

  12. Hmm, that's an interesting book... I should definitely give it a shot! There are always people that I must deal with in life who act like that.. should be helpful in the future, heh!

    Chic Nikkie

  13. This sounds really interesting, and I've been trying to read more lately so this is definitely going on to my reading list!

    Yige || Yet Another Makeup Blog.

  14. have never heard of this book! potty mouth here too

  15. UCI zot zot, I need to pick it up now. And sorry for the super late reply, but for the most part everything from china takes about 2-3 weeks to get to me (california). but banggood is pretty good with having items instock and shipping them out to you without a long processing time.

  16. This sounds like such an interesting read. I'll have to check it out. It certainly looks entertaining!


Thank you for your comments! I read every single one :]