I was looking for other audiobooks when I stumbled across this book. And it was the perfect timing too since I’ve recently finished ‘Modern Romance’ by Aziz Ansari (my review here) and I was looking for a similar tasting book to that. This Neil Strauss’ book is slightly different but did thread along the science and art of attracting women, a topic which I find is compelling enough.
1-Sentence Summary. True story of a nerdy journalist, Neil Strauss who went and immersed himself into the cult community of pickup artists and became akin to the ‘God of the Flirts’ in scoring with countless of women in bars and clubs.
Why I Picked it Up. The art and science of seduction and attraction have always been a curious thing to me. So why wouldn’t I pick up the story of a guy who went and completely transformed himself after learning what women’s dream guys are like?
Why It’s A Gem
- INSIGHT INTO THE CULT COMMUNITY OF PICKUP ARTISTS. This community isn’t the most common community you’ll hear about. Grown men who kept doing ‘site visits’ and continue perfecting their skills of picking up women, before sharing it up on the nets of their results and best practices etc. But of course, if you go deeper into the community, you see that the cult functions much, much more complex than just ‘sharing tips and tricks’. There are hierarchies to climb, philosophies to champion, and new lifestyles to pioneer. It gives an amazing look at how far communities can flourish when a group of people just needs to secure their sense of belonging to a family.
- THE FLIRTING STRATEGIES READ LIKE A PLAYBOOK. Despite being a book that was written decades ago, most of the tips are still relevant till today. As I was listening to the audiobook, sometimes I feel the urge to park at the side and take notes, since I have no other way of marking my favourite parts in audiobooks. The kind of things that was taught by Neil Strauss’ mentor is not just about ‘the best pickup line to hit a girl with’, they even went as far to classify the different types of people around (much like how you classify animals in to different species), giving legit definitions to phenomenons, explaining the science behind why some pickup strategies worked and even what to do if the girl already has a boyfriend. But believe it or not, these flirting strategies are only a small part of the book, probably only about a quarter of it as this book later on evolved into something else beyond just seduction tips.
- GOOD BALANCE OF THE BLESSINGS AND HARMS OF THE PICKUP ARTISTS. It could have been so easy for the author to just glamourize the pickup artist life and bang on that angle to feed his image and status. Instead, about half of his book is about the breakdowns and damage that came with that lifestyle. Thus, we’re being told of a more realistic story that covers the ups and downs of things. In fact, I think all of his characters (including himself) suffered in the end, with the exception of just 1 guy who might have worked things out for the better by mostly being an observer and loner for most of the time.
Why It Can Be A Rock
- THE ENDING WAS NOT PROPERLY FLESHED OUT. The book ended with an abrupt stop. Yes, abrupt stop, not even much of a conclusion. It felt like there should have been more materials up for the ending, as the earlier stories had so much materials stocked on them, while the ending was just a blur that whizzed by. If you find yourself feeling quite suffocated by the meager conclusion, searched up the net after you’re done reading. You’ll find plenty of materials on the aftermath of these group of people.
As A Reading Panda, I’d Give It :
(6.5 out of my 10 bamboos)
Although it has an interesting angle, it is not the most engaging piece of writing or the most fascinating cult community to read about. Nevertheless, it still accomplishes in giving us a glimpse into how a different set of people live their ‘glamorous’ life and how easily you can get distracted from starting with, “I just want to learn how to talk to girls” to the infinite numbers game of, “How many phone numbers and sex I can get with my skills”.
One of my favourite disruptive thinking in the book was how the author acknowledges that all these pickup artists are just closeted geeks. And that’s funny because most of the times, we thought that guys who can easily pickup girls are studs, but all of the pickup artists he met started as nerds and losers who only decided later in life to seriously learn how to attract women and transformed themselves to look like alluring guys. Being the geeks that they are, they still became more obsessed with the art and cult, and less interested in actually spending time with women!
If you’d rather have a taste of the book on video, then try sampling a tidbit of the book in the author’s Jimmy Kimmel interview from way back in 2006 below:
Or if you’re just interested in fast-forwarding to what happened to this guy now 10 years later and the aftermath of everything that was chronicled in the book, there’s a cool piece on The Guardian here that covered a very personal interview with him and his reflection on the past few decades of his experience.