Very entertaining, and very educational! And for those of you who haven’t yet watched The Good Place, I recommend that you stop reading this review and just go watch that show instead. It would be a much better way to spend your time. This is relevant because Mike Schur, the author of How to Be Perfect, is the creator of The Good Place, and this is a book he wrote because of his experience on that show.
It is NOT a behind the scenes book at all, so if you read the blurb and somehow came away with the idea that it was going to be about the show, it’s not. This is a book that is basically 300 pages of Schur wrestling personally with ethics by walking us through the philosophers and their philosophies that personally resonated with him the most. It’s funny and educational at the same time. And the audio version, which is the way to go if you like audiobooks, is narrated mostly by Schur, but cameos from the cast of The Good Place feature throughout; they read quotes from philosophers, basically, and Ted Danson also reads all the chapter headers in his Michael voice, and it is perfect.
My only complaint, and why this didn’t get five stars, is that Schur was really influenced by the still-living philosopher Peter Singer, who is a utilitarianist. Read the book or use Google if you’re curious about what that is, but long story short, his philosophy (which Schur doesn’t agree with for the most part) has led Singer to some pretty inhumane conclusions about humans with disabilities. I was made aware of him when I read Disability Visibility a couple years back, and one of the essays was by a disability activist he debated, essentially about her right to exist. It really turned me off, and I do find it disappointing that Schur writes these extremely controversial opinions off in a one-sentence footnote.
[4 stars for the book, but 5 stars for the audiobook, so we’ll call it a 4.5]