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Publisher's Summary

Ryan Bingham's job as a Career Transition Counselor - he fires people - has kept him airborne for years. Although he has come to despise his line of work, he has come to love the culture of what he calls "Airworld" - finding contentment within pressurized cabins, anonymous hotel rooms, and a wardrobe of wrinkle-free slacks.

With a letter of resignation sitting on the desk of his boss and the hope of a job with a mysterious consulting firm, Ryan Bingham is agonizingly close to his ultimate goal, his Holy Grail: one million frequent flier miles. But before he achieves this long-desired freedom, conditions begin to deteriorate.

With perception, wit, and wisdom, Up in the Air combines brilliant social observation with an acute sense of the psychic costs of our rootless existence, and confirms Walter Kirn as one of the most savvy chroniclers of American life.

©2002 Walter Kirn; (P)2009 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A dead-on, wry portrait of the life of the road warrior." (The Washington Post)
"[A] hilarious, often ingenious ode to America.. . . . Whip smart yet entertaining enough to rival anything from John Grisham." (Time Out New York)
"Kirn's style is as bright and metallic as the shiny skin of a jet airplane. But his underlying point is refreshingly down to earth." (Chicago Tribune)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Edwin
  • Mundelien, IL, USA
  • 01-09-10

Thought Provoking

This book was highly entertaining the first time through thanks to Kirn's clandestine poetry and the soothing voice of Runnette. I'm listening a second time and the elements of the plot have proven to be thought-provoking about contemporary America without becoming preachy.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tania
  • Royal Oak, MI, United States
  • 06-17-10

Not the movie

This is one of those books that I don't know how they got the movie from the book. I really enjoyed the movie and found this book sad and depressing. The lead character in the book is much more dysfunctional than the movie character. Would not recommend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ian
  • rocklin, CA, USA
  • 02-27-10

Couldn't Finish it

I travel extensively and could relate to the experiences, but found the book very stale.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Stephanie
  • CONCORD, CA, United States
  • 05-17-15

Awful Ending

Voice was ok, a bit monotone.
Story was ok at first, but ends abruptly.
Not worth spending a credit on.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Boring and repetitive

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

If you like reading about anomie, this book is for you. Drifting, obsessive compulsive main character, troubled, but who cares. Great observations of air travel and details of airports, but after a while, it's more of the same and more.

What could Walter Kirn have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Kirn might have cut this by half and improved it.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Narrator: montonous.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Amanda
  • LOS ANGELES, CA, United States
  • 12-02-13

No true story

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

If you're interested in comparing the book to the movie (that's why I did it) then it might be worth it, but otherwise no. There truly is no story. It's amazing that a good movie was made out of this.

What do you think your next listen will be?

The Reason for God

What aspect of Sean Runnette’s performance would you have changed?

A faster read?

Do you think Up in the Air needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No, it should have ended sooner haha

  • Overall

Good story, irritating narrator lisp.

I enjoyed the story but the narrator has this annoying lisp with certain words that end in the 's' his dentures don't fit correctly. It sounds like a picky complaint, but it really is irritating after awhile. I finally listened to the last half, while cleaning the garage, on a pair of cheapo travel speakers. That made it more tolerable and I got through to the end.

  • Overall


Goods: The narrater did a fine job presenting a rather neurotic unlikable character.

The rest: This book illustrates clearly why the movie was so terrible. It lacks a likable character, it is the ramblings of a pathetic head case, and is absolutely nothing like the movie. Since the review is about the book, and not the movie, I won't continue the comparison (though I'd avoid the film too.)

The characters are flat, uninteresting, and the quirky likability you seek won't be found in the text. At the end, you are rewarded with it finally, well, ending. Recommend most anything else.

1 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

couldn't finish

I could not get through this. I am not sure if it was the reader, the story, or my mood but I finally had to turn it off.

0 of 5 people found this review helpful