- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (February 27, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743269365
- ISBN-13: 978-0743269360
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 199 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #479,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping Paperback – February 27, 2007
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"Sharp and witty.... honest and humorous.... By thinking harder about how it would feel to consume less, we might just make ourselves -- and out planet -- a lot better."
-- The Christian Science Monitor
"One of the five best books on consumer culture."
-- Paco Underhill, The Wall Street Journal
"I love this book."
-- Barbara Ehrenreich
"An Important Book."
-- Bill McKibben
"Well worth its price!"
-- Editor's Choice, Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
Judith Levine's work explores the ways history, culture, and politics express themselves in intimate life. She is the writer of scores of articles for national magazines and four books, including Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Levine lives in Brooklyn, New York, and Hardwick, Vermont, where she writes the column "Poli Psy," on the public uses of emotion, for the weekly Seven Days.
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The first problem I have with this book is that the author and her spouse have some strange rules regarding "not buying it." For instance, they own 2 residences! They spend summers in a small town in New England and then spent winters in their NYC apartment. They together have 3 cars, which aren't luxurious, but still...they also exempt new construction from the "not buying it" regimen, and are spending around 50k to build onto their Vermont house, as well as buying paint, furniture, fixtures, etc. ?????? The new house construction probably deletes out the entirety of their other consumer behavior for the entire year. They also let their friends take them out for coffee, give them presents, and they stocked up on stuff before they started. So it's hard to consider this lifestyle roughing it...Second problem I have with this book is that it is disjointed--one chapter it's the issue of the personal expenditures, but the next chapter it's a discussion of development in small towns, especially the cell phone tower being proposed in the town of their summer home. Gosh, I got tired of that cell phone tower discussion, chapter after chapter. Then, there would be forays into meetings with downshifters or people engaged in voluntary simplicity, and Levine's commentary starts waxing philosophical in a haphazard way... Finally, I had the strong feeling that Levine wasn't enthusiastic about this. It's not entirely clear why she did this project, but she doesn't seem like someone who is really into this. She seems constantly depressed by her inability to engage in retail therapy, despite her statements to the contrary by the end of the book. Rather than feeling inspired to consume less, I mostly just felt depressed, and like I wanted to go get some coffee and buy some stuff. I think a much better book on this is Juliet Schor's, "The Overspent American", which is a much tighter, more focused, and documented book that not only suggests some fixes (not all of which are practical, but she tries) but also leaves the reader free to try to imagine scenarios of reducing consumption that would work for them. That book is more psychological in nature as to why people spend, so I think it creates some, "A ha!" moments for people as they gain insight into the situation, and I think that book leaves people more inspired. Get that book instead.
What I expected: I would hear how one goes about living without things that I consider necessary....for a full year (!)
What I got: The political rantings of a patronizing over-embellisher--who, paradoxically, buys WAY more in this year than I could, and have, lived on. The deceptive title and enticing write-up do NOT prepare you for the lengthy lectures on the evils of capitalism and being human--it is apparently far more noble to simply be a bear; though she does not quite explain how to live this superior ursine life.... Ms. Levine's writing, in my opinion, places her solidly out of touch with common America; ordinary folks who want a good life for themselves and their families are impaled on the spear of extreme ecology. If this were entitled properly, the name would be "You Are a Bad Person For Wanting Anything Good For You Or Your Family, and Let Me Tell You This While I Eat My Fancy Bread And Live In My Vermont Vacation Home on 40 Acres"
Halfway through the book, I decided I had better write this review to stave off what I REALLY wanted to do...drive straight to Vermont to personally stuff a sock in Ms. Levine's mouth; preferably one worn on a rather long, sweltering day by Michael Moore himself.