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Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping

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Shocked by the commerce in everything from pet cloning to patriotism, frightened by the downward spiral of her finances and that of the trash-strewn earth, Judith Levine enlists her partner, Paul, in a radical experiment: to forgo all but the most necessary purchases for an entire year. Without consumer goods and experiences, Judith and Paul pursue their careers, nurture re Shocked by the commerce in everything from pet cloning to patriotism, frightened by the downward spiral of her finances and that of the trash-strewn earth, Judith Levine enlists her partner, Paul, in a radical experiment: to forgo all but the most necessary purchases for an entire year. Without consumer goods and experiences, Judith and Paul pursue their careers, nurture relationships, and try to keep their sanity, their identities, and their sense of humor intact. Tracking their progress -- and inevitable lapses -- Levine contemplates need and desire, scarcity and security, consumerism and citizenship. She asks the Big Questions: Can the economy survive without shopping? Are Q-tips necessary? Not Buying It is the confession of a woman any reader can identify with: someone who can't live without French roast coffee or SmartWool socks but who has had it up to here with overconsumption and its effects on the earth and everyone who dwells there. For the humor and intelligence of its insights, the refreshment of its skepticism, and the surprises of its conclusions, Not Buying It is sure to be on anyone's list of Necessities.


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Shocked by the commerce in everything from pet cloning to patriotism, frightened by the downward spiral of her finances and that of the trash-strewn earth, Judith Levine enlists her partner, Paul, in a radical experiment: to forgo all but the most necessary purchases for an entire year. Without consumer goods and experiences, Judith and Paul pursue their careers, nurture re Shocked by the commerce in everything from pet cloning to patriotism, frightened by the downward spiral of her finances and that of the trash-strewn earth, Judith Levine enlists her partner, Paul, in a radical experiment: to forgo all but the most necessary purchases for an entire year. Without consumer goods and experiences, Judith and Paul pursue their careers, nurture relationships, and try to keep their sanity, their identities, and their sense of humor intact. Tracking their progress -- and inevitable lapses -- Levine contemplates need and desire, scarcity and security, consumerism and citizenship. She asks the Big Questions: Can the economy survive without shopping? Are Q-tips necessary? Not Buying It is the confession of a woman any reader can identify with: someone who can't live without French roast coffee or SmartWool socks but who has had it up to here with overconsumption and its effects on the earth and everyone who dwells there. For the humor and intelligence of its insights, the refreshment of its skepticism, and the surprises of its conclusions, Not Buying It is sure to be on anyone's list of Necessities.

30 review for Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dixie Diamond

    I didn't buy this (I got it from the library). I was amazed, first of all, at how awkwardly-written it is considering the author is a professional editor. It's repetitive, and there is actually very little focused attention paid to any guidelines she has for what is "necessary". She has minimal insight and seems to have missed the point of her own book. I mean, this review is not well-written, either, but I'm not a writer or an editor. I'm just a disgruntled reader. While the author does raise so I didn't buy this (I got it from the library). I was amazed, first of all, at how awkwardly-written it is considering the author is a professional editor. It's repetitive, and there is actually very little focused attention paid to any guidelines she has for what is "necessary". She has minimal insight and seems to have missed the point of her own book. I mean, this review is not well-written, either, but I'm not a writer or an editor. I'm just a disgruntled reader. While the author does raise some good points, she doesn't do it very effectively. This was one of the most incredibly self-centered, shallow, books I have ever read. I was amazed that the author would describe herself as "a woman of bird-like consumer appetites" since she is far more brand-conscious than I am, and I would not apply the same label to myself. I don't believe for a moment that her Alain Mikli glasses or Ibex jacket (neither of which brands I have ever heard of before) are not status symbols. Ms. Levine has a whopping sense of entitlement and a very poor grasp of cost vs. value. She admits that she had no plans to pay back her government student loans until the credit companies caught up with her. She laments the lack of state funding for the arts but has never paid more than 25 cents' voluntary donation to the MoMA ($12 suggested). She constantly mocks free, non-professional entertainment and harps on the lack of "culture" in Vermont and Bozeman, Montana, and how she lives in New York to be near art movies and high culture. She wants hand-outs. "I'm too good for your open mic night, but I want everyone else to subsidize my top-flight tastes." Oh, yeah? Well, mock my open-mic night, but at least I'm out there contributing. I play four instruments and arrange music for them, I paint, I sew, and I fork over at the museum because I'm darned glad the museum is even there for me to look at. What do you do with your spare time? Oh, yeah--you shop. Unless I totally missed something, nowhere in the book does Ms. Levine mention a past-time or hobby that involves her actually creating something original to share. She is spoiled and unable to entertain herself if shopping is not involved. Hand-making a Valentine is a major production and she writes about it as if she expects a medal. She is apparently addicted, also, to external stimuli--without a credit card, art movies, or theater tickets, she has no idea what to do with herself. Get a hobby, woman! Her ravings about Bush were not as bad as I had expected, but they were out of place in the book and she has a much too simplistic a view of the economy, technological progress, etc. She should have left the politics out if she has so poor an understanding of it, or is so unwilling to consider multifaceted viewpoints. (I even, technically, agree with her on many points, but they were very poorly presented here. The book was an ill-focused rant.) Why would an environmentalist who wants to cut costs have a New York Times subscription when she could have read most of it online or at the library, anyway, saving both money and paper? Overall, my impression was that of a very limited, self-absorbed, immature woman whose identity seems to have been almost completely purchased--the "right" glasses, the "right" jacket, the "right" entertainment, the "right" politics, the "right" organic food--but who, left to her own devices, has never developed a sense of who she is under the trappings. One has to suspect that her non-consumption is as much an identity ploy as was her over-consumption, and won't last a minute past New Year's Eve.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This book was awful. The experiment the author poses is a worthy one: go a year without shopping (necessities excluded.) Unfortunately, the author and her husband find a way to categorize nearly EVERYTHING as a "necessity," including (but not limited to): three cars (there are only two people in their family), an addition to their SUMMER home, the New York Times and Starbucks on Sundays, gourmet food for their cat and a $12 pair of socks. And that's all before page 40. Further compounding my fru This book was awful. The experiment the author poses is a worthy one: go a year without shopping (necessities excluded.) Unfortunately, the author and her husband find a way to categorize nearly EVERYTHING as a "necessity," including (but not limited to): three cars (there are only two people in their family), an addition to their SUMMER home, the New York Times and Starbucks on Sundays, gourmet food for their cat and a $12 pair of socks. And that's all before page 40. Further compounding my frustration with the author is her complete unwillingness to explore alternative makerplaces, bartering, learning how to make some of the things she needs and other such ALTERNATIVES to shopping. Instead, she just denies herself and then complains about it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    thefourthvine

    Three years after reading this, I'm still pissed off about it. It was educational, but not about not shopping or our consumer culture; rather, it perfectly encapsulates a specific overprivileged mindset. The idea is fascinating. The book is also fascinating, but only in the way a trainwreck is; the author announces she's only buying necessities, then decrees that everything is a necessity - the New York Times! Expensive haircuts! Basically, she spends the year not buying new clothes or dinners o Three years after reading this, I'm still pissed off about it. It was educational, but not about not shopping or our consumer culture; rather, it perfectly encapsulates a specific overprivileged mindset. The idea is fascinating. The book is also fascinating, but only in the way a trainwreck is; the author announces she's only buying necessities, then decrees that everything is a necessity - the New York Times! Expensive haircuts! Basically, she spends the year not buying new clothes or dinners out. (And she manages to save $8000, which - wow, I do not spend 8k a year on new clothes and dinners out.) That's problematic enough - seriously, I know people who never in their lives have bought even half the things she declared as essential; I know people who live on what she spends on dinners out and clothing in a year - but then there's the whining. Levine considers herself wildly underprivileged despite her two homes and three cars and new wardrobe every year, and she dedicates a lot of this book to explaining a) how she might look privileged, but she's not, because - she has to live in New York City (part of the time)! She'll die without real culture! (Which she refuses to pay for, and whines that the government should pay for, demonstrating a fascinating failure to understand where the government gets its money.) She has to have expensive clothes and glasses! They're part of her style and identity! I just - especially now, thinking about how many of my friends have lost their jobs, and how they're really not buying it this year - I am so frustrated by this book that I could spit. I would like to see a person like Levine genuinely deconstruct her spending habits - force herself to stick to a tight budget, force herself to evaluate each item she spends. But she didn't have the guts to do it, and I'm only glad I didn't buy her book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    I actually couldn't finish this book. Sure she was funny and entertaining but it takes a certain kind of constitution to take in all the super liberal hippie bullshit she tries to "sneak" in under the radar. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I hate super liberal hippie's, I love them. But I'm not about to inundate myself with all their propaganda and that was exactly what I was inviting into bed with me every night before I went to bed and it suuuuucked. Honestly, the point where she lost me was h I actually couldn't finish this book. Sure she was funny and entertaining but it takes a certain kind of constitution to take in all the super liberal hippie bullshit she tries to "sneak" in under the radar. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I hate super liberal hippie's, I love them. But I'm not about to inundate myself with all their propaganda and that was exactly what I was inviting into bed with me every night before I went to bed and it suuuuucked. Honestly, the point where she lost me was her ridiculous library tirade. So she takes this vow of not buying 'unnecessary' items for a whole year which of course leads her to the public library. She goes on this whole speech about how America is getting fat selling fat and meanwhile back at the ranch the libraries are dying of malnutrition. Wow. Pretty powerful. Except she didn't give a shit the year before and the next year she'll go back to buying every book she needs (unless some crazy twist of an ending happens, which I could honestly care less)... so whatever. Then in a later month she points out that her boyfriend is more and more in love with the library the more he depends on it. I wanted to tell her to go back a month or two and look in the mirror. She takes up the library cause when it's convenient for her and while she turns a cute phrase or two I just wanted to smack her. Plus it was just a downright smug book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    If you were really committed to not buying anything for a full year besides the "necessities", then this book would be a primer on how to not do it. She remodels her house, takes vacations (from not buying) and proves time and time again that an exercise in frugality is more common than an exercise in dicipline. If your motivation is to live a life more simple, Don't buy this book, either... I'll give it to you, or better I won't buy any firestarter and this will be the kindling that allows me t If you were really committed to not buying anything for a full year besides the "necessities", then this book would be a primer on how to not do it. She remodels her house, takes vacations (from not buying) and proves time and time again that an exercise in frugality is more common than an exercise in dicipline. If your motivation is to live a life more simple, Don't buy this book, either... I'll give it to you, or better I won't buy any firestarter and this will be the kindling that allows me to turn my thermostat and buy less heating fuel.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Torie

    I requested this book through Inter Library Loan at my work and read it in a weekend. It is a month-by-month documentation of a self-employed New York author's project of abstaining from buying anything outside of the absolutely necessary for one year. It was a lot more human than I thought it was going to be. By that, I mean that there were no black and white judgments about being a consumer. For instance, her struggle with defining what is "necessary" involved a great examination of desire, mo I requested this book through Inter Library Loan at my work and read it in a weekend. It is a month-by-month documentation of a self-employed New York author's project of abstaining from buying anything outside of the absolutely necessary for one year. It was a lot more human than I thought it was going to be. By that, I mean that there were no black and white judgments about being a consumer. For instance, her struggle with defining what is "necessary" involved a great examination of desire, moral judgments, entitlement, and perceived deprivation. Judith Levine's writing is really entertaining and her analysis is satisfyingly nuanced. I took a lot of notes and thought a lot about what she wrote. I especially considered the ways that her life was so different from mine that the things she considered necessary were things I consider luxuries, and how my life might look if I tried a similar project for a year. From my notes: How does my culture/way of life differ from Judith Levine's where I believe it would be much easier for me to give up the things she finds so difficult to eliminate? I also really like trying new restaurants, but eating out or going to bars is not necessary for me to conduct my "business" (as it is for her). I do not (yet) have to separate my social activities from my professional ones in the context of consumption, and as to conviviality, sharing food in my own home or in the homes of friends is much more appealing and meaningful to me than getting together in a restaurant or bar. I understand the appeal of cafes, for people-watching and being alone outside of the domestic space, but what, if anything, does this say about our lack of public space, where we can people-watch, read, drink coffee or beers, meet our dates, etc? Can we really tell the difference between need and want?: "The job of consumer culture (and all culture, in order to see the light of day, must be to some extent commercial culture) is to blur the line between need and want."(62) I want to take part in the culture that doesn't "see the light of day. Levine describes riding the chartered bus from New York to DC for the March for Women's Lives ("Half its seats do not recline and its toilet stinks."), requiring 4 a.m. wake-up, being exhausted the whole day, and then having to "trudge four blocks to the subway" and wait 25 minutes for a train once she's back in New York.(82)I feel like that describes every day of my life in NYC! Is it because she is older, that she is more accustomed to less difficult means of living that she cannot forgo paying for a haircut for one year, or use handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex (TM) to blow her nose? I know there would be a lot of things I would miss if I gave up all but the "necessary" for a year. But I am also dying to know what turns out to be unnecessary. If I decide to try it, I'll let you know. P.S. There are also great parts of this book dealing with privatization, the closing of the commons in general (which I am kind of obsessed about right now), and how public libraries are suffering from all of it. And it killed me that she couldn't find the books she was looking for in the entire New York Public Library system, including Brooklyn and Queens (that's assuming she knew to use InterLibrary Loan, of course).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    A brilliant concept squandered by perhaps the most unbelievably pretentious, self-absorbed, and hypocritical author I've ever had the misfortune of reading. Disgusted by our consumeristic culture, Judith Levine and her partner decide to spend a year of not purchasing anything , beyond basic necessities. Problem is, the author considers The New York Times, Starbucks, an extension on her second home, and $55 haircuts to be "necessities." The absurdity doesn't end there, though. Ms. Levine frequen A brilliant concept squandered by perhaps the most unbelievably pretentious, self-absorbed, and hypocritical author I've ever had the misfortune of reading. Disgusted by our consumeristic culture, Judith Levine and her partner decide to spend a year of not purchasing anything , beyond basic necessities. Problem is, the author considers The New York Times, Starbucks, an extension on her second home, and $55 haircuts to be "necessities." The absurdity doesn't end there, though. Ms. Levine frequently likes to pat herself on the back for being eco-friendly, yet owns 2 homes and 3 cars for TWO people. In another passage, she laments about not buying her niece a graduation gift bc of her shopping ban, yet when she goes to visit said niece, has a tantrum in a store, and buys HERSELF new clothes. There's very little real introspection that goes on in the book. Mostly the author whines about how by not being able to buy anything; she's being culturally deprived. In NEW YORK CITY. Apparently "free entertainment" is either a non-existent concept to her or considered subpar. Ms. Levine also focuses at great length about the underfunding of libraries (naturally, I agree with this), but then confesses that even when she is spending, she never gives more than 25 cents for admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the suggested donation is $12.00). Somehow she's shocked that the Met staff never roll out the red carpet for her. Is this lady for real?! Don't bother reading this atrocity of book. If you're interested in reading about a person's experience living minimally and/or more environmentally friendly, try Colin Beaven's No Impact Man.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    I know, this doesn't seem like something I'd choose, and of course I didn't--it's a book club book. When I first started it, I was enjoying it--I was caught up in the start of Levine's project and thinking about how I need to watch my own shopping habit more closely. But as the book went on, her memoir-cum-journalist-essay style grew wearing--I liked the memoir bits enough, but then she'd be like, "So then I consulted such and such expert at such and such academic center" and cite a bunch of sta I know, this doesn't seem like something I'd choose, and of course I didn't--it's a book club book. When I first started it, I was enjoying it--I was caught up in the start of Levine's project and thinking about how I need to watch my own shopping habit more closely. But as the book went on, her memoir-cum-journalist-essay style grew wearing--I liked the memoir bits enough, but then she'd be like, "So then I consulted such and such expert at such and such academic center" and cite a bunch of statistics. Plus her villains were totally cartoonish--a woman who wants to build a cell-phone tower in Vermont lists Wal-Mart and a prison as ideal residents of the town--and Levine gets snarky about even the people who she seems to think are good-hearted. By her entry on Buy-Nothing Day, I was very angry and her and her preachiness. And I agree with her claims! And yet still, I couldn't wait to be done with this book! I can't imagine the reaction from someone who doesn't agree with her when my own reaction is so negative. C-.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ciara

    okay, i know i am giving this book four stars, but go read some of the reviews that give the book only one star. they make excellent points & critiques that are 100% valid & certainly occurred to me while i was reading the book. i'm doling out four stars not so much because the concept behind the book blew my mind somehow, but because i think the process of thinking about the critiques i was making (the same critiques as a lot of one-star reviewers made) was really illuminating for me. like a lo okay, i know i am giving this book four stars, but go read some of the reviews that give the book only one star. they make excellent points & critiques that are 100% valid & certainly occurred to me while i was reading the book. i'm doling out four stars not so much because the concept behind the book blew my mind somehow, but because i think the process of thinking about the critiques i was making (the same critiques as a lot of one-star reviewers made) was really illuminating for me. like a lot of the negative reviews, the author annoyed me. i was extremely thankful to not be her friend & not have to deal with her freeloading woe-is-me ways. but i like that the book made me stop & think about WHY i was glad i wasn't her friend. okay, backtrack. the idea behind the book is that the author, judith, & her partner, paul, decided to have a buy nothing year. they would commit to buying nothing except necessities for an entire year & they would see what happened, i guess. it's a little unclear what, if anything, that expected. that they'd save tons of money? that they'd go "back to the land" somehow? that they'd lose their minds one day & spend their entire life savings on potato chips? i mean, the author kind of earned my smug skepticism early on by talking about buy nothing day like it was this really insightful, amazing idea. i am pretty over buy nothing day. i mean, i wasn't even that impressed when i first heard of it, which had to have been sometime in the late 90s. anyway. the author further lost credibility with me by such things as: not only attending a bread & puppets event (sorry, sorry, i know people love bread & puppet--i even have a good friend who is IN bread & puppet, but i have this reptilian brain-level hatred of puppets) but actually having a favorite sketch, owning a fourth-floor brooklyn walk-up valued at three times what she bought it for but still having the gall to decry the gentrification that she helped kickstart, almost bragging about only ever paying a quarter to go to the museum of modern art...a lot of things. basically, judith is your typical fifty-something NPR-listening crunchy lefty do-gooder artsy liberal type who is probably a little less hip than she would like to believe. a barbara ehrenreich type, you know, who goes out & exposes the seedy underbelly of the manner in which the overwhelming majority of americans live their lives & then reports on it to hand-wringing well-to-do liberals & makes a whole career of it like she did something really novel & interesting. despite all of these problems, the book made me think a lot. she & paul never really do settle on what exactly their "necessities" are. they decide food is a necessity, & that they can only make food--not go out to eat. & no packaged foods either. no frozen pizzas, i guess. fair enough. but judith is pretty adamant that professional haircuts are also a necessity--to the point that when she joins a "voluntary simplicity" group, she is very concerned before her first meeting that all the other meeting-goers will be sporting awful home haircuts. hey! i haven't been to a professional hair cutter in YEARS & my hair is gorgeous. & she drops a lot of brands, talking about her funky eyeglass frames & winter coat & such forth--i speak from experience when i say that these brands are the kind of thing you will pick up on if you live on the lefty consumer/status-obsessed east coast for long enough. i never thought i would sport $500 swedish designer eyeglass frames, but here i sit. knowing that, i kind of had to withhold judgment when she talked about her glasses. other people might say, "go to lenscrafters. thirty bucks," & yeah, that's what i used to do...but i got sucked into the east coast eyeglasses status culture without even being conscious of it, & totally considered my crazy eyeglasses a necessity. after all, i need to see don't i? i didn't even stop to consider that i could see just as well for a lot less if i didn't mind having ugly (or just boring) glasses. this is what i mean when i say the book made me think. i could look down my nose at judith for spending $55 on a haircut, but what do i spend money on that other people probably could consider indulgent? what do i spend money on that i myself would have considered indulgent ten years ago? ten years ago, i owned one pair of pants that wasn't part of my issued work uniform. now i own three pairs of jeans that i have bought in the last six months. indulgent? depends who you ask. & i think maybe that was the point of the book: making you stop to think twice before you start casting stones. an interesting statistic judith offered stated that 78% of americans feel that americans in general are "very materialistic & spend money recklessly". but only 7% of americans feel that they themselves are "very materliastic & spend money recklessly". i certainly don't think i am materlaistic, & i don't think i spend money recklessly. i live on about $17,000 a year, of which i save approximately 15%. another 35% goes to rent, & 15% to bills. another 15% goes to groceries. that leaves 20%--about $4000 a year, or about $350 a month. where does it go? clothes, books, eyeglasses, emergency medical stuff that my medicare doesn't pay...i'd consider most of it a "necessity". but before my divorce was finalized, i lived on $500 a month plus $200 in food stamps. 80% of my income went to rent, leaving just $100 a month for bills & those "necessities" i now spend $350 a month on. obviously my idea of a necessity was much more specific then. & it would have to get specific again if my income changed suddenly. it's very interesting to consider all of this when you stop & realize how much energy people put into defending their consumer habits. we could all probably stand to judge each other a little less, & hence act defensive a little less, & hence, probably feel emotionally better about the ourchases we make, & in turn, probably make fewer gilt-inspiring purchases. i have to say, living with my partner, who does not look askance at the way i spend my money, has done wonders for my consumer habits. i'm actually less likely to spend too much money on new jeans or books i could find at the library since i know i won't have to defend myself to him either way. i'm not saying this is a good book, but i'd be into my friends reading it just so we can talk. it brings up a lot of food for thought, even if it does so in a somewhat unsatisfying manner. & i am always up for critiques of voluntary pverty (gah).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    My sister recommended this book to me because I had started to reevaluate my spending habits, and had decided to try and buck the consumerist mindset that caused me to start to slip into credit card debt. The book is written by a woman who decided that for one year, she and her husband would buy NOTHING that was not absolutely necessary. No dinners out, no new clothes, no prepared foods, and so on. The book started out as an interesting description of how hard it was to make the mental switch - fr My sister recommended this book to me because I had started to reevaluate my spending habits, and had decided to try and buck the consumerist mindset that caused me to start to slip into credit card debt. The book is written by a woman who decided that for one year, she and her husband would buy NOTHING that was not absolutely necessary. No dinners out, no new clothes, no prepared foods, and so on. The book started out as an interesting description of how hard it was to make the mental switch - from being a consumer to being a non- consumer. She talked about the short term thrill of buying something, whether it be because it was on sale, or because it was really pretty, and so on. She talked about how hard it is to find something to do for entertainment that cost no money. However, as the book went on, it turned more into a rant against the Bush administration... sure, I enjoy a good anti- Bush rant as much as the next person, but... I didn't buy the book for that reason. I felt as though her point could have been summed up in a lot fewer pages: our society is one of the most wasteful in the world, our houses keep needing to get bigger and bigger just to store all of the useless crap we own, and we are fed the idea that we MUST HAVE all of this stuff in order to be worthy. Anyway, the beginning of the book was definitely interesting, and made the book worth a look.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David Michael

    What was a promising premise, not buying non-essentials for a year and critiquing consumer society, sadly turned into a lot of unjust whining by the Author. Indeed, much of the book is a 'poor me' attitude about not being able to buy things that are already a luxury many of us can not afford. The most annoying part was when her and her boyfriend are trying to decide to sell one of their many cars and complaining about how hard it is! As someone who choose to have zero cars, I found it ridiculous What was a promising premise, not buying non-essentials for a year and critiquing consumer society, sadly turned into a lot of unjust whining by the Author. Indeed, much of the book is a 'poor me' attitude about not being able to buy things that are already a luxury many of us can not afford. The most annoying part was when her and her boyfriend are trying to decide to sell one of their many cars and complaining about how hard it is! As someone who choose to have zero cars, I found it ridiculous. Ironically, the only readers who will most likely find this interesting are people who already consume far too much and who are unlikely to change their habits since the author can't even do so. What is worse, is how weak her knowledge and use of cultural theory is. Through out the book she will randomly throw in a quote by someone like Hannah Arendt without really being able to link it to the larger text. Totally butts!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ani

    This book had such potential. It actually started out interesting, with discussions between the author and her partner about ground rules, struggling to follow them, being acutely aware of how much they buy that they don't need. After the first half it devolved into political rantings that had little, if anything, to do with the topic at hand. While I could see a connection, however tenuous, between consumerism and the proposed cell phone tower in the tiny Vermont town where the author spends ha This book had such potential. It actually started out interesting, with discussions between the author and her partner about ground rules, struggling to follow them, being acutely aware of how much they buy that they don't need. After the first half it devolved into political rantings that had little, if anything, to do with the topic at hand. While I could see a connection, however tenuous, between consumerism and the proposed cell phone tower in the tiny Vermont town where the author spends half the year, she failed to make any kind of connection between the 2004 election and the topic at hand, yet spent about a third of the book on it. I even agree with the author politically yet still found this sizable chunk of the book unbearable. Also, the author and her husband weren't shoppers to begin with, so it didn't seem like they had much progress to make, which makes for a more boring story. There were so many places that this book could have gone to make up for that, though, but she just didn't.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was excited to pick this up at the library but, I had various problems with this book. One, for a professional writer, I was not impressed with her skills. Two, I felt she completely half-a****d the project. New York Times (which she could read at the library), coffee and $55 haircuts as essentials? Give me a break. And buying a whole new wardrobe for a man going into a nursing home? Okay, she explained the pants and underwear (even though not why it had to be new) somewhat, but the rest of it I was excited to pick this up at the library but, I had various problems with this book. One, for a professional writer, I was not impressed with her skills. Two, I felt she completely half-a****d the project. New York Times (which she could read at the library), coffee and $55 haircuts as essentials? Give me a break. And buying a whole new wardrobe for a man going into a nursing home? Okay, she explained the pants and underwear (even though not why it had to be new) somewhat, but the rest of it? Are we supposed to believe the man is 80 years old and has no clothes? And what was with the going out to dinner with friends she knew would offer to pay? Made me glad not to be her friend. Her ending about how much she didn't spend left me wondering if she'd be going out the next week and blowing it on all the stuff she missed out on. I'm almost pretty sure she did. I almost feel like she had such non-essential essentials, to pull in the middle/upper-middle class readers she was clearly gearing this book too. For them, actually following the project might have seemed impossible and thus unreadable. If this is the case, it makes her a sell-out. Ugh, extremely frustrated.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Samira

    I really enjoyed this book, mostly because I felt like it was not preachy. It was an experiment and the author was upfront about what was really nice and what was hard, costs and benefits. I was interested in a trip into her experiment and thought that a lot of her observations were striking. Without restaurants, it is hard to have a social life. Her experiment was easier for being partnered. At least she was not isolated alone. The decision to not buy books or see movies was made much more diff I really enjoyed this book, mostly because I felt like it was not preachy. It was an experiment and the author was upfront about what was really nice and what was hard, costs and benefits. I was interested in a trip into her experiment and thought that a lot of her observations were striking. Without restaurants, it is hard to have a social life. Her experiment was easier for being partnered. At least she was not isolated alone. The decision to not buy books or see movies was made much more difficult by sorry state of public libraries, which have experienced serious funding cuts. Her main gain, she suspects, from her year of not buying was heightened mindfulness about how consumption functions in her life and where the line is between need and want. In addition, she drew the lines between want and need in ways that do not necessarily match the decisions that I would make--for instance, going with cheap soap rather than organic soap. But still, her process was very informative.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    The first lesson of Not Buying It, save your money and don’t buy the book! How ironic that the chick who wrote Nickled and Dimed would write a cover review for this book, as it is another example of people being utterly unaware of their privileges. What was it within the first month that they required $30,000 in house renovations to help them work this idea that only a truly privileged person (with no kids) could fathom? And I am not lost on the notion that the idea is that culturally we are expe The first lesson of Not Buying It, save your money and don’t buy the book! How ironic that the chick who wrote Nickled and Dimed would write a cover review for this book, as it is another example of people being utterly unaware of their privileges. What was it within the first month that they required $30,000 in house renovations to help them work this idea that only a truly privileged person (with no kids) could fathom? And I am not lost on the notion that the idea is that culturally we are expected to “shop”, but it did not stop them from re-assessing their wants into needs. They needed 3 cars, come on? This book was a joke and I thought that it would motivate me to be more thrift in spending and I realized that I do not make enough money (and I have a real life, job, kids) to understand their perspective and hence then the book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Danine

    I have been wanting to read this book for a few years. Since I am trying to embrace a minimalist lifestyle and I love doing drastic and personal experiments I decided to finally pick this book and read it. As fast as I picked it up I immediately was disappointed with what I read. The author's views are aligned with my own on so many levels and that made me have even more of an attraction to reading the book. But after reading the first few chapters, I found myself agreeing with so many other read I have been wanting to read this book for a few years. Since I am trying to embrace a minimalist lifestyle and I love doing drastic and personal experiments I decided to finally pick this book and read it. As fast as I picked it up I immediately was disappointed with what I read. The author's views are aligned with my own on so many levels and that made me have even more of an attraction to reading the book. But after reading the first few chapters, I found myself agreeing with so many other readers truly disgusted with the author. Before reading the book I knew nothing about the author. Clean slate. She does not have children which does NOT dis-merit her (I think people who choose not to have children are great and have my respect) but I could not relate to her story. I could not relate to her problem of having to give up a car out of their three! Poor things! The author provides stats about woes of American spending but I failed see the contrast between her lifestyle and and her cause. The author never claimed to be down-trodden but what is it about her book that make people loathe it? Afterall, it was just an experiment. After some thought about this question I came to the conclusion that there was less humility, less empathy, less adversity and all audacity to be condemned "to a year of third-rate entertainment." Gasp! God forbid she spend a little money to see the local high school play. She might be condemned to watch a band of banjo players and jug musicians. And lastly, her priorities of spending are ill-placed from the get-go. The front dust jacket cover asks the question: "Are Q-tips necessary?" Yes, Yes they are.*SMACK* This is just stupid. Q-tips and other like-items are necessary for hygiene and human existence. What about $7/lb Organic French coffee? Oh my! They might have to drink Yuban, or worse, Folgers. Let's not forget the wine discussion. Her husband is in on the experiment, too, but since he's Italian he states "wine is like milk to me." I love how her new restricted lifestyle allows her to be bored. She lives in New York f*****g City and there is nothing enjoyable to do that is free? Not very resourceful with a two scoops of whining. I'm a hardcore liberal but I am embarrassed by this liberal. Find a cause, vonlunteer and fight for it. She likes cats, volunteer at an animal shelter. Volunteer at a food kitchen or a rape hotline. DO SOMETHING that doesn't involve you! Dust off the library card and read a book instead of writing a pompous one and asking people to pay for it like you refuse to do. Oh, wait she did use the library...unsuccessfully. The cat-Why is the author giving a detailed description of the needs of the diabetic cat? If they love their cat so much this also should not be on the table for discussion or on the chopping block for expenses. Here is the unfair part. I didn't finish the book. I couldn't finish the book. To make a low-blow pun I wasn't buying it enough to read on. Maybe in by the end of the experiment in December she became humble and pious. But on October 7th she wrote, "Intoxicants, including vodka, Oreos, and OxyContin, are off-limits. I want to be sedated!" Again, you poor little thing! I didn't buy her efforts of frugality and I didn't sympathize with her "sacrifices" when so many people are living in poverty. This book was written in 2006. As a reader in 2012 I'm even more disgusted.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lain

    I too could go a year without "buying it" if I could: -classify everything I want as a 'necessity,' such as expensive coffee beans, kitty insulin, "all manner of foodstuffs," and daily purchases of the NYTimes -exempt anything having to do with a house remodel and anything purchased on vacation -coerce and manipulate friends into taking me out to dinner, footing the bill for movies, and sending me care packages This woman is a hypocrite. Says the arts should be funded but then "never pays more than I too could go a year without "buying it" if I could: -classify everything I want as a 'necessity,' such as expensive coffee beans, kitty insulin, "all manner of foodstuffs," and daily purchases of the NYTimes -exempt anything having to do with a house remodel and anything purchased on vacation -coerce and manipulate friends into taking me out to dinner, footing the bill for movies, and sending me care packages This woman is a hypocrite. Says the arts should be funded but then "never pays more than a quarter" to go to the art museum (suggested donation: $12). Says she buys expensive glasses not because they're a status symbol but because "they're part of who I am." She also spends a third of the book on this cell phone tower debate where her "second" home is located. I'm not sure what that whole topic has to do with the book. All I can figure is she ran out of stuff to talk about because she didn't really give up ANYTHING. So she figured the cell phone conflict was good filler. I agree with many of the other reviewers: she's condescending, egotistical, and full of her own self-importance. Too bad. It could've been a great book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    I had such high hopes for this book in that it would be a fabulous experiment in actually not buying things - as the title would suggest. Instead it is simply a platform for a very whiny writer to complain about how hard her life is not being able to shell out for whatever she wants. She is able to justify all of the "necessities" she continues to buy (the NY Times every day, exotic rice and foods, clothes and pretty much whatever else she wants) and maintains 2 households, 3 cars (all for 2 peo I had such high hopes for this book in that it would be a fabulous experiment in actually not buying things - as the title would suggest. Instead it is simply a platform for a very whiny writer to complain about how hard her life is not being able to shell out for whatever she wants. She is able to justify all of the "necessities" she continues to buy (the NY Times every day, exotic rice and foods, clothes and pretty much whatever else she wants) and maintains 2 households, 3 cars (all for 2 people) and takes the second half of the book to discuss politics and putting a cell tower in a field. I really don't know what this has to do with "not buying it." At the 4 month mark in the project she talks about how all of her clothes are threadbare, her $15 a pair Smart Wool socks need replacing and it seems as if she may be forced to dig out of dumpsters at any point. Please. It is a ridiculous collection of pages where the author attempts to make herself some sort of chic superhero without adhering to any sort of code for the project she concocted herself. Don't bother.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    Early on, the author recognizes the need to seek out Freud: "[The fetish] becomes pathological when the longing for the fetish passes beyond the point of being merely a necessary condition attached to the sexual object and actually takes the place of the normal aim." Judith Levine goes on to say, "I replace the word sexual with the word athletic (sports having supplanted sex in the American erotic imagination anyway),and yikes, I am looking at myself in the mirror. The SmartWool socks became nec Early on, the author recognizes the need to seek out Freud: "[The fetish] becomes pathological when the longing for the fetish passes beyond the point of being merely a necessary condition attached to the sexual object and actually takes the place of the normal aim." Judith Levine goes on to say, "I replace the word sexual with the word athletic (sports having supplanted sex in the American erotic imagination anyway),and yikes, I am looking at myself in the mirror. The SmartWool socks became necessary to the attainment of my athletic aim. Then passion for the socks replaced the aim itself--I opted not to ski rather than ski without the product purchased to make skiing most enjoyable." Judith and her life partner decide to stop buying anything non-essential for a year. She was somewhat fed up with the shopping is patriotic meme, as well as the frazzle and the expense of holiday shopping. She didn't do it to prove a point, though it's pretty clear that as an established writer she has a deal on the book that would be her life for a year. She wasn't trying to decrease her ecological footprint, though that did factor in. She simply wanted to make it a practice not to shop for a year. Almost to a person, the people in my book group reported thinking about their purchases as they read this book. One woman commented that this book had sparked more conversations with people than any other book she'd read. Lest you think this was a shop-aholic going cold turkey, Ms. Levine actually didn't spend a whole lot before this exercise in restraint. They don't even own a microwave. Still, not buying it did invoke emotional responses, notably, boredom. She tries using it, invoking Walter Benjamin, "Boredom is the threshold to great deeds." One of the author's friends suggested a "don't buy, don't tell" policy. This created an amusing conundrum when it comes to friends, and another emotional hang-up to explore. They must bow out of invitations to dinner (they live part time in New York), or navigate the generosity of their friends. I think the author was just beginning to get the value in acceptance...there is a generosity in accepting what is offered. Middle-class Americans have issues with accepting gifts, whether it's dinner out, or compliments. We especially have a problem with asking. Judith put herself in a tizzy when she found herself at the ski slopes (a necessity I presume, or pre-paid) without needed ski wax. She couldn't buy it, and it was the hardest thing in the world just to ask the clerk if she could borrow it. She says, "Sometimes I feel like a mendicant Buddhist among Calvinists. Other times, as a Jew, I know what I am: a schnorrer, the kind of person who always happens to drop by just when supper is being put on the table." In the end, she says about choosing this experience, "On the theory that you don't think about your water til your well is drained, my partner, Paul, and I vowed to go a whole year purchasing nothing but the barest necessities. If I got really thirsty, I reasoned, I might learn something about how and why I quench that thirst." Something to try for a while, I think, but maybe not for a whole year, not for me. I've been there, bare necessities, not so much by choice. Like any mindful vow, in my experience, what she learned was not what she expected: "To my surprise, the transformation was not from Consumer to navel-gazing Anti-Consumer. It was from Consumer to Citizen."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Izzy

    The timing for this book, for me, was perfect. I was in my last semester in college, terribly broke and doing an internship. I was searching for camaraderie. You don't understand? I needed someone to tell me that it was OK that I live in NY and can't afford to buy anything. That I should forfeit my feelings of shopper inadequacy, and a waning wardrobe for a purpose; to prove that this material obsessed culture I'm living in is toxic and based on marketing campaigns and branding, which only makes The timing for this book, for me, was perfect. I was in my last semester in college, terribly broke and doing an internship. I was searching for camaraderie. You don't understand? I needed someone to tell me that it was OK that I live in NY and can't afford to buy anything. That I should forfeit my feelings of shopper inadequacy, and a waning wardrobe for a purpose; to prove that this material obsessed culture I'm living in is toxic and based on marketing campaigns and branding, which only makes it seem as if I need to buy the Always maxi pads with the wings and wet wipes, instead of the Duane Reade brand. And then there was Judith, who during fourth quarter retail season, realizes that all of this consumption is leading to waste. That these gifts she’s buying is really just her buying into a corporate themed holiday that’s supposed to be about love, forgiveness and family. Ladies and gentlemen I’m talking about Christmas. But it’s not just Christmas, there’s Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, Graduations, Anniversaries, all of these wonderful and celebratory occasions meant to rob you of your hard earned dollars. For a year Judith only purchases what she needs? But how do you measure what you need anymore? Do you need the pricey organic milk? Do you need the gourmet coffee beans—that one is Judith’s problem not mine—or is good old Maxwell gonna do? The book, which is written as a diary, becomes a little preachy. She is also a little too generous with the use of outside sources. It would have been more accessible, I think, if she organized the diary to compliment the scholarship. The best parts of this book are when she sticks to her first person analysis. Like how much harder it is to live based on need in a city like NYC then in Vermont with her boyfriend. Like when she struggles to make holidays meaningful without gifts. Could it be that the company you keep and a healthy self-esteem are much better than anything you can ever want…to buy??

  21. 4 out of 5

    Keris

    This book was more wide-ranging than I expected: I thought it would be a personal journey, but it looks at issues of world economics, environmental concerns and social responsibility and in this sense is enlightening, if a bit depressing at times! It's a very thought-provoking read, and I can't imagine that anyone who reads it will ever forget some of the lessons of the book. There really is something for every consumer here... To read the rest of this review (and more!), please visit Trashionist This book was more wide-ranging than I expected: I thought it would be a personal journey, but it looks at issues of world economics, environmental concerns and social responsibility and in this sense is enlightening, if a bit depressing at times! It's a very thought-provoking read, and I can't imagine that anyone who reads it will ever forget some of the lessons of the book. There really is something for every consumer here... To read the rest of this review (and more!), please visit Trashionista

  22. 5 out of 5

    Liralen

    I remember my mother talking about this some time back -- she hadn't read the book (I'm not sure the book had been written yet), but there had been an NPR segment or a news article about Levine's year. I don't remember much other than my mother saying that Levine mentioned going to a lot of libraries and free museums and so on, but it sounded interesting, and when I ran across it at the library it struck a chord. But I am confused, and I suspect that so was Levine. It's a noble, or at least well- I remember my mother talking about this some time back -- she hadn't read the book (I'm not sure the book had been written yet), but there had been an NPR segment or a news article about Levine's year. I don't remember much other than my mother saying that Levine mentioned going to a lot of libraries and free museums and so on, but it sounded interesting, and when I ran across it at the library it struck a chord. But I am confused, and I suspect that so was Levine. It's a noble, or at least well-intentioned, pursuit, but it's a bit...well. Confusing. Could somebody tell me what exactly the 'rules' were, so to speak? Or even what the point was? The point was not, Levine says (as she justifies staying in a semi-decent hotel rather than a fleabag hotel or a tent on the occasion of her niece's graduation), to spend as little money as possible. Okay. So perhaps the point is to not accumulate more things? But no, that doesn't seem to be the goal either; she has no problem with receiving 'care packages' from family and friends or with letting friends subsidise the occasional cup of Starbucks. Which...honestly, seems to defeat the purpose. Other things that slide by as 'necessities': ingredients to make beer (because beer is not a necessity, but anything under the umbrella of 'groceries' is); multiple donations to her political party of choice; anything that goes towards the addition to one of their homes. So yes, I came away confused. I'm not sure they ever defined what was and wasn't okay to buy -- by the end of the year her boyfriend was still making an argument for wine being essential (an argument that was never tested, because they had enough in stock to last the whole year) -- and, to me, that seems like a critical misstep. Transit was a necessity, but to what degree was never determined. (Should they take only public transit whenever possible, or walk when within x distance of their destinations? Should they have retired one -- or two -- of their three cars for the year?) In the end, I was just dissatisfied. For all of Levine's kvetching about feeling left out because she couldn't see the latest movies or buy the latest books, her experiment hardly seems radical -- it has the possibility to be so, but it comes across as an odd combination of zeal and halfheartedness.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    As many others have said, this book had good intentions, but came across as completely tone-deaf. As far as I could tell, the real struggle in not buying for a year for Levine was maintaining the privileged, urban-centric lifestyle she and her partner, Paul, were used to. The biggest struggle for her was missing out on New York's theater schedule and not being able to buy new ski boots for cross-country ski trips with her equally privileged friends in New York. This book was bizarre. These are n As many others have said, this book had good intentions, but came across as completely tone-deaf. As far as I could tell, the real struggle in not buying for a year for Levine was maintaining the privileged, urban-centric lifestyle she and her partner, Paul, were used to. The biggest struggle for her was missing out on New York's theater schedule and not being able to buy new ski boots for cross-country ski trips with her equally privileged friends in New York. This book was bizarre. These are not real sacrifices. I don't know if they were supposed to be. I became briefly interested when she started talking about the presidential run of Kerry vs. Bush and the commodification of politics, but even that fell flat in the end. This is not to mention, there were times when Levine came across as positively snobby - like when she and Paul stay at what they consider a slum hotel in Montana or when she unnecessarily villifies a Vermont business owner who has opposing views on a cell phone tower. Am I supposed to like this person? Am I supposed to relate to her (she and Paul have 3 - 3!- cars and two houses in Vermont and New York City)? Am I supposed to believe that she gained any new level of self awareness through this project? At its best, this book pointed out that America is in love with consumer goods (duh). At its worst, it was an indulgent, self-congratulatory bore by someone who attends political rallies and claims to believe passionately in what's best for America and the common good, but is so completely ignorant of what everyday life is like for the uncultured masses outside of New York and its surrounding vacation communities along the East Coast that her premise becomes laughable. I think I almost hated this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rita

    This book has received a lot of criticism, perhaps rightly so, but I can't help feeling that some disappointed readers might be missing the point that the author's failings contribute to the richness of her analysis. When she fails--and when she doesn't--she makes interesting and salient points about our consumer lifestyle, our country's economic structure, our nation's political choices, and her own individual feelings of elation and guilt. It would be impossible and ridiculous for her to have This book has received a lot of criticism, perhaps rightly so, but I can't help feeling that some disappointed readers might be missing the point that the author's failings contribute to the richness of her analysis. When she fails--and when she doesn't--she makes interesting and salient points about our consumer lifestyle, our country's economic structure, our nation's political choices, and her own individual feelings of elation and guilt. It would be impossible and ridiculous for her to have attempted a lifestyle of absolutely no purchases at all. How would that experiment have been enlightening? I think that most of us realize that the work of survival is a full-time job without the aid of our modern (consumerist) lifestyle. We'd be out hunting and foraging, or grinding wheat, not sitting inside writing book reviews online. Most Americans, as Ms. Levine points out, live in cities. Very few of us own farms, or live next door to farms, and many don't even know where our foods are grown. We are reliant on the market system for everything. Ms. Levine is undertaking an analysis of what that means, and how it impacts our nation and our lives when we are pushed to want more, much more, than we could ever need. This book isn't really about her project: The project is a vehicle for her analysis of consumerism. And it's not meant to treat any of this as a black-and-white issue, because that is simply impossible. Unless you think that you can convince Americans to abandon their SUVs and learn how to forage. Good luck with that.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I really wanted to like this account of a woman and her partner who forgo all but necessary purchases for one year. There were parts of this that were funny and useful, and I do think it is a good exercise to really distinguish what we need from what we want. That is not as simple as it seems for most of us in the middle class. But there was way too much local politics (page after page about debate over a cell phone tower) and not-so local politics that were now both dated and tedious, not to me I really wanted to like this account of a woman and her partner who forgo all but necessary purchases for one year. There were parts of this that were funny and useful, and I do think it is a good exercise to really distinguish what we need from what we want. That is not as simple as it seems for most of us in the middle class. But there was way too much local politics (page after page about debate over a cell phone tower) and not-so local politics that were now both dated and tedious, not to mention confusing ozone depletion with global warming. Sigh.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    I admit, I fell for the hype on this one. I agreed with some of her views on excessive consumption, but her over-analyzing the subject of consumerism and variety of rants that veered off subject grew old very fast. Her reliance on numerous quotations in order to pad out the book were off-putting as well and resulted, for me, a feeling of lazy writing. Maybe one of the messages the reader can take away from this book is that everyone has their priorities and one person's idea of life's necessitie I admit, I fell for the hype on this one. I agreed with some of her views on excessive consumption, but her over-analyzing the subject of consumerism and variety of rants that veered off subject grew old very fast. Her reliance on numerous quotations in order to pad out the book were off-putting as well and resulted, for me, a feeling of lazy writing. Maybe one of the messages the reader can take away from this book is that everyone has their priorities and one person's idea of life's necessities may be very different from someone else.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    This would have been a little more believeable if she still didn't own two houses because she and her partner just couldn't give up the NYC city life but really wanted to keep the Vermont life as well, and while you don't really need a car in NYC, you certainly need one to get to Vermont, and of course you need a 4W drive vehicle in Vermont but that does't get great gas mileage on the trip there, so you really need at least 2 cars. Sorry - if you're trying to make a point about not being materia This would have been a little more believeable if she still didn't own two houses because she and her partner just couldn't give up the NYC city life but really wanted to keep the Vermont life as well, and while you don't really need a car in NYC, you certainly need one to get to Vermont, and of course you need a 4W drive vehicle in Vermont but that does't get great gas mileage on the trip there, so you really need at least 2 cars. Sorry - if you're trying to make a point about not being materialistic, maybe you shouldn't be so materialistic.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Myrna

    In this book, Judith and Paul decide not to buy anything for a year except the bare necessities. I really enjoyed the book, and it made me think more about what I was buying and why. I also thought more about what was really necessary to me. I think this is something we should all be more mindful of, given the eternal blast of commercials, etc. telling us we need everything.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carole Baker

    Author was humorous and honest about her year of no spending. It's outdated, written in early 2000's, but still some good tips and information. Author was humorous and honest about her year of no spending. It's outdated, written in early 2000's, but still some good tips and information.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Awful. The only good thing about this book is that I didn't pay for it but got it from the library. It's boring and badly written (even though the author is a professional writer). I was looking forward to some reflections and analysis but the author is about as self aware as a rock. There was basically a whole chapter dedicated to the tantrum she had when she couldn't find her favourite socks. Really. P.S. I actually resent adding this book to my bookshelves because it was so bad but I'm terrifi Awful. The only good thing about this book is that I didn't pay for it but got it from the library. It's boring and badly written (even though the author is a professional writer). I was looking forward to some reflections and analysis but the author is about as self aware as a rock. There was basically a whole chapter dedicated to the tantrum she had when she couldn't find her favourite socks. Really. P.S. I actually resent adding this book to my bookshelves because it was so bad but I'm terrified that I'll block the memory of its awfulness and may attempt to reread it again in the future and would end up subjecting myself to further trauma.

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