Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping - Judith Levine

The Basics: Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, Judith Levine, 2006, 274 pages, hard cover

How I found it?: I think I ran across it ages ago on a bestsellers list and then put in a request for it on the public library's hold system. But that was months ago and I can't really remember.

What's it about?: A left-leaning writer examines various anti-consumerist ways of living and attempts to go a year without buying anything except the necessities. She has trouble balancing her high-brow way of life with not buying anything and the book is peppered with her questioning whether wine or symphony tickets are a necessity.

Did I like it?: I thought I would really like this book and was on a waiting list to get it from the library for months. I really didn't like it though. I skimmed parts of it and couldn't wait for it to be over. Levine alternates between giving details about her personal struggles with consumerism and journalistic sections detailing various anti-consumerist movements and theories. I understand that it would be hard to go a year without buying anything but the necessities, especially for someone who has a comfortable lifestyle like Levine, but it really seemed to me that Levine went at it in half-assed manner and didn't really come to terms with the reasons why she felt she needed to shop. I felt that she was preaching at me about the potential evils of consumerism while barely managing to practice what she preaches.

Will you like it?: I wouldn't recommend this book. While it is a tale of personal struggle, and I'm sure all of us struggle with our consumer choices at some point, I don't find Levine's particular struggle to be that compelling and I doubt you will either.

But don't take my word for it: A mixed bag of reader reviews on Amazon.com, and a review from Christian Science Monitor.

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