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2 Burnside American Studies- Popular Culture

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping


Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping Cover

ISBN13: 9780743269353
ISBN10: 0743269357
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Many of us have tried to call a halt to our spending at one time or another. But what if we decided not to buy anything for a whole year? Obviously, we would need necessities like food and soap, but how would be manage without new clothes, treats, entertainment?

Funny, smart and self-deprecating, Not Buying It is a close look at our society's obsession with shopping and the cold turkey confession of a woman we can all identify with — someone who can't live without French roast coffee andexpensive wool socks, but who has had enough of spending money for the sake of it. Without consumer goods and experiences, Levine and her partner Paul pursue their careers, nurture family relationships and try to keep their sanity and humour intact. Tracking their progress and lapses, she contemplates the meanings of need and desire, scarcity and security, consumerism and citizenship. She asks the big questions — can the economy survive without shopping? Are Q-tips a necessity?

A thought-provoking account of the pleasures and perils of the purchase-driven life, Not Buying It will get readers talking about their reliance on the act of buying and the possibility of getting off the merry-go-round.


"Within 24 hours of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani had this advice for his fellow New Yorkers: 'Show you're not afraid. Go to restaurants. Go shopping.' As to how people elsewhere could help? 'Come here and spend money.'

However bizarre this response to terrorism may have been, Giuliani was scarcely alone. The Bush administration came out in... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)


This cold-turkey confession by an award-winning journalist follows her progress--and inevitable relapses--over an entire year of not spending.

About the Author

Award-winning author Judith Levine has been a journalist for over 25 years. She has contributed to many newspapers and magazines and has written a number of books. She lives in New York and Vermont with her partner.

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The Ultimate Consumer, January 11, 2007 (view all comments by The Ultimate Consumer)
For anyone interested in our growing consumer culture, bucking materialism, and living simply, Not Buying It may prove an interesting book for you. However, it may also frustrate you and make you angry.

In Not Buying It, Judith Levine provides us with a very narrow and personal view on the concept of not participating in consumer culture. The book is not meant to instruct or provide resources, tips, and support. It?s a personal journal with focus and agenda. If you keep that in mind you might avoid some of the vehement annoyance the reviewers on some other book buying websites display.

I think Not Buying It had the potential to be a great book, even if it wasn?t a How-To. But several things got in the way of that.

First, the author decided to embark on her project during a particularly nasty election year - 2004. I found myself wishing that she?d come up with this idea during some other year. Then the heavy political rants might have been avoided. I?m as left-leaning as Ms. Levine (perhaps more so), yet even I got tired of the politics and Reagan/Bush/Conservative bashing. It added nothing to the book and detracted from the very interesting thoughts on how consumerism operates in our culture. I would have liked her to explore the corporate side of the problem, instead.

Second, the author is an incredibly privileged person. She and her partner have two residences, three cars, and between them so much stuff they need to build extra rooms on their house to fit it all. So much that they can go a year without buying and still have too much. Therefore her view on living simply and not buying unnecessary things is a bit skewed. When you already have too much, it?s easy to do with what you have. But that doesn?t resonate with me. That she never examines this aspect of herself is annoying. She does mention the piles of clothes and shoes she owns, some with the tag still on. She doesn?t go farther than mentioning it, though.

Third, the aforementioned nature of the book - that it?s just a personal journal not a how-to guide. The non-how-to-ness doesn?t bother me so much, but the narrow POV of it does. It?s a very inwardly focused book that offers very little to the reader. One person?s personal journey to enlightenment is only so interesting, and this book doesn?t even offer that. The whole thing is very half-hearted, in my opinion. Levine doesn?t delve deep into her own struggles to combat her consumerist ways nor does she offer any real help for other people to do so. It?s very superficial.

Nevertheless, the book isn?t a total loss. If the topic interests you, then this book provides some interesting bits on consumer culture, materialism, and the drive to buy things. Looking at them from the outside did give Levine an interesting perspective. I wish she?d gone the investigate journalism route more often than the political screed or personal journal routes.
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Product Details

My Year Without Shopping
Levine, Judith
Free Press
Sociology - General
Consumer education
Personal Memoirs
Consumer Behavior - General
Publication Date:
February 2006
Grade Level:
9.26x6.38x1.02 in. .95 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping Used Hardcover
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Product details 288 pages Free Press - English 9780743269353 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , This cold-turkey confession by an award-winning journalist follows her progress--and inevitable relapses--over an entire year of not spending.
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