Synopses & Reviews
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.
"With great wit and spirit, Judith Levine tackles a profound question: Why do we buy and what do we get out of it? Clue: the answer is not just things. Outside the marketplace, the author travels from Simplicity self-help meetings to the terrorism marketplace, from confrontations with private longing to celebrations of the public good -- and from consumer to citizen. If you have to do without, or just want to do with less, Levine is the person to do it with."
-- Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream
"Levine joins the ranks of authors who do crazy things (like reading the Encyclopedia Britannica)
and then write books about it -- in her case giving up buying anything but 'necessities' for a year. But Levine lends her project global implications with thorough reporting about everything from consumer psychology to the decline of public libraries. She sells the heavy stuff by interweaving it with her lighter personal quandaries: Can she live without her beloved SmartWool socks? Are Q-tips a necessity? And, best of all, while she makes you want to repent for your greed more than a few times, she also points out the absurdities of 'voluntary simplicity' and recognizes the soul-stirring happiness implicit in finding a perfect new pair of heels, making her own book well worth its price."
-- Entertainment Weekly (Editor's Choice)
"Provocative. Plus, its secondary sources, from the recently issued Trading Up
to federal deficit projections to Socratic pronouncements, add a great deal of depth to a topic that could be perceived as frivolous."
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.