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.
"An important book." Bill McKibben
"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
"I love this book." Barbara Ehrenreich
"One of the five best books on consumer culture." Paco Underhill, The Wall Street Journal
"Sharp and witty....honest and humorous....By thinking harder about how it would feel to consume less, we might just make ourselves and our planet a lot better." The Christian Science Monitor
"[Levine] explores with refreshing doses of self-critique the emotional and social impulses that drive shopping....[A] lively, thoughtful look at consumerism and anticonsumerism." Library Journal
"An entertaining exploration of personal desires and needs, with larger social and economic implications." Kirkus Reviews
"Well worth its price!"
-- Editor's Choice, Entertainment Weekly
An award-winning journalist traces a year during which she and her partner struggled with a pledge to avoid consumer spending practices in spite of their American conditioning, an effort that had a profound impact on their careers, family relationships, and personal identities. By the author of Do You Remember Me? Reprint. 35,000 first printing.
This cold-turkey confession by an award-winning journalist follows her progress and inevitable relapses over an entire year of not spending.
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.
About the Author
Levine has written about the ways in which culture, politics, and history are enacted in people's intimate lives over the past twenty-five years. Her articles and essays have appeared in dozens of national publications, including Harper's, The New York Times, and salon.com. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and Hardwick, Vermont.