Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping

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9780743269353: Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping

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 and expensive 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.

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About the Author:

Judith Levine's work explores the ways history, culture, and politics express themselves in intimate life. She is the writer of scores of articles for national magazines and four books, including Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Levine lives in Brooklyn, New York, and Hardwick, Vermont, where she writes the column "Poli Psy," on the public uses of emotion, for the weekly Seven Days.

From Publishers Weekly:

If you've ever contemplated cutting down on your consumerism but couldn't bring yourself to do it, Levine's volume allows you to witness and learn from this drastic experiment without going through the withdrawal yourself. Since giving up shopping entirely is impossible in North America (buying food requires money), the most interesting aspect of Levine's adventure is the process of defining necessity. High-speed Internet access, Q-tips and any soap fancier than Ivory, for example, are all ruled out as luxuries. With chapters divided by month, the book witnesses Levine's journey from enthusiastic experimenter in January to a still game but weary participant by the fall, as favorite luxuries run out and clothes become shabbier. As Levine trades in movies and restaurants for the public library system and dinner parties at home, she is forced to reflect on not only the personal indulgences she's become used to but also their place in defining her social space. Since this book is about exploring consumerism rather than economizing (although she does manage to save $8,000 by the end of the year), Levine investigates several anticonsumer movements—she joins her local Voluntary Simplicity group, participates in Buy Nothing Day and consults experts on issues of consumerism and conservation. Yet the most insightful aspect is Levine's account of her own struggle to keep down her day-to-day consumption of goods and to define the fine line between need and want. (Mar.)
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