Kate's Reviews > Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping

Not Buying It by Judith Levine
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's review
Dec 04, 09

bookshelves: nonfiction, memoirs
Recommended to Kate by: Entertainment Weekly
Read in December, 2009, read count: one

I have to say that I really like the premise of this book: the author and her partner decide to stop buying anything they deem not a Necessity for an entire year. It forces them to look at commerce differently, it changes some of their relationships with their family, and it causes some tension between the two.

However.

The writing was choppy and repetitive. I expected more coming from a professional writer.

I had a hard time swallowing some of her guilt. She and Paul own two houses and three cars, and they undertake some construction to add another room to their one house at the beginning of the year. Two houses, one in NYC and one in Vermont, are Necessities? A $50 hair cut is a Necessity, but Q-Tips are a luxury? She has guilt about buying clothes from a thrift shop? And don't even get me started about her stress over the Kerry/Bush election. I guess what I'm saying is that she, as middle age, upper middle class, childless woman, has the luxury of worrying about things like this, but I wasn't buying it (I wonder how many people have used that joke).

I also felt like there were times when she was complaining about not being able to buy stuff and thus missing out on time with her friends. How is it that she can buy the New York Times everyday (and you should see her and Paul's reaction when they're on vacation and can't find a place that sells the paper--the horror!) but she can't go to the movies? I mean, there have been times where finances have forced me to stay in, but please. I got tired of the poor me attitude.

To be honest, one of the things I liked--but simultaneously didn't like--about this book was how it forced me to look at how I spend my money. While my most expensive shoes are my running shoes and my nicest purse is from Nine West, I do have a lot of stuff--you should see my bookcase or the various bottles of lotions I have around my apartment. And having stuff made me feel guilty.
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