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Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,504 ratings  ·  295 reviews
affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.

We tried to warn you! The 2008 economic collapse proved how resilient and dangerous affluenza can be. Now in its third edition, this book can safely be called prophetic in showing how problems ranging from loneliness, endless
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Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers (first published 2001)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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Dave
Jul 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Let's begin with the end. The very end. "When your time comes and your whole life flashes before you, will it hold your interest? How much of the story will be about moments of clarity and grace, kindness and caring? Will the main character - you - appear as large and noble as life itself, or as tiny and absurd as a cartoon figure, darting frantically among mountains of stuff? It's up to you, and indeed, it's up to all of us!"

When you read those last words on page 247 of this convicting book,
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Terry Lynn
Mar 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
This is such an important topic but the writing was so bad that I just couldn't bear it. It's WAY too polemical. I'm looking for an analysis of the problem (and found it in _Born To Buy_) but these authors seem more interested in making the reader outraged. Their examples are way over the top exaggerations--usually punctuated with exclamation marks--designed more to hook the emotions than to engage the mind. It reads like a used-car sales pitch or an infomercial with an agenda rather than a ...more
Jerry
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011, non-fiction
Just finished reading this after seeing it on the libraries sale shelf. The first half of the book would have earned 4 stars from me. Right on... total agreement with a lot of what is stated. Further in though, I found myself getting a bit frustrated with what I would call a left leaning agenda.. global warming, positive affirmation of Marxism, proposing environmental taxes on cars, carbon credits.... things that I think are just going to make guys like Al Gore richer. Maybe he will be able to ...more
Jen
Sep 11, 2008 added it
Shelves: 2009, non-fiction
My favorite quote from this book is from T.S. Eliot: "We are the hollow men. We are the stuffed men" (page 72). This hollowness or emptiness of modern American life, the breaking up of families and communities, the pollution in the environment, according to the authors, is all in large part due to affluenza, "a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more." (pg.2)

I love the ideas in this book and I liked how
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Trena
Nov 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Trena by: thethockmonthter
This wasn't a great book; the title was really the best thing about it. I wavered between 2 and 3 stars. Ultimately, the breadth (though not the depth) of the content just barely got it to 3 stars. I did not really enjoy reading it and it took me about three weeks to get through, even though it is neither long nor dense.

It has nothing new to say, although that may be my fault because the first edition was written in 2002 and at that time it may have been new. Now all the information is old hat
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Shanelle Sorensen
May 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, read-2012
Excellent points, great information, and it really inspired me to want to change.
My issues with it, however, were two-fold:
First, this book was based off a documentary. Obviously a book requires a lot more material than a documentary. In addition to it reading more like a documentary (which I don't think is a good thing), there were many points where I could kind of feel or sense the padding. Not a big deal, and it didn't make or break the read for me. I still learned a lot and consider a very
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Erin
Jan 24, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this book no stars, I would. It is deeply disturbing that such a tome of complete indoctrination is being passed off as a textbook in our schools. I knew the authors were leftist nuts right from the preface where they apologized for referring to Americans as Americans- hey authors: If someone is from Brazil, they are Brazilian. If someone is from Canada, they are Canadian. Only people from the USA are Americans as we are the only country called America!

The book starts off with
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Tamra
Jun 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: everyone who owns a house--you don't need that much space!
Recommended to Tamra by: Tricia
Excellent book. Or, at least the parts that I liked were excellent. The parts I didnt like, though, were AWFUL. In fact, it was so painful that I skipped about 100 pages, right in the middle of the book.

The book starts with Symptoms of Affluenza. I was going right along with them, nodding in agreement and shouting, "Right on!" every 10 pages. But then some of the comments were weird and frustrating to me. There was very little scholarship in this book, so there would be stats that didn't
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Daniel Gallagher
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a life changing book for me. I've always been concerned about energy usage and the environment, but this book explains in great detail how consumerism is the driver for a lot of problems in Western society. The drive for more uses more energy, creates more waste, encourages isolation, and feeds a machine of industrialization that exists only for profit. Advertising dollars are spent, particularly since the advent of TV, to socialize us all into thinking more is better, newer is better, ...more
Anna
Mar 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
Affluenza was not the refreshing, motivating read I had anticipated. This was a depressing, highly critical description of what for most thinking people is common knowledge. The scope of the book was narrow, and the tone's prejudice weakened an important message. Affluenza has been written over and over again (and much more elegantly and effectively, in my opinion). I recommend Tolstoy, Dickens, and history itself.
Nikki
I checked this book out because it was on a list that appeared, I think, in the Food and Drink issue of the New York Times Magazine. (You'll see many others in my current or recent reading list.) I saw the television documentary on which it was based several years ago, and I have to say that this is one case where the film made its point much better than the book did. This is quite often the case with PBS-type documentaries, but usually the books based on such films at least have a number of ...more
Monica
Jun 16, 2008 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the premise of the book. I've been trying to lead a simpler life for a number of reasons, and this book definitely reinforces why a simpler life may be the answer to many of our current social "afflictions." I gave the book 3 stars because I liked the facts it presents, but I found the illness metaphors to be drawn-out and annoying. I think the book would be stronger if it weren't trying to compare our over-consuming society to the flu at every possible point.

My only other concern
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Erin
Jun 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
Disappointing. This book reads like an infomercial, and the flu metaphor is so trite, and was so overused, that I actually felt embarrassed for the authors.
Margie
Mar 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: society
In each of the past four years more Americans declared personal bankruptcy than graduated from college. Our annual production of solid waste would fill a convoy of garbage trucks stretching halfway to the moon. We have twice as many shopping centers as high schools.

Fascinating, important information, right? Unfortunately, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic doesn't go much beyond the informative. It's not wholly without analysis, but I wanted so much more. (And yes, that's meant to be ironic.)
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Carl Wade
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Front inside Resource: "The Circle of Simplicity" by Cecile Andrew.
Pg v. Who is David Ross Brower? He Knew about the commandment to multiply and subdue the earth, but he was against the accelerating speed. What would be a slow rate and who decides?
Pg 184. Cecile Andrews is the one that sid "Live simply so that others can simply live."
Pg 74. Jesus said what if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul, Matt. 16:26.
Pg 131. The Bible teaches it's easier for a camel to pass through a needle's
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Lindsey
Jun 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, and the premise that time is more valuable than stuff...people/relationships/community are more important than material possessions...we should use our efficiencies and technological advances to enjoy more time with our family and friends (and connect with ourselves), rather than to produce more more more.

Two days after completing this book, I was driving downtown with my goddaughter (4 years old), when she pointed at a huge billboard with a Dr. Pepper can on it, exclaiming,
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Janie
Jun 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, pnw
Affluenza is a discursive smorgasbord. It has some interesting and useful descriptions and prescriptions (e.g., the 30 hour workweek as implemented by the Kellogg Company from the '30s to the '80s; tax policies that target big spenders on luxury items). But there's too much explored and explained too little.

They're a bit extreme about the causes and effects of the affluenza epidemic. It's the anti-panacea: it causes practically every ill.

I agree with a lot of the general principles around the
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Jana Singley
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
The informational yet entertaining book, "Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic", by John De Graaf, David Wann, and Thomas Naylor showed me how much Americans really spend. This book was written to enlighten readers about how much Americans spend, and the epidemic to have to have something, as soon as it comes out. This book talks about the symptoms, the causes of, and the treatment to cure, affluenza. The book uses the whimsical metaphor of a disease, to catch readers' attention, and let them ...more
Kressel Housman
In some ways, the message of this book was exactly like all the millionaire/cheapskate books I've been reading recently: spend less and enjoy what you have. The difference is that while the aim of the cheapskate books is to get yourself out of debt so you can get rich, the aim of this book is to reduce consumption in order to save the environment. It's a noble cause, but personally, I'm more motivated to save my bank balance than the world. Perhaps in these days, it's precisely the same thing.

I
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Anie
I liked the book, but found it a bit disappointing. I'd heard very excellent things about it, and it didn't quite live up to par. The writing is a little lackluster -- the authors aren't particularly gifted with prose, and the rhetoric was a little much at times. More importantly, I didn't feel like I'd learned anything by the end of the book. As someone who's been thinking about these issues for a long time, the book felt more like a righteous snobfest than something that really expanded my ...more
Serena
Sep 02, 2011 rated it liked it
I picked up this book because one quote in particular caught my attention:

"We hear the same refrain all the time from people: I have no life. I get up in the morning, day care, elder care, a 40 minute commute to work. I have to work late. I get home at night, there's laundry, bills to pay, jam something into the microwave. I'm exhausted, I go to sleep, I wake up and this routine begins all over again. This is what life has become in America."

This is something that resonates deeply with myself
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Johnny Galt
A little too simplified although I support the concept of it all.

Example: If you go back to Samuel Johnsons's dictionary of the English language, to consume meant to exhaust, to pillage, to lay waste, to destroy. In fact, even in our grandparents' generation, when somebody had tuberculosis, they called it 'consumption.' So up until this century to be a consumer was not to be a good thing, it was considered a bad thing.

Correct me if I am wrong but I think consumption in the tuberculosis sense
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Matt
Oct 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book will force you to reexamine your day to day life as an American consumer. This book takes a close look at the consequences and causes of our consumer culture and offers some alternatives to living a life controlled by "stuff". The information contained within may not be anything new to a lot of people, but when it is assembled with their somewhat humorous writing style, it really made me realize how absurd things have become. I liked this book because it didn't seem to have a political ...more
Linda Trionfo
Sep 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If you want a book that changes your entire outlook on a daily trip to the super market or mall this is it. The consumption of americans is so out of hand and gross. This book seems to cross all party lines and just give you the facts. I am a stats kind of girl and this is full of them but he is witty at the same time and really makes you think. Great for couples, Kenny and I have had many talks about how we can cut back, find more time for the family and give in less to the machine called " ...more
Cindy
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just a couple things that jumped out at me: This book was written a few years before the economic recession and yet the authors wrote it knowing it was coming, and soon. They knew that too many Americans place their hope in possessions and that was going to cause problems that we have now experienced since the publication of this book. The comparison of the American workweek and annual vacation days to other developed countries is eye-opening. Also interesting is the idea of taxing consumption ...more
Dioscita
Sep 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
I skimmed more than read this book because it wasn't quite what I expected nor did it offer what I was hoping for. In fact, there was a short "quiz" to determine whether the reader has "symptoms of affluenza" and the results were laughable (i.e. they accepted up to twenty-five "yes" answers for the "way to go, keep staying healthy!" category when I checked yes for just six of them). So this book isn't for me. I can think of a few people (and I'm related to them) who could stand to take a peek in ...more
Sandra Strange
Nov 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
This excellent book treats the values of the American consumer economy and the serious effects of increasing American demand for consumer goods in all their forms--on politics, on families, on the environment. The format, with copious graphics, including chapter and subheadings, inviting spacing, and graphs and charts that are easy to read, makes the book more accessible reading, since the topic is pretty heavy. Informative and provocative, this book will help you clarify your own values, and ...more
Jessica Culhane
Mar 19, 2015 rated it did not like it
Agree with Terry Lynn's review, which starts with, "This is such an important topic but the writing was so bad that I just couldn't bear it." At one point, I was astonished to read a particular factoid, and went on the good ol' internet to learn more. (I believe the "fact" was, Americans spend more on trash bags than 90 other countries spend on everything combined.) Turns out, it's not actually true, and is just a statement that's been repeated for so long that it's now assumed to be true. ...more
Mert Özenç
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
The point is clear, the language is catchy, the stats are impressive, the purpose is for good... Nevertheless, too many repetitions around the same idea sometimes leads the readers distracted.
In any case it is a good guidance to warn human being to turn back from the madness of constantly consuming, before it is too late. Highly recommended...
Ruthie Hayashi
Dec 19, 2014 rated it liked it
The book Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic is a text originally aired as a show on CBS in the 1990s that analyzes the behavior of the average American consumer. It treats consumerism as a painful and highly contagious illness, one they diagnose everyone to be suffering from. The effects of this disease can be seen all throughout America, as consumers cannot resist the urge to needlessly purchase, causing debt, clutter, and an addiction to shopping, ultimately leading to depression, anxiety, ...more
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