Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer” as Want to Read:
Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  689 ratings  ·  152 reviews
'Do I wish to keep up with the times? No. My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can'

The great American poet, novelist and environmental activist argues for a life lived slowly.
Paperback, 48 pages
Published February 22nd 2018 by Penguin Classics (first published 1987)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  689 ratings  ·  152 reviews


Sort order
Start your review of Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer
Ariel
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had no idea what to expect here. I just thought the title sounded intriguing.

And then lo and behold.. I possibly have a new favourite author??!! The ideas presented here are fascinating, they made me reconsider all sorts of things, and were done with such clarity and peace.

I LOVED IT AND I ORDERED ANOTHER BOOK BY HIM IMMEDIATELY.
Bloodorange
May 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: us, non-fiction
Worth reading, even if only to see how a paradigm can be questioned, how it was questioned, or to entertain the idea of questioning it.
If you are already solving your problem with the equipment you have - a pencil, say - why solve it with something more expensive and more damaging? If you don't have a problem, why pay for a solution? If you love the freedom and elegance of simple tools, why encumber yourself with something complicated?
(Odd fact: I have recently heard a YouTuber saying they teac
...more
Michael Kotsarinis
I found out about this short book (an essay rather) from a fellow bookstagrammer and it seemed intriguing.

The texts are now 30 years old and one has to take that into account when it comes to criticising technology. I can't say I agree with all the arguments and the overall line of thought but that's exactly what essays are about, to promote thinking, arguments and discussion.

Some of the thoughts in the essay have indeed become very relevant in the next decades and the arguments on the way techn
...more
Adeeb
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: honors-shelf
How refreshing is it to read a book that critically discusses things from both sides of the argument, and in essay format?

I hadn't known about this author or this new collection of books, but then Ariel Bissett on her Instagram posted it and I was so intrigued. And this is probably one of the best books that I've read this year. With less than 50 pages, the book raises so many questions and arguments that cultivate deep thought.

This book was written in late 1980s I believe, but the questions rai
...more
Nicky
May 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: hiking-outdoor
This book kind of read like an internet comment fight between some strangers, which is a shame because the author makes some valid points.
Nathalie
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
I could be persuaded to go up to a 2.5 stars. The ideas presented were interesting, and certainly well worth some more thought. But 1. I do not agree with most of them (however important they might be for a broad, wide sided look and discussion on the issue) and 2. I could not stand the tone of this. Berry seemed very self-righteous. He criticised his critics that they could not accept a single argument to be brought against their issue, and then proceeded to minutely lay down every arguments th ...more
Kirsty
Sep 21, 2018 rated it liked it
The fiftieth, and final, Penguin Modern is Wendell Berry's Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer, which features two essays. The title essay was published for the first time in Harper's magazine in 1987, and the second - 'Feminism, the Body and the Machine', which provides a reflection upon it - in 1990.

In the first essay, as is evident in its title, Berry argues his case for writing 'in the day time, without electric light', and with only paper and a pencil. He says, of his decision: 'I do not
...more
Karolina Zych
Apr 21, 2018 rated it liked it
the topic was very interesting but the way of explaining his opinion was weird.
Vienna
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
*4.5 stars. Really makes you think and glad I picked it up (Thanks to Ariel Bissett, haha)
Chris J
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this short book at my wife's request. If I am going to adhere to my standard that a 5-star rating means I believe everyone should read that book then this is a 5-star. Regarding the book: the title essay is only five pages long. It is followed by five or so letters (highly critical) written in response to Berry's essay, which was published in Harper's. The next few pages contain his retort to those letters. The remainder of the book (and the lion's share) is another essay of Berry's that ...more
James
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
The first segment of this essay (read: 10 or so pages) starts us out with the well-founded idea that perhaps a computer is not necessary for a full life, painted against an (under-explained) concern for environmentalism and a clear fondness for slow and considered ways of life that I genuinely felt some connection to. This is then immediately followed by a self-aggrandising diatribe of which the bulk is devoted to explaining that the fact that his wife types out his work for him isn't oppressive ...more
Elena Manole
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
an essay written 30 years ago that is much more relevant today; even though I didn't agree with every point he made, it was still a very interesting and thought-provoking read.

We are going to have to learn to give up things that we have learned (in only a few years, after all) to ‘need.’
Kristīne
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"If the use of a computer is a new idea, then a newer idea is not to use one."
Annika
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Everyone GO READ THIS: it is fucking amazing and you need this in your life.

Pay that damn euro/pound/dollar and get yourself a copy!
Olivera
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Magnificent. If only more people thought like this man.
Kira
Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, non-fiction
3.5 stars*

I agree with the ideology, not so much the practicality lol
Samuel
Aug 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Not all (technological) progress is good or for the benefit of humankind.

"Do I wish to keep up with the times? No. My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can."
Kritika Narula
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Our dependence on capitalism is its only recommendation of itself.
I absolutely loved the book, and how it was compiled into a series of replies which brought all opposing views. At a subtler level, it was also a snide remark on how conversations happen today, and how it isn't different from a pre-google era.
Heike
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: facing-life
His claim is simple: do we need a solution to a problem we do not have: no!
Very well formulated, with lots of food for thoughts – everyone should read it!
Dominik
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Pros:
- It will lead to interesting discussions if you read it in a group or a classroom setting.
- It is a document of its time.

Cons:

- As far as arguments go, there is not much logical structure to the text, it's self indulgent style over substance and gut feeling over arguments in most cases.

Neutral:

It's interesting to ponder how Berry would have coped as a blogger. He received 20 letters after publishing this. Yet those letters who are published here remind one a lot of the internet comment se
...more
T P Kennedy
Feb 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
I can't disagree with the central thesis but there's noting very new here. The framing of a brief article followed by taking issue with letters written in response to it is irritating. This series is fantastic in terms of sampling unfamiliar authors but this is one sample I disliked.
Katrin
Feb 28, 2018 added it
I hate read this one. Yes, it is thought provoking. Yes, there are some very important bits and pieces in here. But, hell, do I disagree with most of it.
Linton
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-paperback
A very cheap, short couple of essays which over many topics but largely focuses upon titiular justification.

While the main topic is of interest, it is the other topics and in particular the one of industrialisation which I was most interested in. The page or so in which he comments on the educational system of the time (1989) is marvellous -- though of course also depressing considering how much worse the system is now. It is this industrial attitude which has changed the modern world the most
...more
Anne
Mar 28, 2018 added it
Shelves: nonfiction
Sometimes a text is more important for what it does to your mind than how it is executed.

Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer is far from a perfect book: Berry criticises his critics for having "more feeling than intelligen[ce]", but bases many arguments of his own on feeling and tries to sell them off as intelligence. He flirts with Marx but fails to mention him. He makes some tenuous connections between his arguments which look good at first sight but wither when you inspect them closely.

But t
...more
Katherine
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! It was written in 1987/89 but it’s already talking about ecological issues. Why didn’t we listen then, when we knew?
Laura
May 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-own, read-in-2020
I appreciated the messages of these essays, but the writing did not grab my attention at all. I spent 12 days reading a 48-page book 😅
Rebecca Macaskill
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-in-glasgow
A great short read, with lots of meat in it to get your teeth into. I particularly enjoyed the second section of the book in which Berry goes into much more detail behind his thinking and reasoning for not buying a computer. I won't be getting rid of my laptop and smartphone just yet, but reading this has definitely given me a new perspective on why I might be using the technology I use; for good, or bad? And what is that good and bad while we're at it? Lots of food for thought!
Iris Bratton
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5/5 STARS

An interesting perspective on technology and its consequences.

What an interesting view Wendell Berry has. I've always feared technology but really never thought of why. I guess I've never really weighed the options when it came to using it. Being raised in a culture where it's normal, I've never really thought about how it affects us as parents, as a society and as evolving human beings.

Now Berry isn't completely against the idea of technology but he's more wary of the brainwashing
...more
Larissa
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Before reading this short collection of two of Berry's essays, I've never heard of him before. I saw this book on Ariel Bissett's YouTube channel and I was very intrigued (and not only by the beautiful cover design ;)). I really enjoyed reading his opinions on technology and how we as humans are evolving with it.
Zaabakar
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A more thought-provoking read than I expected and I had to slow my reading speed significantly to absorb the arguments.

A well-argued essay (and response to its feedback) not just on computers and why he prefers not to use one but also on technological progress, feminism, and the environment.

I'd only vaguely heard of Berry but in these past two weeks, I've heard his name and books mentioned at least three times.

If the TBR pile is reduced, perhaps I will pick up his novel Hannah Coulter.
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Fame
  • The Problem That Has No Name
  • Lance
  • Create Dangerously
  • The Survivor
  • The Skeleton's Holiday
  • Three Japanese Short Stories
  • Dark Days
  • The Dialogue of Two Snails
  • The Missing Girl
  • New York City in 1979
  • Food
  • Notes on Camp
  • An Advertisement for Toothpaste
  • Why Do You Wear a Cheap Watch?
  • Notes on Nationalism
  • Letter to My Mother
  • Television Was a Baby Crawling Toward That Deathchamber
See similar books…
2,551 followers
Wendell Berry is a conservationist, farmer, essayist, novelist, professor of English and poet. He was born August 5, 1934 in Henry County, Kentucky where he now lives on a farm. The New York Times has called Berry the "prophet of rural America."

Related Articles

In a year that seems to present new challenges for us at every turn, Julia Alvarez’s latest novel, Afterlife, has arrived at the perfect time.
47 likes · 14 comments
“I should ask, in the first place, whether or not I wish to purchase a solution to a problem that I do not have.” 4 likes
“If you are already solving your problem with the equipment you have - a pencil, say- why solve it with something more expensive and more damaging? If you don't have a problem, why pay for a solution? If you love the freedom and elegance of simple toons, why encumber yourself with something complicated?
And yet, if we are ever again going to have a world fit and pleasant for little children, we are surely going to have to draw the line where it is not easily drawn. We are going to have to learn to give up things that we have learned (in only a few years, after all) to 'need'.”
1 likes
More quotes…