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Not Buying it: My Year without Shopping Paperback – 2 Jan 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; New edition edition (2 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416526838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416526834
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Sharp and witty.... honest and humorous.... By thinking harder about how it would feel to consume less, we might just make ourselves -- and out planet -- a lot better."-- "The Christian Science Monitor"

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 1 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
Like many reviewers, I found Not Buying It a disappointing read. Disappointing because Judith Levine embarks on an extraordinary adventure in buying nothing but essentials for a year, and yet she shares so little of the experience. I was hoping for ideas and inspiration in my own battle to get out of debt and break free of consumerism. Instead, I got a lot of rather dull musings on economics and American politics, most of which were over my head (and I'm a university graduate).

In places the book reads more like an academic report than a biography, but then Levine's project was academic. She and her partner didn't need to cut down on their spending, not did they choose to do so for ideological reasons. Instead, they set up an experiment with an arbitrary set of rules (tissues weren't considered a necessity, but newspapers were, and they thought nothing of building a large extension on one of their properties during the year). By the end of the book, I didn't have a very favourable impression of Judith Levine. I was irritated by her constant intellectualising over ethical issues; she always seemed to talk herself out of taking any action. This is a woman who appears concerned about the environment, yet regularly commutes between Vermont and New York.

If you're interested in politics, economics or sociology you may enjoy this book. But if your interest is in saving money, my advice is to do just that and leave this book on the shelf.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. Robinson on 5 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had high hopes for this book - but very quickly it disappointed. It's not all that relevant to the UK Market for a start. When Ms Levine gets bored, and wants to do something that won't involve spending money, she does what any ordinary Brit would do - goes ski-ing. Hm.

More seriously, this is badly written, self indulgent, and just doesn't keep the interest more than a couple of pages. Spend your money elsewhere.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Shipp on 20 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
I have to agree with those reviewers who were disappointed by this. I, too, skipped a lot of the political stuff to get back to her lifestyle, but didn't get much out of it. As an avid anti-consumerist myself, I found it difficult to empathize with her and her partners' situation. They had a comfortable city home as well as a place in the country where they could play at the simple life, once the agony about having the right sort of sock abated. She may well make her mascara last a long time, but I got the feeling that taking your own sandwich rather than buying one was a big deal for her!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gentle Reader on 8 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
I received this (on request) for Christmas, and really wish I'd asked for Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle instead. Ms Levine is a political animal, so instead of hints we get polemic. She seems to have a very rosy view of European life (our wonderful housing and health policies, achieved by hard working unions, take care of all worries and we seem to work 9 weeks a year less than Americans???). Many times I actually did not know what she was talking about because she refers to products by their brand names so much. They appear to have been so well stocked before the year started that they (almost) restrict themselves to buying basics only - but again, their idea of basics is not the same as mine. In her favour, she does seem to question the American materialism but surely, at her age, with her background, this should not have been the first time she thought about cheap clothing being produced in Chinese sweatshops?
If you want a book that shows you an American comsumer view on the world, this does it well. If you want ideas on how to cut down consumption and lead a simpler life yourself, this is not the book for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Miss E. Potten on 17 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An ingenious concept, born well before the current wave of books cashing in on the recession. Levine and her partner make the decision to purchase nothing but necessities for one year in order to reach consumer enlightenment. That means no frivolous spending or feel-good trips to the shoe shop. Hmmmm.

Some of the book does indeed offer inspiration, but it has to be said that this predominantly comes from Levine's encounters with other eco-friendly non-consumers and discussion of current affairs, rather than from her own actions. She has a much-too-luxurious sense of what constitutes a 'necessity', and talks far too much about skiing! She would have been better off writing this as an investigative piece rather than bringing her shallowness to light in a book designed to do the opposite...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Annabel Gaskell VINE VOICE on 10 April 2008
Format: Paperback
Whilst this was an easy read and the author had some interesting things to say about consumerism, I can't help feeling slightly cheated for having 'bought it'!
At times it all seemed like a big game for this middle class couple with two homes; they stocked up a little before the year started, and didn't seem to agonise enough about some of their cheats, and what defined a necessity.
I agree totally about the state of public libraries - of course I could have, no read that as should have, borrowed this book from there!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. C. Harold on 4 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
Ok, not many of the readers of this book are going to be much like the author - an intellectual New Yorker with a penchant for synthetic fabrics and skiing. But reading her experiences one warms to her and begins to think about one's own relationship with shopping. Levine is not an extremist. She's someone who doesn't shop rabidly to begin with, but misses it rather a lot when she stops. She peppers the text with interesting facts and figures (and a few political opinions which probably aren't relevant to the main story) but is at her most interesting when writing about the intensely personal: finding a suitable gift for a graduation without spending money; coping without a hire car; taking home someone else's recycling just to have something to read (National Geographics, of course). Not a manifesto, which is what the cover might make you think, but immensely worthwhile and right up there with the very best commentaries on consumer culture.
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