Book Review: You v.s. the World
Last month I talked about a book giveaway and for the first time, I’m not giving any books away. I’ll need to decide what to do with the books I have collected and the path forward. Am I the only one still reading physical books? Are books no longer cool? Or are the books I am reading no longer considered recent? I did gather some of these books while working on a degree, promising myself to read and share later. A condition I recently learned in known as Tsundoku is some parts of the world, which later prompted a pairing down of said collection. Now that later has arrived, I find I have either lost my enthusiasm, the books are out of date, or I have outgrown them. I am sad to say that for me The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson is the perfect example of my dilemma. Remember when I talked about reading books via osmosis? Give a girl a pint because I finally read the book and boy was I right.
With titles like You Are Not Special, The Value of Suffering, You’re Wrong About Everything, …And Then You Die how could you not jump up and yell hell yeah? Except so much time has passed between the time I needed to read this and reading it after diving deep in other books that cover the same subject, that I can only nod my head in passive agreement. While I would personally give this book 3 stars out of 5, this is one I happily recommend to friends who are not interested in reading research or diving deep into psychology. Good on Mark Manson for making an easily digestible book with poignant examples that reinforces the idea that everything doesn’t have to be glamorous to be worth doing. The gist of his message is to refocus on the ordinary with as much pompous as the extra cool events that happen in our lives. If you are in moody funk and think the world you live in is heading the wrong way, Mark Manson’s book is the just the right light reading that will screw your head on straight.I would stop short of calling it a masterful philosophical book. But it could be-if you are stressed out and normally too busy to read and this happens to be the only book you read all year. If your world view is full of pain and suffering, with a twinge of the occasional sarcasm, then The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F could be your jam. It is full of practical tips for living a good life, to include living with depression.
There is however one issue I have with the book and it is a big one. Chapter One, Don’t Try, sets the stage for the idea that we try to hard. Charles Bukowski is introduced as a prime example. He is touted as a success and as embodying the American Dream. Hardworking postal worker that didn’t let the world buck him. He just didn’t allow it to get under his skin. Rejection after rejection letter comes in and it doesn’t deter him from getting published. Makes me want to wipe a tear and raise a glass.
Except I have the misfortune to read a book by Charles Bukowski and it is trash. One of my thrift store finds happen to be Post Office, a supposedly funny novel of a postal delivery worker named Henry Chinaski. Interesting enough, Henry rapes a woman on his delivery route, gets his girlfriend pregnant, meets his child, and then with total apathy checks out. While I understand it is supposedly a fictional account, there isn’t an element of humor in it. Only the sly satisfaction of doing whatever you want without a care in the world. I believe that is the fantasy that brought it fame. As Charles Bukowski became more popular I have no doubt his interviews became inspiring to some, but as a woman I cannot shake that it is men like Bukowski that helped encouraged and maintained the romantic notion of rape and the lack of accountability for one’s actions.
Even after his fame, he still showed up to poetry readings hammered and verbally abused people in his audience. He still exposed himself in public and tried to sleep with every woman he could find.
All of which is out of line with the message in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F. So do yourself a favor and skip the first 3 pages or at least read it in context of what kind of person Bukowski really was. Especially when Manson later goes on to describe (p.14) such a person as a psychopath. If you find a copy in your hands, by all means do read it. It simplifies the beliefs of a messy complicated selfie world into bite size manageable morsels.
Reach out and let me know if you want to borrow my copy.
Today’s post brought to you by the delights and atmosphere of Maxie’s Grill & Tap Room of Pinehurst, NC. Today’s choice eats: Maxi’s Black & Blue Steak Melt with the world’s best tasting onion rings and a side of Guinness.