Sunday, March 05, 2006


Steal This Book

My friend Judith Levine just wrote this kick-ass book about the year she spent not buying anything. It's smart, radical, hilarious, and beautifully written. But don't take my word for it. not buying it Barbara Ehrenreich says, "“With great wit and spirit, Judith Levine tackles a profound question: Why do we buy and what do we get out of it?  Clue: the answer is not just things.  Outside the marketplace, the author travels from Simplicity self-help meetings to the terrorism marketplace, from confrontations with private longing to celebrations of the public good—and from consumer to citizen.  If you have to do without, or just want to do with less, Levine is the person to do it with.” If you live in New York, catch Judith reading on March 14 at 7pm at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 50 Prince Street (between Lafayette and Mulberry) (212) 274-1160. Or in Brooklyn on March 23 at 7:30pm, Barnes & Noble Park Slope, 267 Seventh Avenue (at Sixth Street) (718) 832-9066
This idea is growing fast. Time's up, shoppers. See for example

"The Compact has several aims (more or less prioritized below):

To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.
To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er).
To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)"

But how can I read the book? Haringey library has run out of money...
PS I can see a nice plot line here - Mo signs up to The Compact, which creates some tension around Sydney's gadget habit....
Hmmmm, my first thought was "Oh! I need to buy that book!". What to do, what to do. The author must surely have thought of this problem.
she discusses that problem in the book. i know this from reading the book in the store.

it's an insightful, humorous, engaging book. plus levine really did her homework. it's not just her story, it's our country's story -- she contextualizes everything, bringing in lots of sharp references. she even "infiltrates" a voluntary simplicity book and follows around rev. billy.

i didn't buy it because, despite this, i don't think i'm her audience. i'm a writer and college adjunct -- white collar, cushy, but underpaid. i work part-time deliberately; i choose time rather than money. most of the stuff she gave up -- like movies, like buying books, like eating out -- i don't do, and i don't miss.

this is not to be self-righteous or criticize levine at all. i think the book is more powerful and more accessible because of her economic position. i'm just saying why i didn't buy it, and how i felt a little outside of it. but i definitely give her props.
Alternet just posted a helpful and thorough review. "We are what we buy" by Marjorie Kehe.
i wish would pick up the strip...
and now to something completely different...
well, not entirely. speaking of books: Boston based people this might interest you- sarah waters is coming to town and speaking on march 31 about her new book invited by the center for new words and Co-Sponsored by the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change.

Friday, April 7 @ 7PM

The Night Watch

At Simmons College, Room C103, 300 The Fenway, Boston.

... and guess who else will be there in june...
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