My sister is going through a difficult time, and because books always make me feel better, I went looking for a self-help book that I thought she would like. I stumbled across The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and mostly because of its catchy title, I decided to give it a whirl. I honestly didn’t think it would be as good as the ‘bestseller’ sticker purported, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The Subtle Art feels like a giant demotivational poster for all the toxic positivity self help that’s permeated our culture. Manson’s style is easily accessible, delightfully potty-mouthed and takes no prisoners. The whole book is a rif on the “behold, my field of f*cks, for it is barren,” breaking down what it actually means to give a f*ck, and why choosing what, where, and how we give those precious f*cks can make the difference between enjoying life and just looking for dopamine highs. Manson threads his own personal experiences in learning how to give better f*cks through psychological studies, science, and historical references. And while Manson isn’t a psychologist himself, it’s clear he’s well-read and well-studied.
The part I found most intriguing was his whole chapter on the importance of saying “no,” and how saying “no” isn’t about not caring or being apathetic, it’s about being honest with ourselves about how many f*cks we actually have in a bag, and how we have to put our f*cks into things that actually align with our core values or our goals. As a person who has a hard time saying “no,” (and working very hard on doing it better), I personally got a lot out of this chapter. He also had an excellent chapter on the importance of boundaries and why they feel counterinitiative to our happiness, but are really the thing that will give us happiness.
But while it was easily accessible, and at many times, extremely funny, I wished it had gone a little deeper in a few areas. Manson definitely gives some excellent insights, and a lot of what he talks about gave me a very “why, yes, of course, I’d just never thought about it that way before,” which was probably his point. But some of it feels like its coming from a place of immense privilege. This is not to say that Manson doesn’t share some very personal stories of some very deep problems, but I felt like this book was speaking specifically to the white, middle class experience, and white middle class problems.
I will still buy it for my sister, since she is totally in this category, and I think she’ll get a lot of use of this book, but I don’t how much this would speak to a diverse audience.
3 stars for some privilege
Bingo Square: Elephant for talking about “elephant in the room ” topics