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Not Buying It…


I had the opportunity to read Judith Levine’s book “Not Buying It. My Year Without Shopping” while on our camping trip.

I was excited to read about the experiences of someone who decided to say no to shopping… or so I thought.

Judith’s book should have been titled, ‘Stories about my strong political beliefs sold to you under the guise of reducing consumerism.’ I tried to glean as much as possible about living life frugally but finally became so annoyed with the author, I didn’t read the last 30 or so pages. She droned on and on about how Bush was to blame for just about everything, insisted that frequent political contributions and political activism trips didn’t count as spending, whined for a chapter or two about a cell phone tower she didn’t like, and then explained how purchases didn’t count if one of her friends paid for it. When she wrote about a friend who had invited her and her husband to dinner and they went in hopes the friend would offer to pay (he did), I blew a top.

My poor husband was interrupted more than necessary when I would yell from my chair, ‘Honey! Listen to this. No seriously. This is the most ignorant paragraph I have ever read!’ or ‘If this isn’t spending, what is?!?!?’ while he played lawn darts.

Maybe it’s because I had hoped a book about reduced spending would actually be about reduced spending or maybe it’s because the last ‘fun’ thing I’ve bought in 3 months is a $15 set of lawn darts and my patience is wearing thin but…

As much as I treasure library books and treat them gently… I ‘may’ have thrown this library book into the sand in a horrible fit of anger.

Don’t worry, I quickly moved on to trashy romance novels to rot my brain for the next three days because really, isn’t that the point of a vacation?


  • Reply Mar |

    Thanks for the warning. I’ve had a friend highly recommend this book and should have realized I wouldn’t like it given the differences in our political views. I feel the same way about some of my conservative friends who blame President Obama for everything. There is much that his administration has done with which I disagree, but the problems in the country are not all his fault all by himself.

    And yes, it’s spending no matter who actually forks out the cash. What a hypocrite that woman is. Aren’t you glad you aren’t the friend that got stuck paying the restaurant bill?

  • Reply Louise |

    I also read that book and had similar reactions to you! Good to know I’m not alone.

  • Reply Vicki |

    Thanks for the heads up… but the question needs to be asked? Why in the world would you bring a book like that on your vacation???

  • Reply Money Beagle |

    Great review, I think many times people sugarcoat book reviews, but this certainly wasn’t the case and I’m sure many will appreciate the honesty. Plus, while I do think Bush was a lousy president, the entire ‘blame all the worlds woes on Bush’ act wore thin a long long time ago.

  • Reply Gwen |

    It has been a couple years ago since I read this book, so my memory is a little foggy, but I do recall being a bit annoyed with all the “exceptions” the author permitted.

  • Reply Gaming Girl |

    I can’t believe I bothered to actually finish this book myself. I got it through bookmooch and didn’t have to pay for anything but shipping it on to the next person.

    Luckily the copy I got had three peoples’ comments in the margins. I added my own bits of snark. The feeling of community from reading and responding to comments made the read worth it.

    The rest of it? I felt like slapping the author several times until she came to her senses.

    My review

  • Reply Lizzie |

    Wow! Glad you brought along some other “fun” books! Sounds like Judith might be a nugget or two shy of a happy meal!!

  • Reply Jen |

    Wow! Just, wow! Now I know to never read that book! I wasn’t a Bush fan, but all the griping you described would have annoyed the daylights out of me! Especially since it doesn’t have a place in a supposedly personal finance book! UGH!

    Then again, if she’s tacky enough to hope her friend buys her dinner, then it shouldn’t be a surprise she’d be tacky enough to spout off totally one-sided political views like that 😛

    The editor/publisher should have put the kibosh on that project. Talk about false advertising.

  • Reply Maggie |

    Wow, I would have hated that (I’m a Democrat but definitely not into Bush-bashing; let’s move on people!) Although leadership can obviously affect our day-to-day living, blaming external factors for personal failures is a recipe for non-growth. And how do political contributions not count as spending? Odd, very odd.

  • Reply emmi |

    When you return it, tell the librarian your criticisms so they can use your feedback to help shape up the budget help section of the library.

  • Reply Melissa D. |

    I didn’t like the book either. I just didn’t find it all that helpful compared to many helpful blogs available.

    However, contrary to another poster I would not ask my library to remove it from their shelves. Too much like censorship to me…

  • Reply Joseph |

    I’ve read that book and found that I just had to skim over the politics. But I DID find her writings on gift-giving and consumerism really interesting. It’s an interesting experiment, don’t you think?

  • Reply Claire in CA, USA |

    Thanks for the warning.

    If you haven’t already (and I don’t see her in your blogroll), you must go to Frugal Babe’s blog:


    She, her husband, and her son are living simply and frugally. They are inspiration to me. She is non-judgmental, and her blog is FULL of fantastic information on living frugally.

  • Reply Claire |

    I had a similar reaction to “Nickeled and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich. A 250 page whining manifesto about what Ehrenreich considered “low paying” jobs. She complained about about the types of positions she voluntarily took because they were hard and boring. Barbara complained about her co-workers; adults whom she felt were too uneducated and immature to realize they were being taken advantage by their employers. Ehrenreich also did her best to get her co-workers (who all NEEDED the positions) to “rise up against” their employers for being “forced” to voluntarily come to work everyday.

    Thanks for the warning about “Not Buying It”. I may read it just to see for myself….and then get really irritated and throw it across the room.

  • Reply Jennifer |

    I actually gave myself that challenge two years ago give or take when I realized that I was drowning in debt AND clothes that I didn’t need. It totally changed my life, and I didn’t go naked once. In addition to the obvious “I have plenty’ lesson, it made me realize how much I used shopping as a way to ignore my life or connect with people socially. My entire outlook on the way I live my life changed, and it all started with the no-shop. This year I don’t have any such rule, but I just don’t buy things for fun anymore.

  • Reply Michelle |

    Am I the only person here who liked that book a little bit? 🙂 I read that a couple years back and I have to admit – the book isn’t the best read out there, but I liked the spirit of the book and the conversations that it spurred between my friends and I (who are, admittedly, very liberal). 🙂 But to each their own!

  • Reply AB |

    There’s an old phrase, “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly; it should be thrown with great force”. Sounds appropriate here.

  • Reply Jess |

    I was so glad to read this, I picked the same book up at a garage sale a few months ago but didn’t make it even halfway through! I admit I didn’t end up throwing it, although I did bang it on the table a few times (possibly in the hope of somehow re-arranging to words into something useful)

  • Reply Christine |

    I recently bought this at a library sale and thankfully it cost nearly nothing because that is exactly what it’s worth. I am on page 72 and she becomes more unlike able by the sentence. Oh and BTW, I am reading this to cope with the income I now make during the Obama years- did really well under Bush. I think I will let you save me the pain of another moment wasted on this awful woman and just read something else from the library sale.

So, what do you think ?