two book reviews

Although I have no time to read these days, I keep adding books to my list of things that I want to read someday. After hearing an interview with Sarah Lazarovic on CBC Radio, her book A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy became #235 on my list of books to borrow from the library at some unknown point in the future. I love the concept – painting pictures of the things she wanted but didn’t actually purchase. This would work well for me since I’m not much of an artist and the stuff wouldn’t look particularly appealing once I was done with it. Lazarovic’s paintings, on the other hand, are very charming. And since I have never been much of a shopper, her philosophy is one that I can easily relate to.

Lazarovic’s philosophy essentially boils down to that familiar, grandfatherly saying “waste not, want not”, but with a noticeably different take. In Lazarovic’s late-capitalist world, it means something like “shop less wastefully, and your wants may actually subside, allowing you to live a happier, less overwhelmingly consumption-driven life.” But I’m sure that when my grandfather muttered those words over breakfast, he was referring to his experience of a Depression-era economy – don’t waste anything because you never know when scarcity will strike. The problem with our current economy is not scarcity, but the opposite – overabundance. It is up to us to choose how we interact with it. Read the rest of the G&M review.

On a similar theme is James Wallman’s book Stuffocation: Why We’ve Had Enough of Stuff and Need Experience More Than Ever.

He gives the following five reasons for why experiences are better than material possessions at making people happy:

1) Experiences are prone to “positive reinterpretation,” meaning you’ll instinctively turn a bad memory into a positive one, whereas a bad purchase will stay sour in your mind.

2) Material possessions are prone to “hedonic adaptation,” which is a fancy way of saying the novelty will wear off. An experience, on the other hand, is wonderful in the moment and re-livable in retrospect.

3) Experiences can’t be compared in the same way that stuff is, which makes everyone’s experience unique.

4) Experiences contribute to our personal identities in a way that material possessions do not.

5) Experiences bring us closer to other people. They are a great conversation-starter and make us more interesting.

Read the rest of the Treehugger review.