Book Review: A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy

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I’ve read several books about not buying things, but this was the first time I’ve read one that was just beautiful. Sarah Lazarovic’s A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy is the illustrated story of the author’s own experiences with consumerism, how she spent a year painting the things she wanted instead of buying them, and some advice on how anyone can improve their life by shopping less.

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Oh man, I used to love that show!

I saw this book at the library several times before and never took it seriously. After all, artists may be known for being poor but they’re not known for their great economic sensibilities. But I’m glad I finally gave it a shot. The stories about disposable goods were thoroughly humorous and entertaining. The compulsions to buy minimalist goods (“I have too much crap. I need more of less.”) are something I’ve experienced myself. And I could absolutely have used some of the rules she shares here rather than learn them myself the hard way.

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But… what if it’s on clearance for $3.99???

As pretty as this book is, I borrowed instead of buying it. But it’s really tempting. It’s so easy to read that I kind of want to shove it at everyone I know so they can all finally understand how I feel about shopping. I’ve gotten so used to not buying crap most of the time that it’s just normal now and explanations fail me when the topic comes up unexpectedly. Who knows? Maybe I still will buy it one day. But I at least have to follow Rule #3: “Don’t buy anything the first time you see it…”

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Level 1: Use what you have!

Now, I just need someone to write an illustrated book about why I don’t want the free tshirts that keep being pushed on me.

You Don’t Need It

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I’ve read that within a given day the average American will see several thousand brand logos and advertisements. And while thinking about how ridiculous that is, I also realized that I was wearing a tshirt with a logo on it. I thought it was awesome to find a shirt with a Wheatsville Co-Op logo on it at the last Really, Really Free Market, but am I actually contributing to the problem of ad fatigue?

Fortunately, using billboards to display art instead of advertising is gaining popularity. And there are even a few instances like this bus stop bench which serve as a good reminder that it’s okay to ignore all of the other advertisements out there. Maybe I could make my own “you don’t need it” shirt and see what happens.