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BOOK REVIEW: "The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck"

Harper Collins
Mark Manson's 2016 book, "The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck"
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On September 13, 2016, a 33-year-old self-help writer sought his latest project that was beginning to hit the shelves of popular bookstores. There, donned in its orange cover and pronouncing to the world its message of self-awareness, sat Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

Avid readers tag alongside people desperate to know that the world is going to hell with the hand grenade when they buy Manson’s second self-help book.

Though the novel reached #6 on the New York Times Bestseller list and #9 on the Washington Post Bestseller’s, this novel brings no innovative ideas that haven’t been explored by philosophy or rational thinking.

To put it frankly, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is Buddhism for Bros.

Not to put into a bad perspective, the book discusses the nature of modern society and consistent issues with people and how they view their problems. Whether it is caring too much or overloading your day-keeper with unnecessary clutter, Manson approaches the subject with an idea of concentrated apathy.

“Because here’s the thing that’s wrong with all of the “How to Be Happy” shit that’s been shared eight million times on Facebook in the past few years,” Manson writes. “Here’s what nobody realizes about all of this crap: The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience.”

I will admit, it’s refreshing to read a book that wants to reiterate the idea that it’s okay to admit that the world is a madly crazed machine that has neither anger nor sympathy towards any given person.

Manson’s style of bluntly addressing his audience allows him to convey messages that would otherwise go unheard. Not everyone is going to be familiar with the ideas of self-awareness that have been taught in most philosophy classes since our grandfathers were caught sleeping in them. With that said, his style seems more relevant nowadays.

Funny anecdotes, as well as some historical examples, allow for the audience to be able to reflect on their own lives and relationships. This is the typical recipe for any self-help book but it was as though your alcoholic uncle arrived and began to give life lessons.

It’s as though the book was only labeled the way that it was in order to catch the eye of any passerby. It worked for me, after all. The novel focuses more on the things to actually give a damn about than to not give a damn about anything at all.

The book explores the idea of not caring about anything as I will. It’s not about not caring because that falls under the same category as psychopathy. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather not be labeled as such.

An honest and snarky writer perhaps, but not a psychopath.

 Manson proposes that people around the world entitle themselves to care about all the wrong things while leaving the important things unattended. He writes, “This, in a nutshell, is what “self-improvement” is really about: prioritizing better values, choosing better things to give a f*ck about. Because when you give better f*cks, you get better problems. And when you get better problems,” 

The problem that lies in this book is that it never presents any ideas that haven't been talked about by some person or another.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” or “You can only change what is in front of you,” are some of the typical clichés that go by the basis of what Manson writes. He no more than took self-help principles, made it guzzle some whiskey, threw some hipster duds on it with an ironic smirk and presented it as his own.

In fact, the majority of Manson’s ideas can be derived by the fundamentals of Buddhism.

Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths from Buddha’s teachings. The teachings are listed as the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that frees us from suffering.

According to PBS, “suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end, and it has a cause to bring about its end. The notion of suffering is not intended to convey a negative worldview, but rather, a pragmatic perspective that deals with the world as it is, and attempts to rectify.”

Each of the Four Noble Truths was explored, dissected and devoured by the author and whoever the reader might be at any given time.

That being said, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck should have been appropriately labeled as What and what not to give a f*ck about.

Manson’s introspection of the overactive society that we all lives in is an accurate reading of the pulse. However, he provides a haphazard solution to the problem at hand. Like giving a pair of prescription glasses to a near-sighted kid quickly losing his sight by the day.

Who’s to say if Mark Manson’s words will have an influence on the next person to read it and derive some sense of meaning? What can be said is perhaps certain psychologies needed to wear modern clothing to present itself to the next person who may or may not need it.  

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About the Author

Brandon King

Brandon King is a journalism student at OCCC, working towards becoming a professional writer....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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