Book Review: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck

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Title: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck
Author: Mark Manson
Publisher: Harper Collins; Int edition (19 January 2017)
Genre: Self-help/Personal Development
Price: Rs. 311 on Amazon
Pages: 224

I'm going to be honest here, the first thing that works for this book is its title. If three million copies of this book has been sold this date, the title is the sole reason. That sure is enough reason for most people to pick it up. I have never read a self-help book until now as I find it to be quite preachy and annoying to the point of getting me to loathe my own life. Like many others, I too succumbed to the catchy title of this book and bought it. The happy orange cover does the trick too. It promises to be young, quirky and genuine. So, does it live up to what it promises?

“Fuck positivity, Let’s be honest; sometimes things are fucked up and we have to live with it.” 

“Not everyone can be extraordinary - there are winners and losers in society, and some if it is not fair or your fault."

“The path to happiness is a path full of shit heaps and shame."

“Life is essentially an endless series of problems. The solution to one problem is merely the creation of another."

“This book doesn’t give a fuck about alleviating your problems or your pain."

Most of the book comprises of sentences like these. The author uses his life as an example in the book and talks about figuring out what you want in life and how to get there. It makes you take a look at the things and situations in your life and makes you realize the obvious that you had clearly missed for some reason. It makes you take a look at your priorities and the things you value in life. It makes you want to slow down and re-look at things and implement it in a way that might work for you. The author cleverly uses every turn in his life as a chapter here and forcefully extracts a lesson from it. Quoting Bukowski multiple times to dwelling into the life of The Beatles and Romeo and Juliet, he brings out many points on how one should perceive life. The author believes that his life changed when his friend, Josh, decided to jump off a cliff! He clearly divides his life into the before and the after of this incident. But, this is my argument. Do we always need a tragedy to learn something from life? Mistakes are the best teachers, no doubt. But does one always need a earth-shattering event to take a deep hard look at life?

The author cleverly disguises his autobiography as this self-help book. He talks about his achievements and conquests with pride. I agree it does take a lot of guts to drop out of a good course and decide to start an Internet business (as he calls it). But when you come from a privileged family, does that ever matter? I too wanted to do a lot of things with my life when I was younger. But the need of the hour in my family was for me to take up a job and fend for them. That is exactly what I did. Ten years later, I'm very successful at what I do and I couldn't be more happier. While my passions and interests have still continued as hobbies, my work will always be my priority because of what I have seen in my growing up years. When you come from a family that is well settled and luxurious, it sure does become easy to follow ones dream and do and not do anything. Yes, the author was jumping into uncertainty while doing this. But, he was jumping from a well loaded and cushioned base.

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Having said that, the book does cover a few interesting topics. Like a certain Jimmy he mentions who is a pot-head and yet believes that he is the doing the world a favor by just existing. He's a pot-head, alright! He doesn't move a finger and yet expects everything to come to him. I know such people in real life. People who don't bother to do anything for themselves or for others and yet expect all the luxuries in the world. Such people, you need to stay away from. The authors quotes many examples like this and does convey some really good points. But, every page is copiously slathered with the F-word and it come across as so contrived! Actually, the topics he talks about are really interesting, but unfortunately for him, he tries to justify the title of the book with every page that it becomes so monotonous and after sometime you seriously would not want to give a f*ck about what he has to say.

While the book is a decent approach to the human mind and behavior, soon the book becomes all about the life of the author. The number of women he slept with to the number of countries he visited, the book becomes a vehicle for him to talk about his success story. The funny part is, he is the one who says that success should not be measured by these qualities and you cannot ignore the hint of pride with which he talks about these achievements. Touted to be 'A Counterintuitive Approach To Living A Good Life', the example here is clearly the good life of the author and how much it helps others, is very questionable. Yes, the books hits hard, it is raw and brash and makes you revisit episodes of your life, but how much of that is helpful? Your guess is as good as mine.


Verdict: Like I said before, the only thing that works for this book is the title. If you want to read the story of a privileged man following his dreams and making a good life with the base of an already better life, read this.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

22 comments:

  1. He he, the review I needed. Skipping this one for sure. Thanks, Soumya :)

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    1. You will definitely not like it, I know :)

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  2. I had heard this book was terrible, but to disguise a memoir as a self help book is really conceited. Thanks for the review, I'm skipping this one.

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  3. I hate reading books with too much fuck fuck hahaha

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    1. If it is used in the right way, it might have been quite funny. But it clearly was not!

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  4. Contrary to popular choice the title quite put me off. And then there was the fact that this is a self-help book, which like you I'm not really into. So this was a no-no for me. Your review reinforced what I thought of it to begin with.

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  5. There is nothing wrong for the author-to drape a book with colorful cover and catchy title to increase the sales.But the worth of the book would be exposed sooner or later by reviews like this.What I liked in this post is your format of review and the great writing.

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    1. Nothing wrong at all, as long as it lives up to what it promises. But this one doesn't.

      Thank you KP Sir.

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  6. We have taken this f word too far. I cannot tolerate it anymore. Not a fan of self help books. They do sound very preachy. Loved your review though, on point and honest. I agree, this book sold millions of copy just because of the title. Atleast he got that right.

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    1. Oh yes, it sure has! Hahaha, well, something had to work for him :P

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  7. Nope, I don't want to read it! Thanks for the review, Soumya!:P

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  8. I found the title very interesting and a bit annoying too. If it's going to let me revisit some chapters of my life, and give me a better perspective, I will think about reading this. Too much of the F word is not for me. Very good review, Sou..

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    1. Better perspective, yes.

      Thank you, Jay!

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  9. After our conversation on FB, I am pretty sure I am not reading this one. I still enjoyed reading your review. Seriously, wrapping your memoir as a self-help book is very lame.

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    1. Thank you, Rachna. You have made a wise decision for sure :)

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  10. Nope. Never going to read this one! As you said, I cannot read self-help books and the title acted like click bait for many, you know. Thanks for the honest review. :)

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  11. I have read mixed reviews about this book. No, more negative reviews than the positive ones. Agree with you that the title will certainly make you pick this book up. But, am not doing it. Thanks for a balanced review!

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    1. Good choice, Shilpa. I wish I hadn't fallen bait to this.

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