The hype is big with this one – which was, if I’m being honest, the main reason why I wanted to pick up “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life”. And I did enjoy this book; but it felt more like a collection of Mark Mansons’ personal thoughts on his own life rather than a “guide” per se. This tends to be my problem with “self-help-books”, they don’t offer you much because everyone’s approach to life is absolutely unique. At least, this author seemed to aware of that fact, but it didn’t make the book better.
Is This Really News To You?
Manson voices thoughts that often seem like common-sense, but apparently need to be heard by a lot more people in society, maybe even for the first time. It’s simple things from encouraging you to reflect on issues like personal values, consumerism, to the ‘you can do anything’-philosophy, happiness or embracing pain. To me, some parts did serve as a reminder of values I had forgotten or neglected, which was quite nice. The entire book feels very… American, though, and recycles many philosophies that have already been established, so don’t expect anything groundbreaking.
At times, Manson’s thoughts were contradictory and difficult to follow; they could’ve done with a bit more editing for clarity. In a physical copy of the book, I would’ve read some passages several times or paused at the questions posed to the reader. When I listened to the audio book, I wasn’t always able to do that and had to let some things slide, but at least the narrators voice was fitting and easy to listen to.
Insensitivity and Self-Help Don’t Go so Great Together
The way Manson dealt with issues like mental health, discrimination, loss and trauma was problematic. I get what he was trying to say: You should make the best choices for yourself in spite of your experiences and not wallow in your pain forever. Still, he could’ve said this with more empathy and better-chosen words. The way he overcomes certain struggles won’t necessarily work for others, and he fails to recognise his privilege as a comparatively wealthy, white man. As such, he isn’t in the position to diminish others’ struggles. I don’t think he meant to do this, but I wish that he had addressed both issues or expressed himself clearer nonetheless.
In the end, we can only take what he put on paper, and that was sometimes insensitive and ill-informed. Especially his stories about being a huge player in his twenties and ‘sleeping with everyone he could’, his characterising one of his acquaintances merely as “the Asian girl” and several other comments left me with the sour feeling that he doesn’t seem to give a fuck about women, feminism and other important issues concerning social structures and discrimination of all kinds. In general, his way of dealing with life seemed to result in taking himself out of every equation, focusing on his own shit and giving no fucks about others. At least he’s honest about it, but I found that neither inspiring nor motivational.
No F*cks From Me – Sorry Manson
While reading up on other reviews, I noticed some people criticising his take on sexual assault trials – which I didn’t hear about at all, so maybe the audio book didn’t include the full content. Looking at his website and gaining a bigger picture of his work did not do Manson any favours either, so that I am left with a bit of a sour feeling and no further interest in his ‘advice’.
td’lr: If you’re interested in “A Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” it doesn’t hurt to give it a chance, but if you are looking for profound advice for a better life, you’re better off with a good book on the philosophy of your choice.