Review: ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’

(P.C. the lovely folks over at Ueno Store).

I popped into Urban Outfitters the other day and came across a book called ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’. It’s bright orange cover no doubt helped in getting my attention but this wasn’t the first time that I’d seen the book.

For the last month or so, pictures of this book have been floating around Instagram and so while judging by the book’s title, I might’ve usually dismissed the book as hipster trash, curiosity got the better of me on this occasion and I picked it up.

Two days later, as I sat in the departures lounge about to board my flight, I found myself chuckling as I read my very first self-help book.

I don’t know about you, but as someone who had never before read a self-help book, I was expecting a lot of the “Just smile” and “Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not okay, it’s not the end” rubbish that’s meant to be uplifting.

I couldn’t be more wrong.

 Fuck positivity”, Manson says.

He turns out to be quite the witty guy, and about 20 pages into the book, I’d decided I quite liked this Manson bloke – he was great in fact because he cut the crap and was very straight to the point.

That was 20 pages into the book.

About 50 pages into the book, I realised that yes, whilst I was very much enjoying Manson’s colloquial style of writing, the expletive laden book just wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

All appeal of reading the book had gone and suddenly, finishing the rest of the book felt almost like a chore.

I suspect that one of the reasons that I had lost interest was because some of the steps Manson addresses, for instance, such as how to decide your values, were things that, in my personal growth, I’d already done.

I did complete the book though. And I can’t fault Manson for not providing us with ‘A Counterintuitive Approach To Living A Good Life’, because that’s what he does. He teaches us to economise on our giving of fucks to only that which truly matters.

And how do we work out what really matters? We pick and choose what’s important to us, what’s truly worth giving a fuck about, on the basis of “finely honed personal values”.

Manson’s so helpful that he even helps us begin to think about selecting values and the metrics by which we measure our success. He even gives real life examples of people such as Dave Mustaine and Pete Best (I quite like my Beatles so I was always going to like that bit, to be fair aha 😁).

And yet, it was all still just so very dull.

I think in large, my finding the book dull is to do with the timing in which I’ve read the book. A 16-year-old me could have done a lot more with this book. The 16-year-old Fahmida, like any other insecure teenager, gave a fuck, about a lot of things, a lot of the time.

A few years down the line and I’m a lot lighter. And that is in large part to do with the amount of fucks I give. As it happens, I don’t give very many. And the fucks that I do give have been refined to the opinions of a select few family and friends or maybe, at times, love interests. Other than that, I’m quite relaxed really.

But for the insecure, stressed and anxious teenager who is finding themselves worrying about the opinion of every Tom, Dick and Harry, this is the book for you. (And this is not to fire shots at you if you fall into this category because we’ve all been through the insecure teenager phase). In fact, if you are a teenager, I think that you’re likely to find this book most relatable and it will undoubtedly help you think about your mind-set and most importantly, your values. This will in turn help you work out what you really want to give a fuck about and where you want to direct your energy.

So where do I sit on ‘The Subtle Art of Giving a Fuck’?

I’d rank it a 5.

I’d also tell you that it’s a good book but that it’s nothing new, because while this may have been my first self-help book, I’ve read a good few books on Buddhism/spirituality. And I think that this book is pretty much a book on Buddhism dressed up as a self-help book which has been colloquially written and decorated with expletives left, right and centre such that it appeals to the millennial masses.

That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend the book. I would, but perhaps only to teenagers, for whom the concepts that this book provides, will most probably be new and be a good starting point for shaping the way that one thinks.

Your thoughts?

Maybe I’ve been too harsh. Maybe Manson’s a little genius. I’d be really interested in knowing what you think, especially as this is the first ever self-help book that I’ve read. Leave me a comment down below, or alternatively find me on Instagram: @franklyfahmida 😊

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