Monday, March 21, 2016

A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy

A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy / Sarah Lazarovic
New York: Penguin, c2014.
173 p.

I'd heard of this book for a while before reading it -- for some reason I resisted it, thinking it was a KonMari style read, a clear-the-clutter and shame-on-you-for-owning-things kind of book.

I was so wrong.

It's a small book, a pleasing size to hold, and it is a beautifully illustrated book as well, told in pictures and hand-drawn text - a visual essay about not buying stuff. Once I held it I realized I had to read it. It began as an essay (which you can read here, and see her style) and was expanded into a much more heavily illustrated book.

Lazarovic talks about wanting things - another IKEA piece, some pretty bit of fast fashion, and so on - and then waiting, and being conscious of the wanting, but not buying. And it doesn't bring about the end of the world, the not having. Instead, she paints tiny portraits of the things she wanted, owning them in that way. You can get a peek at some of the interior images on Amazon, even if I do hate linking there....

She has some strong points in this book, but they are shared in lovely, non-confrontational ways. Ideas about sustainability, fast fashion, and general overwhelming consumerism; for example, she notes that she'd read that the average American buys 68 new pieces of clothing a year. That seems a lot. I really enjoyed her discussion of quality - how fast fashion is cheap, but it does last for the year that you have it before you buy your next 68 items - and no-one educates their children on "button width or zipper teeth" - so how do you recognize quality, anyhow?

This was a charming, pretty book that I really enjoyed, but I did not buy. Thanks to my library for helping me pick this one up and finally read it.  

Highly recommended to those who are interested in sustainability, or simply in personal essays, and/or illustration. It's the complete package.

Check out Lazarovic's website and blog for a bunch more pretty things, some of which you can even buy. Plus you'll find some good tips on buying more sustainably, or even not at all. 

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Further Reading:

Elizabeth Cline's Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion will also take you into the world of fast fashion, in a much more factual sense, and will make you wonder if you'll ever be able to buy anything new ever again...

This book is a little older, but still a good one - To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? by Lucy Siegle will reveal much about the fashion industry, including how we buy our cheap clothes, as well as manufacturing and labour rights.

13 comments:

  1. I would like to borrow this from the library as well! I have learned when I'm really tempted to buy something that if I step back for a minute, I can usually walk away - even sometimes with books! I really don't enjoy shopping, except in bookstores, so when I finally do force myself out, I can get overwhelmed with all the stuff available. I love the idea of the tiny paintings.

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    1. I am resistant to the minimalist craze - I do like my pretty things. But there's a line when liking pretty things becomes out-of-control consumerism, and I think this book helps a reader find that balance.

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  2. This book may be the start of a new genre, a graphic essay. I liek how you followed the advice of the book, Melwyk. It does sound like a charming book!

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    1. I don't "liek" my typo.

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    2. heehee, didn't notice that until you pointed it out - sounds kind of Dutch :)

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  3. I like the sound of this as well as your additional recommendations. Will have to see if my library has them!

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    1. They are all good reads - and thoughtful ones.

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  4. This book sounds like the way I've been living this year ...wanting things, and writing down what I want, and thinking about if I can afford to buy them, then not buying them after all... and being okay. Can't wait to read this book! :)

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    1. I am going to start writing down/taking a picture of the things I see that I just *want* and have no real need for. Even if they are a bargain! I think that will help reduce the impulse buys - and I'm by no means an active shopper. I still have too many things.

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  5. :) First I had to chuckle at the reference to The Life-Changing Magic book! Then I added A Bunch of Pretty Things to my library list. And I love the idea of writing down or taking pictures of all the things you "want" but have no use for!

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

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    1. I'm not a KonMari convert. In case that wasn't obvious ;) This book, though, charmed its way into my readerly hands.

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  6. This sounds lovely! I love the idea of "collecting" the ideas of things one wants, but not buying them.

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    1. It's kind of amazing how it really does work to curb the purchasing.

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Thanks for stopping by ~ I hope you will leave your comments and reflections to let me know what you think!