Monday, June 30, 2008

Book Review: Affluenza - The All-Consuming Epidemic

Since I'm not working, I have more time to read, go through my wardrobe and donate about half of it to charity, cook strange but delicious meals, and save on gas by walking to the library - which is precisely what I did today. I finished Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic by John De Graaf, David Wann, and Thomas Naylor. I loved it, even more than the previous two books reviewed on this blog.

The premise of the book is that Americans suffer from the disease of affluenza: "a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more." Affluenza is divided into three sections. The first details the symptoms of the disease, the second, the causes, and the third, the treatment.

The authors are constantly challenging the status quo in politics, consumerism, travel, media, agriculture and food production, and just about anything else that is difficult to talk about with passion, knowing that Americans value their right to luxury, choice, and perhaps, excess. My three take aways:

1. Living simply doesn't mean living with less, it means being more concerned with authenticity and intangibles.
2. Our society may be "the richest in the world," but one must stop to consider how we measure riches.
3. The US dramatically changed in about 100 years' time, so there is nothing to say that we can't turn it around again.

I would highly recommend this book. I borrowed it from the library, and had to wait three months in a queue! I can only keep it for a total of two weeks, but I've already signed up my mom, sister, and husband to read it in that short amount of time. I'm scanning in pages that I think are too good to forget, and bookmarking all of the websites referenced, for future visits.

If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. -page 133

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