Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Book Review: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson is one of the most wildly successful books I’ve ever seen. On Audible, it has nearly 150,000 reviews, beating out the Harry Potter books by a wide margin. In the author’s words, is this book “worth giving a fuck” about? Read on for my thoughts.

Publisher’s Summary

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.

My Thoughts

At its heart, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is about deconstructing our views on how we define happiness, problems, and success, in an effort to provide some clarity and advice for how to improve one’s life. It does so masterfully. From pointing out how we “give too many fucks” about things we “shouldn’t give a fuck about” to pointing out the paradoxical nature of how we determine what is or isn’t a positive or negative experience in life and the effect it has on us — The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is an unrestrained take on the human experience. One of my favorite passages is about fault and responsibility. To paraphrase Mark Manson, it may not be our fault that something bad happened to us, but it’s our responsibility to choose how we react. Powerful stuff! This was my second time reading the book, and I opted for the audiobook version this time, borrowing it from my local library via the Libby app from Overdrive. I enjoyed it even more the second time, maybe because I’m older and, hopefully, more mature, or maybe because I love audiobooks and this one was superb. Either way, this is a book “worth giving a fuck about,” so go read it.

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