You might remember my mention of a way to help book authors combat piracy. It was an idea borne of a simple conversation with a friend, and neither of us had read the book. In fact, at the time of writing that article, I had not read a physical paper book in years. This seemed like a great way to exchange ideas and help the author in our own small way (though, frankly as a bestseller, this book doesn’t need the help). Now that I’ve read it, I wanted to let you know what I think.
First off, it was wonderful. The experience of real paper is really second-to-none and I recommend switching back for a while if you’re a regular eBook reader. I need to do this more often myself. I’m a slow reader too, and I was able to finish this inside of a week, so you can expect an easy, fast read.
As the book’s title says: It’s about not giving a fuck, but the operative words here for Mark Manson are a “Subtle Art”. The key to this is giving a fuck about the “right things” and not giving a fuck about the rest. This is where he kind of turns things on its head and – as you might expect – makes you see that giving a fuck is good if channelled into what helps you. This is not what the title suggests; namely, a way to just go through life hating everything.
The first few chapters of this book really hit you with the fucks too. It’s almost as if every other word is fuck. This does eventually calm down, but you know that Manson has no problem being a potty mouth, and I feel it makes him seem more authentic. This book is really trying to make you feel like Mason is an everyman, and for the most part, I think it succeeds (not knowing his back story or having read his prior books).
Along the way, there are many wonderful insights here. He’s very clear about the idea of chasing happiness (and how stupid that is). His thoughts on entitlement are clean and refreshing. Though, for me, some of this elicits a feeling of “I already know that”, and I imagine you’ll get that too. That’s ok because, with this book, the journey is worth it. It’s not earth-shattering, but like a great conversation with a friend, helpful.
A good portion of this seems to be informed by where Manson is at this particular point in his life. He seems to have just married and is thinking about a family. His sort of wispy attitude is probably drawn from that. I imagine this book would look different after his divorce (if it were to happen). Later in the book, Manson appears to get very personal and even sort of fantastical, and that’s ok too.
All told, the Subtle Art feels short and to the point. Many of these insights people should see more of and take to heart (in the West). As Manson says about his invented superhero The Disappointment Panda:
“..all the greatest truths in life are usually the most unpleasant to hear…Disappointment Panda would be the hero none of us would want, but all of us would need”
Manson wants to deconstruct that stupid and entitled self you’ve built up and put you on the track to give a fuck about better and more important things. This is good as a matter of perspective. It’s not that people are broken, but with these philosophies, they’ll live better.
If you’re looking for a self-help book, however, I don’t think this is going to fit the bill. This is more of a book about becoming enlightened, and less about how to “lose weight” or “find your inner peace”. Also, many seem to know Manson as a successful blogger. I’ve not read much of his blog, but if you come to this book looking for tips on how he found success doing that, you’ll be disappointed. Mark calls himself an Author. Thinker, and a Life Enthusiast, though most of his recent blog posts are either clickbait or behind a subscriber/paywall. This is not a person I would seek out just for those reasons alone.
So, go you’ll have to go into this book with an open mind expecting something fairly easy to read and you’ll be pleased. It packs some great insights and is a worthy read. There are many things Manson can teach you here if you let him. I’d recommend this book to almost anyone as a great read. On a side note, reading this also makes me feel like I could write a book too, go figure.