First let me say that I am duly impressed by all those persons I follow that can do a post like this every week. I won’t bother to make excuses, we are all busy, but rather embrace that I read through these books that I was keen to read and at a pace that I enjoyed.
I have occasionally wondered to myself, how do I feel about the fact that one of my favourite pastimes is essentially a niche form of shopping? And now that I have started sharing my love of charity shopping through my Trifles & Treasures identity, this question has been nagging me more often.
It was time to go to the shelves – the library shelves in this case. I wasn’t exactly sure what I would find in terms of relevance and current content but I was pleasantly surprised by what I was able to take home and read over the last two weeks.
Consumed – How Shopping Fed the Class System
Harper Collins, 2013
This was by far my favourite read of the three. It was an easy read with some classic British self deprecating humour (a fairly common Canadian trait as well) and had me reading particularly interesting passages out to Bryan. It examined the history of consumer culture and trends in Britain roughly following the period from the Second World War up to today. Having been an expat in London for the last 5 years I was able to recognize most of the brands, labels, places and people he was discussing as well as the categories or “classes” of people he was referencing, but also learn a great deal about the history behind those brands, labels, places and groups of people in a context that speaks to most of us – where we put our money. It really is a unique type of history book and I would recommend snapping up a copy if you come across it. This might actually make a great summer beach read.
Not Buying It – My Year Without Shopping
Simon & Schuster UK, 2006
This book caught my attention because the author, Judith Levine was essentially exploring exactly what I was wondering about myself. Am I spending/buying too much? It is a bit dated and she is an American journalist living in the US without any children but I still found her personal account an interesting read. She does something I don’t think I could do, spend a year getting by on basic foodstuffs and personal toiletries, in an effort to better understand her own consumer identity and impulses. She includes a good deal of economic, philosophical and marketing research in her accounts as well giving the reader the opportunity to do some of their own self reflection.
Must Have – The Hidden Instincts Behind Everything We Buy
Of the three books I brought home from the library, this was by far the most academic and most challenging for me to read. It was fascinating in parts (I admit I didn’t read this one from cover to cover) and certainly addressed the power behind the marketing, advertising and media of which we are constantly inundated. It did focus a great deal on our basic human instincts and discussed our biological makeup in greater deal that I believe I was able to appreciate.
My favourite part of the book was in fact the Exercises for the Reader in the back of the book. Even before reading a few of the sections I enjoyed the thoughtful process of completing the exercises. In fact, I may have gained more from the reading having completed the complementary exercises.
My conclusion – After spending this past fortnight reading about spending and consumer culture I have decided to let my enjoyment of Charity Shopping be. I don’t take everything that tickles my fancy home, I take my trifles to the shops to become treasures to another and I get a great deal of enjoyment browsing and hunting and taking home treasures for myself and my family.
As a charity shopper and donor I understand the need to go through periods of seeking out treasures with fervour and then purging the home of items destined to be treasures discovered by another. This balance between our possession inbox and outbox was being mirrored in the more creative side of my life. While I am enjoying my new web based identity through my Trifles & Treasures blog, Facebook page and Instagram presence it is proving a more challenging endeavour than I originally thought. And it obviously requires me to be creating creative output and I realized that I was going through a period of craving input.
My new challenge is finding a better balance between input and output on a more regular basis. My first specific goal to try and help me with this balance is to continue with “What I read this fortnight” looking at topics that keep me engaged about the charity shopping lifestyle.
Happy (perhaps guilt free?) hunting everyone.