Book notes: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

This is part two in a project to review/respond to one book per week. By and large it will only include books I am reading or have read recently enough that they’re still stacked in a currently-reading-pile. Everything will be high level, mostly first impression, and hastily written.

This week’s book: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson.

Or, as I described to a friend: “Buddhism for Stevedores” (apologies to actual Buddhists. And stevedores.)

This is a self-help book.

Self-help books have a worse batting average than business books. But it’s a self-help book that uses the word “fuck” a lot. And even if it’s not a home run it’s at least a single, which is a lot better than it sounds.

Confession time: I didn’t read the book. A friend who recommended the book was listening to the audio version. I listened to the audio version, too. Actually, that’s not entirely true, I listened to the audio version of a summary of the book. We compared notes and I think that was a better deal.

So what’s the book about? Distilled Buddhist thinking, logotherapy, etc.

Life is sometimes bad. You won’t always be happy. You’d be better off if you accepted more of this. Pick the things to care about and stop giving a fuck about things you don’t need to give a fuck about. Just like 10,000 self help books might say, you’re not a terrible nothing, but those books are also wrong, you’re not a special winner who just needs to shine. You can shine, alright, but shining is a byproduct of working at something else.

And in the vein of the existensialist, ultimately you need to take some responsibility for what happens to you. Even if you aren’t responsible for what happens to you.

There’s nothing new here but that’s fine. It’s a good synthesis of related ideas and a good refresher.

I heartily recommend listening to the audio summary.