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Book Review: "All Consuming" by Neal Lawson

3/5 - not quite the best book I've read on the subject...

By Annie KapurPublished about a month ago • 4 min read
From: Amazon

Oh yes, I am still reading books from other books and again, this is a book mentioned in The Inner Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. I have not only found an extensive reading list for other nonfiction books on modern political philosophies, but I have also found myself becoming a bit of an expert in them as well. Pages of my notebook are covered with notes from different books and I'm trying to link ideas together, especially if they align perfectly with ideas expressed by another author in another book. It's nice to do some critical analysis from a nonfiction viewpoint. I have done it in fiction quite a bit but putting my skills to use in a different sector is quite enjoyable. It has completely subverted my expectations.

The introduction to this book presents itself as a text about turbo-consumerism and how we have been sold dissatisfaction and then sold the cure. Like in Naomi Klein's No Logo, Neal Lawson takes us through the brand method of selling a lifestyle rather than a product, teaching us that we need certain things to feel satisfied. We may not feel satsifed but we will feel out of pocket, which makes us feel sad and so starts the whole cycle again. It is a point of modern philosophy regarding consumerism to make this point and so, I don't find it all that shocking anymore. Though it is interesting to see it agaonst the backdrop of the financial crisis of 2008. It is a different take to Klein's earlier book which sets us against the turn of the century with the 10th anniversary edition looking at some extra analytical points.

The one thing that I have to say annoyed me about this book is the writing style. It reads like one of those mega-church speeches and after a while, the novelty really wears off. I'm trying to read a piece of research, not a battle cry of collective experience. The "we are being told..." and "we are being sold..." reads like a Fight Club fanboy wrote a Tyler-Durden-esque Vogue article. I was not impressed by this in the slightest. I was more glad at the fact that the author made some good points rather than the way he wrote them down.

From: The Gaecologist

Apart from that, I found the topics interesting within. The one topic I probably found the most interesting concerned the commodification and commercialisation of childhood and the author mentions how there is bodies of evidence relating to the psychological detriment of putting value on purely the material things in life. The author goes through how the sexualisation of a girls' childhood through play such as Barbie and how this has had a massively negative consequence on the mental wellbeing of young girls who now, are having makeup parties and are raised to act much older than they actually are.

The latter part of the book deals with ideas like 'ethical shopping' and how we can overcome the great consumerist machine and though I have to say that there is far less time and effort dedicated to these chapters than basically telling us what the problem is - this part is written a bit better than its predecessor. But I can definitely tell how old this book is as in one of the sentences it makes Boris Johnson (then, Mayor of London) look like he's on the right side of history. It may just be one sentence but it did give me a giggle about the irony.

Another point of the book I found quite interesting was called 'the tyranny of choice'. The idea of the illusion of choice in today's shopping has always been of great interest to me. We have more choice for everything and yet, it is still not considered enough. We still have nothing to wear, we still have nothing to eat and we still have nothing to watch. "We want to make the right choice but our brains can't cope with the amount of information if too many options are put before us." (p.135).

One of the things I have to point out that I didn't like about this book again and the thing is probably to do with me instead of the book. I am finding that these arguments are really repetitive and that is within the confines of the book, not over the course of many books. Arguments that become so repetitive that you can kind of predict what's coming next. Honestly, that might be a 'me' problem since I have been reading many of these books lately and I am getting a little bit tired of all the arguments of doom.

All in all, though this book made some good points, it didn't make them in a compelling way. The battle-cry tone at the beginning is really off-putting so that when you do get into the research parts, it becomes quite a negative experience considering what you would have already been through. Many of the arguments are the same as other books that go through them in more detail with a slightly better way. However, there are good points of the book which deal with some pretty ironic situations we have put ourselves in. As a concluding statement, I may grow weary of the argument and it could be written better, but there were still some points of consideration and points of irony that were fun and/or insightful to read upon.

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About the Creator

Annie Kapur

200K+ Reads on Vocal.

Secondary English Teacher & Lecturer

🎓Literature & Writing (B.A)

🎓Film & Writing (M.A)

🎓Secondary English Education (PgDipEd) (QTS)

đź“ŤBirmingham, UK

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Comments (2)

  • Kendall Defoe about a month ago

    The books uses a raised fist instead of a close hug from what I can see here. Most people who need this book will not read it and the problem may continue (I see it everyday when I head downtown to work and see people with too many bags with too many things that they cannot possibly use or enjoy). Thank you for these reviews. My list is growing...

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    Perhaps repeating it over and over like loud mouths until you BELIEVE??

Annie KapurWritten by Annie Kapur

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