I picked up both books simultaneously – ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’ and ‘Everything is F*cked’. Fortunately, I was also able to read them in succession. Notwithstanding the roaring success of both books - the first one I believe did better – undoubtedly the title of the books somehow appear to me to be arrogant and somewhat depressing respectively. It is only as I pored through ‘The Subtle Art’ that I realized there is nothing subtle at all – it is in fact crude and vulgar which I guess appeals to most people whose language and articulation these days seem to be incomplete without the use of expletives or simply rude words.
‘The Subtle Art…’ claims that it is a ‘counterintuitive approach to leading a good life.’ The author is extremely clever – in fact he appeals to the reader who is sick of the ‘be a great human being’ books that perpetually tell him to raise his performance to a level that all the illustrative examples in the book do – who therefore picks up the book. At last the reader has something that he really would like to believe – why should he give a f*ck about anything. After tricking the reader with his language in the first few pages of the book, it emerges that it is actually a book about values.
Essentially, the book tells us to set our priorities right (much like my own book ‘The Busyness Age’) and focus on things that matter the most to us, whilst letting go of everything else. The book had many parallels to my own – except that it was far more cleverer, was given the nod by a great publisher and marketed brilliantly. Whereas my own book would have far more tools to equip every office worker in actually setting out to achieve the priorities and keep away from distractions as compared to Manson’s book – the language, content, wit, and contemporariness of Manson’s book is far greater.
Manson’s brilliant book goes against the over-hyped aspects of ‘positive thinking’, ‘extraordinary living’ and ‘happiness seeking’. However, it is not a practical guidebook to choosing what’s important as ‘The Busyness Age’ is. It is a brutally honest look at oneself and a much-needed reality check on our aspirations, expectations, fears and tribulations.
Well, if one doesn’t call it a self-help book, what does one call it? I would call it an inspirational book, about living life fully based on our values and with a sense of purpose. The negativity that the book exudes is misleading, it is just clever so as to not ‘follow the herd’ of other similar books. It is a book that talks about accepting yourself as you are and accepting your dreams – which do not need to be grandiose or complex. It is about embracing the problems that life has cast upon you whilst yet striving to create goals and fulfil them.
The ‘sequel’ to the first book has a bold subtitle, “A Book About Hope”. If the first book was about our own individual flaws and accepting them, the second book is about the flaws in the world around us – where nothing is right. The materialistic world is full of calamities and nothing ever seems to be right.
A book about hope appears to be a book about despair! The vulgarity pours over from the first book even as the outrageous humour seems to have taken a back seat. And in the end, after reading 230 odd pages of erudition, psychological research and timeless wisdom from some of the greatest philosophical minds, it tells us nothing more than to face this world of misery, anxiety and stress with inner peace, happiness and hope. If I enjoyed reading the first book, the second one could have been given a miss.