I Want That: How We Became Shoppers is a book that explores the culture of consumption from various perspectives such as power, responsibility, discovery, self-expression, insecurity, attention, belonging, celebration, and convenience. The author, Thomas Hine, delves into the desires and rituals that have made us all shoppers in one sense or another.
The book examines how shopping is not just a casual activity for most Americans but a deeply human act that addresses perennial questions such as what to feed our families, how to clothe them, what tools are needed to survive and prosper, how to present ourselves to the world, and how to express our deepest beliefs. Hine posits that shopping has a firm place in humanity’s history, allowing people to show their position in society and gain a sense of personal control over their surroundings.
The book also highlights the negative aspects of shopping, such as the wastefulness of our culture of consumption and how it distracts us from pursuits that might be more rewarding. However, Hine refrains from assigning a positive or negative judgment and instead delivers a balanced and entertaining analysis of how we arrived at our shopping-drenched state and what those ringing cash registers really say about us.
Useful takeaways from the book include:
- Shopping is a deeply human act that addresses perennial questions.
- Shopping has a firm place in humanity’s history, allowing people to show their position in society and gain a sense of personal control over their surroundings.
- Shopping can be burdensome or joyous, eliciting guilt and pride.
- The negative aspects of shopping include the wastefulness of our culture of consumption and how it distracts us from pursuits that might be more rewarding.
What I Liked
Brilliant book, very readable. It’s also very useful since it gave me a mental toolkit to think about why I want what I want.
What I Did Not Like
Nothing – solid, useful nonfiction.