REVIEW: ‘The subtle art of not giving a f*ck’ makes you give a f*ck about the core values of life

It hits you hard like a low door frame to the forehead and once the shock subsides, Mark Manson helps you realise how meaningless life can be without defined core values.

Everything about Mark Manson’s approach to self-help in The subtle art of not giving a f*ck seems wrong. It’s blunt, vulgar and perplexing. For example, he writes ‘if I could invent a superhero, I would invent one called Disappointment Panda’. You think to yourself what? How is that going to help me or anyone else soothe away problems? Surprisingly, you come to realise that the idea is not madness but rather a dunk in ice-cold-water that leaves you stunned then illuminated. Beyond the f-bombs, Manson has eloquently written a book about vales and how we must define good ones in order to live a life of true contentment.

Manson drags you by the ear to make you find something more important than striving to feel good all the time

You are not special

Instead of giving the comfort that many crave during times of difficulty as so many self-help writers do, like telling us how beautiful we are if we just believe it. ‘The subtle art of not giving a fuck’ does the oppositeIt says, ‘you are not special’ and ‘never find yourself.’ Manson drags you by the ear to make you find something more important than striving to feel good all the time. The counterintuitive teachings set us back to zero on the self-development scale. Brutally taking all that we know to be true in a gravity-plummeting-hold-you-to-the-ground style.

Initially, this backwards path causes a whirlwind of chaos in the mind; making the reader question all that they knew to be stable and true in life. The delivery of expression is shocking and comes across as all doom-and-gloom. Until that is, you see beyond the boorishness to the intended grounded meaning. Then suddenly, everything makes sense.

Each of the nine humorous and simultaneously hard-hitting chapters are a set of statements. Here, Manson gives the reader the opportunity to deeply reflect on refined yet all-encompassing points. Drawing upon his own life experience and that of others, he explains how our ignorance has made us lose touch with what is actually important in life. Good values.

Take action

There is no walking away from Manson’s no-nonsense message once absorbed. He gets you thinking. Gets you questioning. And importantly, gets you to take action.


The subtle art of not giving a f*ck

A counterintuitive approach to living a good life

By Mark Manson

204pp. HarperCollins Publishers. €15.94 (hardcover) €14.60 (paperback).


Text: Sara-Jane Vanstone, picture © Sara-Jane Vanstone