Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy by Sarah Lazarovic

In A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy, Toronto artist Sarah Lazarovic rethinks her buying habits and her attitude towards owning material goods. Paintings and hand-lettered text make a charming memoir-cum-meditation on consumerism.

Two-page spread from A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy

The two-page spread above is a good example of Lazarovic's witty style and judicious use of quotes from other sources. "Writing recently in Scientific American, Sonya Lyubomirsky says that one of the most effective ways to achieve happiness through money is to spend on small pleasures instead of big-ticket items." I'm sorry that my photo is fuzzy; the text on the bottom right (next to "After") says "flowers/$3." I love the way the blue wash spreads across to the lefthand page, visually linking the rectangle of the text box to the two images of rectangular furniture in a pleasing, sturdy tripod. The smiley handle on the chest of drawers makes me smile, too.

The entire essay, with illustrations, can be viewed online here, but it is such a sweet, small-format hardcover to handle in its physical form. It is the size that I think of as a gift book - the size for impulse purchasing - which in itself offers a certain amount of irony. In any case, it would make a lovely gift. If it is for someone who has been talking about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, even better.

In her annotated bibliography, Larazovic includes titles I've previously reviewed: The Thoughtful Dresser (Linda Grant) and Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (Elizabeth Cline).

Readalike: for another whimsical illustrated essay/memoir, try My Favorite Things (Maira Kalman). For another personal exploration into consumerism, I suggest Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping (Judith Levine).

PS - I would like to thank the inimitable Shelagh Rogers and her CBC podcast, The Next Chapter. That is how I first heard about this book, and about many more Canadian titles too. Love that show!

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