Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper. The Barnes & Noble Podcast goes between the lines with today’s most interesting writers, exploring what inspires them, what confounds them, and what they were thinking when they wrote the books we’re talking about.
In 2016 blogger and writer Mark Manson published a book based on some of the advice he’d been giving on his blog, and he gave it the eye-catching title The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. This bracingly brash guide to living a radically honest life became an instant New York Times Bestseller and a global phenomenon. And no wonder, since behind that attention-getting title Manson authored a potent meditation on a society defined by anxiety and the mirage of contemporary happiness. Now, Manson returns with a new book that offers a familiar approach but a new wrinkled. With Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope, Manson looks more deeply at the sources for modern discontent and takes readers on a tour of ideas both ancient and strikingly modern, ideas that add up to nothing less than a philosophy of life. Mark Manson spoke to us recently by phone about finding himself in possession of most writers dreams — a wildly successful book — and the surprise of what happened next.
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We live in an interesting time. Materially, everything is the best it’s ever been—we are freer, healthier and wealthier than any people in human history. Yet, somehow everything seems to be irreparably and horribly f*cked—the planet is warming, governments are failing, economies are collapsing, and everyone is perpetually offended on Twitter. At this moment in history, when we have access to technology, education and communication our ancestors couldn’t even dream of, so many of us come back to an overriding feeling of hopelessness.
What’s going on? If anyone can put a name to our current malaise and help fix it, it’s Mark Manson. In 2016, Manson published The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, a book that brilliantly gave shape to the ever-present, low-level hum of anxiety that permeates modern living. He showed us that technology had made it too easy to care about the wrong things, that our culture had convinced us that the world owed us something when it didn’t—and worst of all, that our modern and maddening urge to always find happiness only served to make us unhappier. Instead, the “subtle art” of that title turned out to be a bold challenge: to choose your struggle; to narrow and focus and find the pain you want to sustain. The result was a book that became an international phenomenon, selling millions of copies worldwide while becoming the #1 bestseller in 13 different countries.
Now, in Everthing Is F*cked, Manson turns his gaze from the inevitable flaws within each individual self to the endless calamities taking place in the world around us. Drawing from the pool of psychological research on these topics, as well as the timeless wisdom of philosophers such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, he dissects religion and politics and the uncomfortable ways they have come to resemble one another. He looks at our relationships with money, entertainment and the internet, and how too much of a good thing can psychologically eat us alive. He openly defies our definitions of faith, happiness, freedom—and even of hope itself.
With his usual mix of erudition and where-the-f*ck-did-that-come-from humor, Manson takes us by the collar and challenges us to be more honest with ourselves and connected with the world in ways we probably haven’t considered before. It’s another counterintuitive romp through the pain in our hearts and the stress of our soul. One of the great modern writers has produced another book that will set the agenda for years to come.