Mark Manson’s Not So Subtle No. 1 Best Seller – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Mark Manson’s bestseller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, gives life advice that doesn’t suck. Mark writes in an uncensored and direct way.

Book Review

Table of Contents


Mark Manson writes in a straightforward and uncensored style that comprehends and relates to his readers, many of whom are not usually buyers of self-help/motivational books. This approach has helped, along with his use of colourful language, propel the book to its massive sales and New York Times number one bestseller status. And it has been a phenomenal bestseller with “The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck”, selling over 15 million copies.

Mark Manson’s book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fck, breaks the mould of a typical self-help book by throwing away the idea of the constant need to be positive and feel good. Taking its inspiration from teachings such as Buddhism, Stoicism and even Existentialism, it rejects having a personal sense of entitlement. Instead, it suggests we deal with and accept what happens in our lives. One source of reference for the book’s ideas, discussed in early chapters, is the philosophy of Charles Bukowski.

YouTube video: Mark Manson on why you should stop trying to be happy all the time.

Mark Manson

Mark Manson was born and raised in Austin, Texas, grew up in an affluent family, and then studied at Boston University. Afterwards, Mark became a nomad blogger living overseas, spending many years travelling and roaming the world. He eventually decided to settle down, married and nowadays lives in New York.

Mark Manson, wearing a light blue shirt in a professional photo shoot next to a wrought-iron fence.
Photo: Maria Midoes

There is a complexity to Mark Manson that is apparent in the noticeable contradictions about him. He can be provocative and challenging in his writing and ideas, yet he comes across as approachable and likeable.

Language and Audience

To state the obvious, Mark Manson loves to swear. His use of the F-word has been a trademark of Mark Manson for many years. Of course, the book would work without the F-word, but utilising it delivers the instantly appealing and memorable title. Along with a cover that commands attention on the bookshop shelf. It appears 175 times throughout the book, especially in the early chapters, tapering off towards the end.

While Mark writes to a broad audience, his writing style has a distinct appeal to male and younger audiences. It is a critical audience to reach. The importance of Mental Health issues among males is a chronic and ignored problem in our society. Mark Manson’s book describes how to better deal with life and handle the things it throws at you. He does this using a writing style that is accessible and understandable to this audience.

Mark Manson, wearing a light blue shirt and black casual jacket in a professional photo shoot in a street.
Photo: Maria Midoes

The Book’s Ideas

Mark Manson says the purpose of his book is that “it will help you think a little more clearly about what you’re choosing to find important in life and what you’re choosing to find unimportant.”

Here are some ideas from the book:

  • We have become victims of our success. Our crisis is no longer material; it’s existential and spiritual.
  • Wanting a positive experience is a negative experience.
  • Not giving a f*ck means being comfortable being different.
  • The belief that it’s not okay to be inadequate sometimes is the source of the growing Feedback Loop from Hell that is coming to dominate our culture.
  • Happiness is not a solvable equation. However, thinking that it is, is the problem. Dissatisfaction and unease are inherent parts of human nature.
  • Happiness comes from solving problems.
  • People deny and blame others for their problems because it’s easy and feels good.
  • Emotions are part of the equation of our lives, but not the entire equation. If something feels good doesn’t mean it is good. When something feels bad doesn’t mean it is Bad.
  • You are not Special.
  • Entitled people exude a delusional degree of self-confidence. This confidence can be alluring to others, at least for a while.
  • Failure is the way forward.

Problem with Self-Help Books

One of the critical aspects of this book is that it challenges the central notion of many self-help books. Unfortunately, there is an abundance of fanciful self-help books fueling ideas of:

  • self-indulgence and
  • entitlement.

The presumption is that you can have everything that you want. You have to expect the life you’re entitled to, and then it miraculously materialises. Mark Manson’s book also dismisses the belief that only good things must happen in your life, giving the reader a healthy dose of realism.

YouTube video: Mark Manson on entitlement

Mark Manson’s Website

Mark Manson has a popular website and is exceptionally good at blogging, a master of his craft. I appreciate the understated nature of the layout, the presentation is easy to navigate, and I like the inclusion of an audio version of each post.

Header picture from a blog post 'The Subtle Art of not giving a F' on showing a cat walking away from a fiery explosion.
Photo: Blog post 8/1/2015

I am intrigued by how a bestselling author gets started with his inspiration and ideas. This book began as a blog post. On his website, is the original inception in a post on 8th January 2015 called “The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck”. Additional ideas developed in other posts and ultimately came together as the book.

YouTube video: Mark Manson on making decisions.

Final Thoughts

This book is an enjoyable read, and it is very readable. The style is provocative and engaging. Mark Manson is an ingenious person, and this is a stimulating book that comes together in a way that encourages personal development. I admire how Mark says what he thinks and writes uncensored and direct. It is refreshing nowadays, as there is a lot of censorship of what people say, especially on social and traditional media.

Mark Manson sitting on a stool holding a copy of 'The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck' taken from HarperOne YouTube video.
Photo: Mark Manson

Mark Manson has written a follow-up book titled Everything Is Fcked: A Book About Hope (2019).

HarperCollins publishes The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck (2016).

Why read the book when you can watch the movie?

If you are the kind that would rather watch the movie than read the book. Universal Pictures released a documentary movie about the book and its ideas, featuring Mark Manson, in January 2023 to designated streaming sites. Nathan Prince directs the film, and Matthew Metcalfe is the producer.

Photo: Universal Content Group @subtleartmovie

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