Our Obsession with Possession


A thought-provoking and provocative challenge to consumerism (with plenty of name-dropping and celebrity antics).

Sassy and satirical, Shopomania is an economic, environmental and social study. This light-hearted, dark-souled dictionary of coined words, or “shoponyms,” takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of avaricious antics and outrageous profligacy.

Shopping in one form or another has existed for millennia but, aside from a few slumps, each generation has outdone the previous one. In the past fifty years, shopping—and its associated carbon footprint—has grown exponentially.

Berton argues that if we invented today’s consumer culture, then we can invent something to replace it. We can do a better job of making the cycle of stuff truly circular rather than linear. We can be more environmentally, socially and politically conscious of what we buy and how it comes to us—and where it will go after we are finished with it. A species that has made shopping ubiquitous can figure all these things out with little more than co-operation and creativity, and by asking if it is really necessary to “own it now” as we have been told—endlessly—since childhood. Must we possess a thing to enjoy it? Do we really need all that stuff?


“...the book includes ideas for how people can engage in shopping in a way that is beneficial to humanity and the planet. Shopomania is a reasoned examination of the culture of shopping that uses humor and incisive criticisms to encourage more thoughtful approaches to consumerism.”

- Gail Hoffer-Loibl, <i></i>

"Shopomania is the improvised explosive device that Paul Berton has planted under the concept of shopping in all its forms. More explicitly, he has used surgical tools, corrosive chemicals and a wealth of words like “clandestine” and “limoncello” to destroy our previous regard for humanity’s built structures and made objects. The Adam Curtis of retail, Berton has destroyed my last remaining pleasure in life but isn’t it better to know the truth about our stuff? Isn’t it?"

- Heather Mallick, <i>Toronto Star</i>

"Paul Berton takes readers on a sardonic, frightening and hilarious journey through the world of consumerism. This book is a must-read primer for understanding how our thirst for acquiring and showcasing things has exacted heavy tolls on our psychology, on our society, and on the environment. Cataloguing the symptoms of our shopaholic culture, Berton shares wisdom about breaking the shackles imposed by our possessions."

- Mark Cleveland, PhD, professor and Dancap Chair in Consumer Behavior, University of Western Ontario

"Paul Berton has given us a remarkable gift—a funny and endearing vocabulary for shopping that tells the story of how buying stuff has captured our imagination and shaped our lifestyles. Who knew that a book about shopping would be a page-turner? You’ll be amazed at how much of your own life you see in Berton’s delightful and profound book."

- Alex Sévigny, communications professor, McMaster University

"Paul Berton’s Shopomania is a fascinating and highly entertaining insight into why we shop and the relentless pressure on us to shop. It’s a delightful read, so buy this book! (But no pressure...)"

- Adrian Raeside, author of <i>Wildlife for Idiots</i>