We've often groused about our hyper-consumer culture -- usually as we've tossed another 16-pack of paper towels into our cart at Costco. What is it, exactly, about shopping that is so good... even though we know it's so bad?
Paco Underhill goes a long way towards answering that question in his book Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. There's a lot here that will give you pause the next time you're in the supermarket and about to grab that unbeatable deal on the endcap (you know, the thing that's not on your list, but you really need anyway.)
But beyond the explanations of studies of consumer behavior, there's a more reflective message: shopping is one of the few things we do that lets us engage with the world with all of our senses. While this is clearly not the point of the book, armed with that knowledge, you can start thinking about alternatives to shopping that give you the same sensorial experience: volunteering; going for a walk in an unfamiliar place; visiting the library.
And speaking of the library, we're betting yours has a copy of Underhill's book so you can read it without spending a dime. But if you've found all this talk about shopping just puts you in the mood to spend, you can also find the book at Amazon for $10.20, or as a paper-free audio book download at iTunes for $18.95, or at Audible, where the non-subscriber price is $20.86.