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Please Unsubscribe, Thanks!

How to Take Back Our Time, Attention, and Purpose in a World Designed to Bury Us in Bullshit


About The Book

Atomic Habits meets The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck in this life-changing guide to freeing yourself from the behaviors, values, and relationships that keep you from being happy.

When the pandemic brought the world to a standstill, author Julio Vincent Gambuto realized a powerful truth: in the pre-pandemic world, Americans were exhausted, lonely, unhappy, wildly overworked and overbooked, drowning in sea of constantly being on the go and needing to buy more, more, more. But when that pressure disappeared, people rediscovered what was important to them. They quit jobs that made them unhappy and moved their families to suburbs. Simple things like outdoor walks replaced gym memberships; home cooking and backyard gardens replaced takeout; less commuting meant more time for family and creative projects; and for perhaps the first time in a long time, people were being honest. Honest about what they wanted, what they believed in. Honest about the problems they were facing within their families, friend groups, workplaces, towns, and society overall.

That honesty, he noticed, had the potential to make the ground shift. It created a capacity for change. But he also knew that it likely wouldn’t last, because the most powerful forces running our world would not allow it to. They wanted control over our clicks, our conversations, our dollars, our work, our votes—our lives. The only way that we could beat those systems, would be to resist the calls to keep moving, and to “go back to normal.” In order to change, we had to unsubscribe.

Now, in Please Unsubscribe, Thanks!, Gambuto gives us a radical blueprint for the ways we can take a deep breath, renew and commit to a life that we really want, individually and collectively, from unsubscribing to emails and automated subscriptions to reevaluating the presence of people and ideas and habits that no longer serve us or make us happy. Infused with the practical advice in James Clear’s Atomic Habits and the humor of Sarah Knight’s The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, this groundbreaking guide helps us focus on where we find joy in our lives and encourages us to toss out what doesn’t bring us joy in this modern world.

Reading Group Guide

1. Please Unsubscribe, Thanks! begins in 2020, when the world was brought to a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, a period during which many people were forced to sit still, reevaluate, and rebuild. What was your experience during those months? Immediately after? Did you step back from certain aspects of your life, or question your habits or outlooks? Did you feel stress? Did you feel relief? What did you learn about your- self? What did you feel you wanted to change in your life and/or in that of your family?

2. In this book, Gambuto takes us through the process of “unsubscribing” from the various commitments, relation- ships, and ideas that keep us and our lives on autopilot and that block us from sources of true satisfaction—but acknowledges that it’s not easy. In fact, it may take a while, or be a practice that you have to return to from time to time. What makes you nervous about unsubscription? What anxieties or fears does the idea provoke? What doubts do you have? How easy or difficult do you think it would be to do this? Are there certain ideas that are easier and more do- able for you?

3. The idea of modern life being “relentless” appears frequently throughout Please Unsubscribe, Thanks! and be- comes one of the main reasons why Gambuto feels compelled to make a change in his life. What in your life feels relentless? It can be as simple as the number of email newsletters in your inbox, or the amount you are expected to travel for work, or the numerous daily demands of having a family.

4. Gambuto was inspired to write his Medium piece, “Pre- pare for the Ultimate Gaslighting” after sensing an emerging narrative of “going back to normal”—but, he thought, what is “normal”? What is “normal” to you? Think about (and list, if you’d like) what you consider to be the “normal” responsibilities you have and/or expectations to which you are held. What does “normal” life feels and looks like to you?

Now, consider that list. Which responsibilities or expectations did you create? Which ones were put upon you? By whom? Which are carried out with joy? Which out of obligation? How do these different categories make you feel, and how do you approach them? If you could get rid of any of the expectations or responsibilities you have on those lists, which would they be?

5. In the opening chapter of the book, Gambuto explains that the American idea of “the pursuit of happiness” is central to our modern struggles with finding balance and getting ourselves off autopilot, because our idea of “happiness” changes as we participate more and more in capitalism and consumerism.

Think about what your idea of “happiness” was at different stages of your life, and what it is now. Has it changed? Have different or new factors been introduced? And what larger forces may have influenced that vision? Where do you get your ideas about what constitutes happiness?

6. Another big theme in Please Unsubscribe, Thanks! is our relationship with technology, and how individual interactions add up to influence balances of power. We live in an age, the author says, of “click-up economics,” a process in which our spending is accelerated and our needs are immediately met, but at the cost of putting disproportionate power in the hands of those governing those systems.

Consider your relationship with technology—what it might offer you and how it might improve your life. Then, consider what power and information you may be giving away through those interactions. Do you agree that there is a larger issue at play, or that it is just the price of living in a modern information age?

7. “The Big Forces”—Big Tech, Big Banks, Big Brands, Big Media, and the Big Parties, which interacts with all of them—are the entities we fight against when we decide to unsubscribe. They rely on our automated behaviors and subscriptions to survive and grow, ultimately keeping us in loops that don’t serve us, or make us happy. Which big force, in your opinion, is the most problematic, or holds the most outsized influence, in today’s world? What are some ways that we can take power back?

8. How we define and sustain relationships, Gambuto argues in this book, has also been impacted by the language and outlooks of the Big Forces. Dating and marriage is an “investment”; people online are “brands” that we follow; colleagues become “work spouses” who know personal details of our home lives. These blurred lines and misapplied definitions have turned human bonding into its own kind of subscription, with terms and conditions of commitment—and it usually means we are spending time and energy on the wrong people.

Turn to page 132 in your book, where there is a diagram of “The Dartboard.” Organize your various interpersonal relationships by the categories it outlines, as they exist now, and organize the rings to reflect their level of importance and influence in your life. Then, create a second dartboard, with the ideal distribution and categorization of those same relationships. What are the similarities between the two? The differences?

9. Our subscriptions within a work environment is a huge part of Please Unsubscribe, Thanks!—and certainly, all of our daily lives. Work is likely the most difficult space to un- subscribe in, because (unless we are a manager or boss or business owner) we don’t always have power as an individual, and work is a financial necessity for many. What options laid out by Gambuto in the work chapter felt helpful and realistic? What are ways that you can adjust your relationship to your job (if that is something you would like to do) without going to extremes? And at what point do you think an extreme might be necessary?

10. Gambuto argues that ideas, notions, personal philosophies, and beliefs are also all subscriptions, and they, per- haps more than anything else, shape our experience as we move through the world. In chapter twelve, Gambuto introduces the “sticky story,” a narrative that stays with you and becomes a central part of your outlook, and the author encourages a repositioning of those stories to understand which might be helpful and which might be harmful. What is your stickiest story? How has it motivated you, helped you, formed you—or maybe held you back? And what subtle or significant changes can you make to that narrative to make sure it’s serving you well?

11. “The Dark Well” is the period after the unsubscribe, a time of transition and realignment when everything settles in. Whether or not you have embarked upon your un- subscription process yet, or reached the Dark Well, what seems to you like it would be the hardest thing to lose and/or sit without? What could you replace it with? How might you best cope with not having it?

12. There is great opportunity for individual renewal in “The Great Unsubscribe,” but Gambuto explains that, if everyone came together in that experience, we could create collective change as well. What do you think we are most in need of as a family, school, work, local, national, global community, and how do you think unsubscribing could help?

13. If you have gone through a process of unsubscription: how do you feel now? What were the hardest parts, and what surprised you as being perhaps a little bit easier to let go of? If you haven’t embarked on the journey quite yet, what are you hoping to accomplish?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. In the spirit of Please Unsubscribe, Thanks! commit to being fully present during your book club meeting and discussion. Put everyone’s phones in a bowl or in a stack on a table on the other side of the room (ringers can be on, if someone needs to be reachable), and don’t touch them until everyone is ready to go home.

2. Have an “unsubscribe” portion of your gathering. Before everyone leaves, retrieve your phones or devices and, together, unsubscribe from any email distribution lists or social media accounts that no longer serve you—and celebrate that first step!

3. Use your book club as an accountability group. After you read and discuss Please Unsubscribe, Thanks!, continue to discuss the impact of unsubscribing or reprioritizing your commitments, and share with your fellow members how these decisions have impacted your life. Inspire one another to do more, and support one another if things get difficult.

About The Author

(c) Maggie Shannon

Julio Vincent Gambuto is the author of the viral essay series “Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting,” which sparked a world-wide conversation reaching more than 21 million readers in twenty-nine countries. A moviemaker by trade and training, Julio has written, directed, and produced film and television content for The New Yorker, Nickelodeon, PBS, E! Entertainment, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Beta Films, Stone & Company, and Kerner Entertainment. He is a graduate of Harvard University and earned his MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he was an Annenberg Fellow. Prior, Julio worked as a marketing communications writer and consultant, and cofounded TAYPE—an after-school arts program for LGBTQ+ teens. He lives in New York City. Please Unsubscribe, Thanks! is his debut book. Learn more at  

Product Details

  • Publisher: Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster (August 8, 2023)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668009543

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Raves and Reviews

“An extraordinary book. Simultaneously hilarious and deadly serious, Please Unsubscribe, Thanks! connects the dots to show how our time and attention got hijacked—and offers brilliant practical advice for seizing this unusual moment in history to build the saner, more joyful and meaningful lives that too often feel just out of reach.” —Oliver Burkeman, New York Times bestselling author of Four Thousand Weeks

“A potent slice of social commentary and strategic advice on reclaiming valuable time and personal joy. . . . Gambuto’s enthusiastic delivery and practical self-help tactics will remind readers that significant internal work is necessary to clear out the clutter, making room for beneficial relationships in real life and online. Witty and passionately written, the book shows that ‘there actually is time to process your life’ once you eliminate seductive inbox offers, opt-in links, premium memberships, and toxic ‘people subscriptions.’ It all starts with the ‘deeply gratifying’ process of cutting the subscription cord and being wholly present for renewal with oneself and communion with others.” —Kirkus Reviews

“These years have left so many of us reeling and wondering: Where do we go from here? In Please Unsubscribe, Thanks!, Julio Vincent Gambuto offers answers. And energy. And hope. He recognizes the gravitas that this transformative time in the world demands and he approaches it with empathy and humor and practical solutions to help us cut out the bullshit and be happier, healthier, and more purposeful going forward. I need this book in my life and so do you.” —Sarah Knight, New York Times bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

“What Marie Kondo did to your closet, Julio Vincent Gambuto will do to every other part of your life—and to your heart. You will be transformed. Joy and fulfillment await you on the other end. Please Unsubscribe. Thanks! will make you question why you didn't unsubscribe earlier.” —Ali Wenzke, author of The Art of Happy Moving: How to Declutter, Pack, and Start Over While Maintaining Your Sanity and Finding Happiness

“Julio Vincent Gambuto is a necessary and urgent voice for our turbulent times. His essay Prepare for The Ultimate Gaslighting was a clarion call for change: individual and collective. I first read it during those dark, early days of the pandemic when the prospect of a return to normalcy seemed both dim and distant. I've read it several times since; it is more relevant now than ever, as we are starting the slow, strange return to ‘normal’. . . . His prose is a rare bird indeed, combining intellectual rigor with th common sense of the Staten Island that we both grew up on. Julio has something to say and knows how to say it.” —Eddie Joyce, author of Small Mercies

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