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An IKEA catalog has found its way inside author Eula Biss’ house. It boasts a message on its front: “Designed for people, not consumers.” Biss, who has just purchased her first home, thinks about this. “IKEA, the third largest consumer of wood in the world, has made furniture into something that gets used up,” she writes. “It is furniture for the apocalypse.” She considers the catalog’s message and wonders: Are consumers not people? It’s a question central to her collection of sharp and snappy essays about capitalism and privilege, and how both relate to our understanding of class. Having and Being Had picks apart the ethics behind our capitalist society, culminating in a powerful look at the ways in which we assign value to the people, places and things that comprise our lives.

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