"A complex, smart and ambitious book that at first reads like a self-help manual, then blossoms into a wide-ranging political manifesto."—Jonah Engel Bromwich, The New York Times Book Review
One of President Barack Obama's "Favorite Books of 2019"
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY: Time • The New Yorker • NPR • GQ • Elle • Vulture • Fortune • Boing Boing • The Irish Times • The New York Public Library • The Brooklyn Public Library
Porchlight's Personal Development & Human Behavior Book of the Year
In a world where addictive technology is designed to buy and sell our attention, and our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity, it can seem impossible to escape. But in this inspiring field guide to dropping out of the attention economy, artist and critic Jenny Odell shows us how we can still win back our lives. Odell sees our attention as the most precious—and overdrawn—resource we have. And we must actively and continuously choose how we use it. We might not spend it on things that capitalism has deemed important … but once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress.
Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we read so often, How to do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, this book will change how you see your place in our world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jenny Odell is an artist and writer who teaches at Stanford and has been an artist-in-residence at places like the San Francisco dump, Facebook, the Internet Archive, and the San Francisco Planning Department. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, The Atlantic, The Believer, The Paris Review, and McSweeney's, among others. She lives in Oakland.
"She struck a hopeful nerve of possibility that I hadn’t felt in a long time." —Jia Tolentino, THE NEW YORKER
"How to Do Nothing is genuinely instructive, elaborating a practical philosophy to help us slow down and temporarily sidestep the forces aligned against both our mental health and long-term human survival. You can knock the hustle — and you should." —Akiva Gottlieb,LOS ANGELES TIMES
"Approachable and incisive. . . . The book is clearly the work of a socially conscious artist and writer who considers careful attention to the rich variety of the world an antidote to the addictive products and platforms that technology provides. . . . [Odell] sails with capable ease between the Scylla and Charybdis of subjectivity and arid theory with the relatable humanity of her vision." —Nicholas Cannariato, THE WASHINGTON POST
"The sentiment behind How to Do Nothing is one of defiance.” —Casey Schwartz, THE NEW YORK TIMES
"An erudite and thoughtful narrative about the importance of interiority and taking time to pay close attention to the spaces around us." —Annie Vainshtein, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
"An eloquent argument against the cult of efficiency, and I felt both consoled and invigorated by it." —Jennifer Szalai, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
"The path to freedom lies within the covers of this book." —Lauren Goode, WIRED
"How to Do Nothing mimics the experience of walking with a perceptive and sensitive friend, the kind of person who makes you feel, in your bones, that it’s a miraculous gift to be alive." —Katie Bloom, THE SEATTLE TIMES
"Odell’s great strength as a writer is her ability to convey art’s unique power without overestimating or misstating its social impact. . . . Ultimately, what sets her book apart from self-help is not a less quixotic set of demands but a more life-affirming endgame." —Megan Marz, THE BAFFLER
"Thoughtful, compelling, and practical." —Clay Skipper, GQ
“This is a potentially subversive book. Affirming that we should take more time offline for nurturing our own thoughts (and so our own being) does not sound that new, but here it is so gracefully articulated in irresistible arguments.” —Aurelio Cianciotta, Neural