What do you say when people ask what you’ve ‘been up to’ at the moment? Is it ‘nothing’? It seems likely. (Unless you are parenting / homeschooling whilst also trying to work, in which case the answer is ‘everything’ and you have our sympathies). But is it really nothing? Or are you scrolling, compulsively and endlessly, flicking between the news and social media and listicles all day as though you’ve been tasked with reading the entire internet? If you want to know how to really do nothing, then we’ve got just the book for you.
January’s book of the month is the aptly titled How to Do Nothing. Here, Jenny Odell critiques the technological and media forces vying for our attention, and makes a case for resistance. She urges us to rethink the capitalist push for productivity, monetisation and personal branding, and argues that in our current society nothing can be quite as radical as doing nothing at all. Odell brings in musings on art, literature, film and philosophy alongside personal stories to illustrate her point; that our lives are not commodities or merely blocks of time to be optimised.
Unsurprisingly, the hardback edition of How to Do Nothing was a bestseller. The way things are going, 2021 is a great year to turn off the tech and really, truly, learn to do nothing at all.
Check out the praise for How to Do Nothing below:
‘Odell’s nuanced look at the attention economy and how to master it is a must.’ – Evening Standard
‘The new guide to refocusing on the real world… [Odell] wants to give readers permission to be a human, in a body, in a place.’ – The Guardian
‘A beautiful book about reclaiming space for thought and reflection amid the chaos of the attention economy.’ – The Irish Times
‘Thoughtful, compelling, and practical.’ – GQ
As bookshops across the UK face renewed restrictions, they need your help to stay afloat.