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How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy Hardcover – 9 April 2019

4.2 out of 5 stars 1,168 ratings

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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

Jenny Odell's brilliant How to Do Nothing is the book we all need to read now. With wonderful precision, passion, and artfulness, Odell finds the language to meet this cultural moment. She has written a joyful manifesto about resistance that is also an eccentric and practical handbook on how to reclaim your colonized and monetized attention.--Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others

"Self-help for the collectively minded, How to Do Nothing is as thoughtful and morally serious as it is fun to read. This book will change how you see the world."--Malcolm Harris, author of Kids These Days

"Your chaotic, fraught internal weather isn't an accident, it's a business-model, and while 'thoughtful resistance' isn't 'productive, ' Odell proves that it is utterly necessary."--Cory Doctorow, author of Radicalized and Walkaway

"In a media and tech ecosystem simultaneously obsessed with digital detox and building personal brands, How to Do Nothing is a breath of fresh air grounding readers in the complex, interdependent actual ecosystems of the physical world. Jenny Odell writes with remarkable clarity and compassion. Each chapter reads like going on a fascinating walk through a park in conversation with an old friend (who happens to also be able to tell you about every single bird in the park, which is awesome). It's a book I already know I'll be returning to and referencing for a long time."--Ingrid Burrington, author of Networks of New York

"In How to do Nothing Jenny Odell breaks through the invisible yoke that binds 21st century first-worlders to our app-driven devices. With a thoughtful look at the attention economy, Odell's book is a self-help guide for re-learning how to look at the world. The book braids threads of ancient philosophy together with contemporary visual and technological culture, and weaves an original route to re-wilding the mind. Wide-ranging and erudite, this book is also entertaining, and brings the reader along with enthusiasm to Odell's philosophy of "manifest dismantling." --Megan Prelinger, author of Inside the Machine: Art and Invention in the Electronic Age

Odell introduces the idea that within our world there are endless other worlds; many of the alternatives sound much better. We need only pay attention.--VICE'S Broadly

Book Description

Jaron Lanier meets John Muir in Jenny Odell's HOW TO DO NOTHING, an action plan for political resistance to the attention economy.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ MELVILLE HOUSE (9 April 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 192 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1612197493
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1612197494
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 14.5 x 2.36 x 21.64 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 1,168 ratings

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4.2 out of 5 stars
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5.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air in a confusing world.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 22 May 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air in a confusing world.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 22 May 2019
If you are starting to feel heavy under the weight of current politics, the rapid churn of social media, mental health, trolling, fake news and just the general sense that everything is somehow getting more intense, read this book.

It's not about how to shut yourself off from society and live as a hermit. It's not a bunch of shallow hand-wringing about social media and "kids these days." It's not even a detox or retreat guide. How To Do Nothing is a careful, well-researched look at how we choose to engage with our world and with each other, so that we can find ways to restore nuance, context and a sense of belonging. To do this, Odell investigates everything from history and politics to literature, art, sociology, even bird watching.

Though this book is written in a slightly academic style and the reader may benefit from some knowledge of critical methods or modern philosophy, it's so honest that I believe it would resonate strongly with anyone. I have personally taken a lot from this book and have been thinking about it for weeks since I read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking - but ultimately futile?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 October 2019
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Hande Z
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing is great
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 June 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, but I loved it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 October 2021
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Anne Walsh
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful ode to the value of just watching
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 January 2020
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