How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

Staff Pick

Judging from the title, the premise of Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing (Melville House, $25.99) might seem straightforward. After all, doing nothing seems easy. Images likely flashed through your mind of a lazy day spent reading a book (this bookseller hopes) while putting off your chores until tomorrow. What Odell proposes, however, is a radical reorientation and reclamation of an important human trait: our ability to pay attention. Odell skillfully peels back the veil on what she calls “the attention economy” to show that while seemingly benign, the ultimate purpose of this economy is the monopolization of our attention for its own gain. In the process, our connection with the physical world is diminished. As fundamentally embodied beings, Odell demonstrates that our greatest chance for happiness occurs when we engage directly with each other and with our surroundings. For this to happen people need time and space to cultivate an awareness of the world around them. They need to be able to, seemingly, “do nothing." Odell’s book is not an angry screed railing against the evils of modern society and media. Ultimately, it is a compassionate and hopeful guide on how we can best care for ourselves, each other, and the planet.

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9781612197494
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Melville House - April 9th, 2019

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