How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
"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
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.
She struck a hopeful nerve of possibility that I hadn’t felt in a long time."—Jia Tolentino, THE NEW YORKER
"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