How to Be Idle

How to Be Idle

4.0 3
by Tom Hodgkinson
     
 

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With advice, information, and reflection on such matters as lying in, long lunches, the art of the nap, and how to skive, How to Be Idle gives you all the inspiration you need to take a break from your fast-paced, overworked life.

From the founding editor of the The Idler, the celebrated magazine about the freedom and fine art of doing nothing,

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Overview

With advice, information, and reflection on such matters as lying in, long lunches, the art of the nap, and how to skive, How to Be Idle gives you all the inspiration you need to take a break from your fast-paced, overworked life.

From the founding editor of the The Idler, the celebrated magazine about the freedom and fine art of doing nothing, comes not simply a book, but an antidote to our work-obsessed culture. In How to Be Idle, Tom Hodgkinson presents his learned yet whimsical argument for a new universal standard of living: being happy doing nothing. He covers a whole spectrum of issues affecting the modern idler — sleep, work, pleasure, relationships — bemoaning the cultural skepticism of idleness while reflecting on the writing of such famous apologists for it as Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Johnson, and Nietzsche — all of whom have admitted to doing their very best work in bed.

It's a well-known fact that Europeans spend fewer hours at work a week than Americans. So it's only befitting that one of them — the very clever, extremely engaging, and quite hilarious Hodgkinson — should have the wittiest and most useful insights into the fun and nature of loafing.

Who wouldn't want to blow off work for a day and just "be idle"? The key to a life of pleasure, freedom, and guilt-free lounging around is in your hands.

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Editorial Reviews

USA Today
“A true literary gem... irresistable”
Publishers Weekly
When your alarm clock jolts you awake in the morning, do you wish you could just lie in bed, read a book, sip a cup of tea and be idle all day? Hodgkinson, founder of the Idler magazine, does. And in this book he presents 24 essays defending life's idle pleasures, which are, he says, vilified by our modern society. He meditates on sleeping in, fishing, smoking and drinking, and even waxes poetic about the hangover. The whole book is soaked with nostalgia for the turn-of-the-century English gentleman's lifestyle; Hodgkinson defends his arguments by quoting Jerome K. Jerome, G.K. Chesterton and, of course, that icon of British foppery, Oscar Wilde. Although billed as tongue-in-cheek witticisms about the idle life, the book fails to maintain the comic tone. In his chapter on the evils of the 9-to-5 job ("wage slavery," as the author calls it), Hodgkinson cites Heinrich Himmler as a spokesperson for the defense of work, tacitly comparing shuffling papers in a cubicle for 40 hours a week to the horrors of Auschwitz. The book gives tantalizing anthropological insights into society's views on those lazy habits that the author so enjoys, but the viewpoint is so antiquated and condescending toward the poor slobs who must actually go to work every day that readers will often find themselves staring aghast at the page. B&w line illus. Agent, Cat Ledger. (May 15) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In these stress-filled times of dashing from one meeting to another and often running behind, we should all give ourselves the gift of reading this debut by the founding editor of Idler magazine. Arguing that the modern work ethic enslaves us all and that joy and wisdom have been replaced by work and worry, Hodgkinson insists that we can create our own paradise by defending our right to be lazy. Quoting literature, poetry, and philosophy, he offers a humorous peek at the worth and wonders of slowing down. The chapters are cunningly arranged according to the hours of the day, illustrating that every minute offers opportunities for idleness. Hodgkinson revels in the pleasures of sleeping in, taking leisurely lunches, napping, and other such pursuits. Artfully combining British and American perspectives, this book promises to be just as big a hit here as it was in the United Kingdom. Recommended for most public libraries.-Wendy Lee, Marshall-Lyon Cty. Lib., MN Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An intelligent slugabed, bemoaning the modern world's love affair with productivity, presents 24 meditations on the art of being idle, one for each hour of the day. Hodgkinson, co-publisher of the British magazine The Idler, begins at 8 a.m. with a discussion of the alarm clock and the horrors of waking up in general. (Here, he makes the first of many references to Victorian idler and humorist Jerome K. Jerome, whose essay "On Being Idle" appeared in 1889.) Other topics the author contemplates as the day goes by are "Sleeping In" (John Lennon and Yoko Ono's week in bed), "The Ramble," "The First Drink of the Day" and so on. "The Death of Lunch" is bemoaned. "Smoking" is celebrated. "The Pub" is praised. "Time for Tea" cites a lovely 16th-century Chinese poem that lists occasions on which to drink England's favorite beverage: "Before a bright window and a clean desk. / With charming friends and slender concubines." Each piece addresses the delights of a particular aspect of doing nothing, its literary and social precedents, and the regrettable reasons for its fall from favor. Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution both come in for censure as chief villains; Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed and E.P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class are cited, among countless others. So many others, in fact, that it is nearly impossible to believe the author is a true adherent of his creed. A great amount of (gasp) work must have gone in to researching this paean to the pleasures of doing little; the bibliography alone comprises nearly 150 items. Indeed, with all of these literary citations and closely argued points, How to be Idle becomes rather heavy going after three or foursections. No matter: no idler worth his salt will read it in a single sitting-there's too much fishing, tea drinking and napping to be done. Charming, as all idlers should be.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060779689
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/10/2005
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.38(h) x 1.11(d)

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