In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed

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In the tradition of such trailblazing books as No Logo and The Tipping Point, In Praise of Slow heralds a growing international movement of people dedicated to slowing down the pace of our contemporary times and enjoying a richer, fuller life as a result.

These days, almost everyone complains about the hectic pace of their lives. We live in a world where speed rules and everyone is under pressure to go faster. But when speed is king, anyone or...
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Overview

In the tradition of such trailblazing books as No Logo and The Tipping Point, In Praise of Slow heralds a growing international movement of people dedicated to slowing down the pace of our contemporary times and enjoying a richer, fuller life as a result.

These days, almost everyone complains about the hectic pace of their lives. We live in a world where speed rules and everyone is under pressure to go faster. But when speed is king, anyone or anything that gets in our way, that slows us down, becomes an enemy. Thanks to speed, we are living in the age of rage.

Carl Honore has discovered a movement that is quickly working its way into the mainstream. Groups of people are developing a recipe for living better in a fast-paced, modern environment by striving for a new balance between fast and slow. In an entertaining and hands-on investigation of this new movement, Honore takes us from a Tantric sex workshop in a trendy neighbourhood in London, England to Bra, Italy, the home of the Slow Food, Slow Cities and Slow Sex movements. He examines how we can continue to live productive lives by embracing the tenets of the slow movement.

A challenging take on the cult of speed, as well as a corrective look at how we can approach our lives with new understanding, In Praise of Slow uncovers a movement whose time has come.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The No Logo of its age…. Strangely enthralling, an epiphany for those of us who have forgotten how to look forward to things or enjoy the moment when it arrives.”
The Herald (UK)

“Honoré is particularly good at detailing the addictive properties and vagaries of speed, and its ill effects on individuals and society, including himself.”
The Globe and Mail

“It’s about time someone took issue with the underlying mentality that sets our daily metronome.... Those who savour this hopeful book one chapter at a time will be the biggest winners. It’s seductively crafted in this way ... measuring out its subversive but ultimately healing message.”
Edmonton Journal

“Honoré offers compelling evidence that suggests controlling your own tempo of life is not only a healthier and happier alternative, but leads to a more rewarding and productive lifestyle.”
Toronto Star

"Life is getting faster, no doubt about it. We rush everything: we eat fast food, have quickie sex, drive like maniacs, and compete hard for fast-paced jobs. We wish to slow down and slack off, but we're afraid we'll fail... A London-based journalist, Honoré shows us the benefits of slowness, with chapters on food, transportation, meditation and exercise, medicine, sex, work, and parenting…. This book presents ideas and resources that will be new to most readers and is recommended for both public and academic libraries."
Library Journal Review

"A former 'speedaholic,' an award-winning Canadian journalist advocates living a slower, more measured existence, in virtually every area, a philosophy he defines as 'balance.' The author explores, in convincing and skillful prose, a quiet revolution known as 'the slow movement,' which is attempting to integrate the advances of the information age into a lifestyle that is marked by an 'inner slowness' that gives more depth to relationships with others and with oneself. For the overprogrammed and stressed, slow and steady may win the race."
Publisher's Weekly

"Honoré‘s engaging report should be embraced by those with quality-of-life and environmental concerns."
Booklist

"Try reading this book one chapter a day — it is worth allowing its subversive message to sink slowly in so it has a chance of changing your life."
—Bill McKibben, author of Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age and The End of Nature

"The speed of life borders on insanity for an increasing number of us, and the price we pay is the erosion of our happiness and health. If you sometimes feel engulfed by the mad pace of modern life — and who doesn't? — Carl Honoré's In Praise of Slow could prove life-saving."
—Larry Dossey, MD, Author:  Healing Beyond the Body and Reinventing Medicine

"In this terrific book, Carl Honoré gets to the heart of what's ailing western industrial societies — our obsession with productivity, speed and consumerism — but he doesn't stop with the gloom and doom. Instead, he shows the way out, with inspiring examples from the growing worldwide 'slow ' movement. Take the time to read this important, excellently written  book — our future depends on the ideas it contains!"
—John de Graaf, co-author, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, and editor, Take Back Your Time

"It's about time someone insisted — in intelligent, persuasive language — that we all put on the brakes, or at least check the instruments on the dashboard. Through anecdote, statistic and argument, Honoré wants to convert us to an atheism that is opposed to this culture's mad theology of speed."
— Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate

"Entrepreneur and slow may seem like oxymorons. However, taking the time to read Carl Honoré'sIn Praise of Slow may be the best decision an entrepreneur, or anyone working full time, can make."
— Gary Erickson, Entrepreneur & CEO of Clif Bar Inc., and Author of Raising the Bar

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780676975727
  • Publisher: Knopf Canada
  • Publication date: 5/11/2004
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.81 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Carl Honore is a Canadian journalist living in London, England. He has written for The Globe and Mail, the National Post, The Guardian and The Economist. While researching this book in Italy, he was slapped with a speeding ticket.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Do Everything Faster

We affirm that the world's magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed.
Futurist Manifesto, 1909

What is the very first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Draw the curtains? Roll over to snuggle up with your partner or pillow? Spring out of bed and do ten push-ups to get the blood pumping? No, the first thing you do, the first thing everyone does, is check the time. From its perch on the bedside table, the clock gives us our bearings, telling us not only where we stand vis-à-vis the rest of the day, but also how to respond. If it's early, I close my eyes and try to go back to sleep. If it's late, I spring out of bed and make a beeline for the bathroom. Right from that first waking moment, the clock calls the shots. And so it goes, on through the day, as we scurry from one appointment, one deadline, to the next. Every moment is woven into a schedule, and wherever we look — the bedside table, the office canteen, the corner of the computer screen, our own wrists — the clock is ticking, tracking our progress, urging us not to fall behind.

In our fast-moving modern world, it always seems that the time-train is pulling out of the station just as we reach the platform. No matter how fast we go, no matter how cleverly we schedule, there are never enough hours in the day. To some extent, it has always been so. But today we feel more time pressure than ever before. Why? What makes us different from our ancestors? If we are ever going to slow down, we must understand why we accelerated in the first place, why the world got so revved up, so tightly scheduled. And to do that, we need to start at the very beginning, by looking at our relationship with time itself.

Mankind has always been in thrall to time, sensing its presence and power, yet never sure how to define it. In the fourth century, St. Augustine mused, "What is time then? If nobody asks me, I know; but if I were desirous to explain it to one that should ask me, plainly I do not know." Sixteen hundred years later, after wrestling with a few pages of Stephen Hawking, we understand exactly how he felt. Yet even if time remains elusive, every society has evolved ways of measuring its passage. Archaeologists believe that over twenty thousand years ago European ice age hunters counted the days between lunar phases by carving lines and holes in sticks and bones. Every great culture in the ancient world — the Sumerians and the Babylonians, the Egyptians and the Chinese, the Mayans and the Aztecs — created its own calendar. One of the first documents to roll off the Gutenberg printing press was the "Calendar of 1448."

Once our ancestors learned to measure years, months and days, the next step was to chop time into smaller units. An Egyptian sundial dating from 1500 BC is one of the oldest surviving instruments for dividing the day into equal parts. Early "clocks" were based on the time it took for water or sand to pass through a hole, or for a candle or a dish of oil to burn. Timekeeping took a great leap forward with the invention of the mechanical clock in thirteenth-century Europe. By the late 1600s, people could accurately measure not only hours, but also minutes and seconds.
Survival was one incentive for measuring time. Ancient civilizations used calendars to work out when to plant and harvest crops. Right from the start, though, timekeeping proved to be a double-edged sword. On the upside, scheduling can make anyone, from peasant farmer to software engineer, more efficient. Yet as soon as we start to parcel up time, the tables turn, and time takes over. We become slaves to the schedule. Schedules give us deadlines, and deadlines, by their very nature, give us a reason to rush. As an Italian proverb puts it: Man measures time, and time measures man.

By making daily schedules possible, clocks held out the promise of greater efficiency — and also tighter control. Yet early timepieces were too unreliable to rule mankind the way the clock does today. Sundials did not work at night or in cloudy weather, and the length of a sundial hour varied from day to day thanks to the tilt of the earth. Ideal for timing a specific act, hourglasses and water clocks were hopeless at telling the time of day. Why were so many duels, battles and other events in history held at dawn? Not because our ancestors were partial to early rises, but because dawn was the one time that everyone could identify and agree on. In the absence of accurate clocks, life was dictated by what sociologists call Natural Time. People did things when it felt right, not when a wristwatch told them to. They ate when hungry, and slept when drowsy. Nevertheless, from early on, telling time went hand in hand with telling people what to do.

As long ago as the sixth century, Benedictine monks lived by a routine that would make a modern time manager proud. Using primitive clocks, they rang bells at set intervals throughout the day and night to hurry each other from one task to the next, from prayer to study to farming to rest, and back to prayer again. When mechanical clocks began springing up in town squares across Europe, the line between keeping time and keeping control blurred further. Cologne offers a revealing case study. Historical records suggest that a public clock was erected in the German city around 1370. In 1374, Cologne passed a statute that fixed the start and end of the workday for labourers, and limited their lunch break to "one hour and no longer."

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Table of Contents

Introduction — The Age of Rage

One — Do Everything Faster
Two — Slow Is Beautiful
Three — Food: Turning the Tables on Speed
Four — Cities: Blending Old and New
Five — Mind/Body: Mens Sana in Corpore Sano
Six — Medicine: Doctors and Patience
Seven — Sex: A Lover with a Slow Hand
Eight — Work: The Benefits of Working Less Hard
Nine — Leisure: The Importance of Being at Rest
Ten — Children: Raising an Unhurried Child

Conclusion — Finding the Tempo Giusto

Notes
Resource List
Acknowledgements
Index

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