The words 'How to Do Nothing' surrounded by flowers; detail from How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell cover art

How to Do Nothing: Book of the Month January 2023

The words 'How to Do Nothing' surrounded by flowers; detail from How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell cover art

Book of the month for January 2023 is How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell.

Jenny Odell’s book explores ways to refuse to let our every moment become monetised. She encourages resisting chasing the capitalist ideal of being ever more productive. In place of a crazed online existence building a personal brand and scrolling feeds arranged for us by algorithms, she advocates for re-engaging with each other and the physical world around us.

‘doing nothing’ – in the sense of refusing productivity and stopping to listen – entails an active process of listening that seeks out the effects of racial, environmental and economic injustice and brings about real change”

Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing

Odell calls her book ‘an activist book disguised as a self-help book’. The book contemplates three routes to escaping the capitalist system. 1) dropping out 1960s style, 2) moving laterally out to things and people around us, and 3) moving downwards into place.

The book can be read as a utopian manifesto. Or is it a utopian plan of action? A way of being utopian in our increasingly dystopian world?

How to Do Nothing might inspire you to approach life differently in 2023… Unless you disagree with Odell’s thesis entirely of course… If you’re in Bristol, UK, you can join an in person discussion of the book with the Utopian Book Collective on 6 February 2023.

How to Do Nothing book cover

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