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How To Be Idle Paperback – 30 Jun 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (30 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141015063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141015064
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.5 x 17.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tom Hodgkinson was born in 1968 and is the author of How To Be Idle and How To Be Free. He is editor and co-founder of the Idler and contributes to the Guardian, the Sunday Times and the Independent on Sunday. He also imported absinthe for a while. He lives in Devon with his family.


Product Description

Review

"A true literary gem... irresistable"--USA Today

About the Author

Tom Hodgkinson was born in 1968. Since founding the Idler in 1993, he has been a frequent contributor to many newspapers and magazines and appears regularly on TV and radio to discuss 'idler' issues. This is his first book.

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First Sentence
I wonder if that hard-working American rationalist and agent of industry Benjamin Franklin knew how much misery he would cause in the world when, back in 1757, high on puritanical zeal, he popularized and promoted the trite and patently untrue aphorism "early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise"? Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 105 people found the following review helpful By N. Canham on 16 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book. At heart it shares the ethos of books like 'In Praise Of Slow' that champion a rejection of high pressure high speed modern lifestyles in favour of a calmer more contemplative approach. However, Hodgkinson's tack is more radical and polemic, suggesting that a lot of the things that people naturally do and society labels as idle or lazy are exactly the things we should be doing to take life more slowly and paradoxically become more alive. Things like staying in bed, taking long lunches, drinking plenty of alcohol, going for a walk. As has been mentioned, the idea that smoking or rioting should be part of this lifestyle are, for me, taking things too far, but in a way these chapters simply help amplify his thesis without corrupting it. The book has made me more determined than ever to pursue a freelance lifestyle, working when I want to and devoting more time to life affirming pursuits like playing music, reading and spending time with freinds and family. By the way, reviews such as 'I only read two chapters then I 'got it' and couldn't be bothered with the rest' and 'buy it if you can be arsed' have totally missed the point - idle and lazy are not the same thing, the book it about reclaiming your right to do what you want. Spending a long time savouring a good book to it's finish is exactly what the book is about, and I recommend you do just that.
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94 of 97 people found the following review helpful By "timdreid" on 6 Oct. 2004
Format: Hardcover
A very reassuring read for anyone who, like this reviewer, often has difficulty getting up in the morning and feels unnecessarily guilty about it. Hodgkinson fires a broadside at the dreadful work-hard-play-hard attitude begun by such apparent luminaries as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and Winston Churchill which has done nothing but reduce us to mentally unstable, guilt-ridden wrecks. A severe example of the "anti-idler's" puritanical onslaught is in his criticism of Lemsip, previously a soothing drink to be enjoyed while recuperating at home in bed, now using the horrendously authoritarian slogan "stop snivelling and get back to work!" to attack our insecurities. By exposing their hypocrisy (e.g. Edison's claiming he only needed 3-4 hours sleep per night, where in reality he had at least two 3-hour naps during the day) and displaying some hilarious, down-to-earth and touching excerpts from the works of far more sensible and contemplative characters such as Dr. Johnson, William Blake and Robert Burns, the book encourages us to reclaim our time for thoughts, dreams and appreciation of the present rather than analysis of the past or plans for a better future. A refreshing antidote to the deluge of dreadful "self-improvement" literature that shouts "Oi! Stop lazing around!" from so many bookshelves. Kick back and enjoy....
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 May 2013
Format: Paperback
Tom Hodgkinson is in the company of many thinkers who deplore the way our life since the Industrial Revolution has become a clock-dictated rat-race; the Puritan work ethic; the inculcation of guilt for taking life easy, taking time off to meditate or to do "nothing", which in fact is often creative time; the importance attached to having a job, which is often selling your time for unfulfilling or even stultifying activity. Many people work only because they want the money to spend on goods they don't really need. Typical of the cavalier advice which Hodgkinson scatters throughout the book is this: "Be fearless, quit your job! You have nothing to lose but your anxieties, debts and misery!" Or take a part-time job: "There is certainly a financial knock, but most find that the loss of income is easily compensated for by the extra time." Tell that to the millions of people who have to work full time to feed their families and who cannot be masters of their own time!

Indulging in Romantic visions of the past, Hodgkinson says that the poor were happier in the pre-industrial age, when work was not dictated by the clock, when people could multi-task and, if they wanted to, take time off to be idle. Holidays would appear to be good for idling, and Hodgkinson has an interesting chapter on their history. There are holidays of which he approves and holidays (especially organized ones) of which he disapproves. Best of all, of course, would be a life which allows so much opportunity for idling that there is really no desire for holidays at all. For those who are tied to the daily grind he has a chapter extolling skiving off work: the skiver is simply "stealing back time that has been stolen from him." "A four-hour [working] day is an eminently sensible way of operating our lives".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Minkle MacTinkle on 31 May 2008
Format: Paperback
Within the one broad theme of 'Idleness', Hodgkinson manages to encompass so many neglegted yet important facets of life. Our need to work less and play more is justified in a very well written book using examples and quotes from some great thinkers through history.
The greatest strength of this book is that it gives you a warm feeling that things you enjoy - beer gardens, sleeping etc - are actually really good for you. The guilt associated with not working so many hours per week, or needing to get up early to do DIY, are actually relics from the industrial revolution. This era of mass production with time as a mere commodity can be changed if people take on board the ideas of this book and adjust their lives to suit their soul and not their bank balance.
The book is divided into neat sections, each with a well placed quote, this makes it easy to read when visiting the toilet or having a bath. Although the tone is whimsical and flippant I think you can take a serious message from How to be Idle.
Who would I recommend this book to? Well..., everyone really.
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