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Playtime Paperback – Jul 1992

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More About the Author

Witold Rybczynski has written about architecture for The New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker. He is the architecture critic for Slate, and is the author of the critically-acclaimed book Home and the award-winning A Clearing in the Distance. His latest book is The Biography of a Building. He is the recipient of the National Building Museum's 2007 Vincent Scully Prize. He lives with his wife in Philadelphia, where he teaches at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.
Read his blog at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A thought provoking essay 12 Dec. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This delightful shortish (234 pages) book is a sort of rambling essay on first the development of the seven day week and the two day weekend (which unlike the 365 day year, the 30 day month and the 24 hour day, are not dictated by celestial phenomena) and then on the rise of leisure.
Rybczynski provides many interesting facts: where the names of the days come from; how the Depression led to shorter workdays; that Henry Ford was one of the early advocates of shorter work hours because he foresaw that workers would be better consumers if they had more free time, etc.
It also raises several fascinating arguments: that thanks to automation and specialization in the workplace, most of us probably require greater skills in our leisure pursuits than in our jobs (one inevitably thinks of Chuck's 4 handicap); that the recent increase in folks average hours of work is a result of the rise of leisure, most 40 hour jobs will pay for life's necessities, the increased hours pay for vacation houses, country club memberships, boats, etc..
It all makes for a very diverting & thought-provoking entertainment.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Natural Rhythms 27 Feb. 2007
By J. Brian Watkins - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rybczynkski has a wonderful gift for exploring the seemingly ordinary. Why should a week have seven days? Haven't we always had Saturday and Sunday off? What about ancient civilizations using other calendars?

All of these questions and more are answered. However, the book is recommended not because of the answers, but because it evidences the joy of scholarship--the pleasure of researching and discovering forgotten truths that illuminate present practice. I wish my High School teachers had recommended books such as this as Rybczynski demonstrates that everything has a story worth knowing and that our modern world is based upon a real foundation of historical facts.

And, besides all that, it made me tremendously grateful to live in a world where we have a chance to live independently of our professions and occupations, where we have the ability to spend time on private pursuits.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding book - very worthwhile 24 Feb. 1999
By Darren Rushing ( - Published on
Format: Paperback
In an overall sense, this is an outstanding book. Rybczynski, has an ability to force the reader to think about life situations normally taken for granted. In, Waiting for the Weekend, the author looks at several angles concerning the ideas of the "weekend" and "leisure". After reading this book, I will never look at leisure the way I did in the past. This is not the type of book to read if the reader does not want to be challenged. Rybczynski's writing style is thorough, witty, and informative. This is a worthwhile book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Of Work as a four letter word. 11 May 2013
By Justin Playfair - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a transitional account of the period when agrarian people migrated toward industrialization, and the problems encountered in leaving the seasonal aspects of day/night to the adjustment to the seven day week.
It is entertaining to say the least as we learn about the Early closing association, what is a lushington? How this all began and how shopkeepers and clerks were much worse off than factory workers. This gets rid of the myths of the Dickensian sweat shop and shows how workers, other than poverty stricken widows with children, countered the demands of factory management by "disappearing" after payday and returning to work again four days later. Also, suggested reading -George H. Watson's article on "The Decline of Leisure"
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
just o.k. 2 Oct. 2013
By mjm - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
he is an excellent writer but i did not find this as interesting as some of his other works. i have reread his the perfect house many times.
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