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In Praise of Slow
on 1 October 2006
I read "In Praise of Slow" earlier this year after a chance meeting with it in a bookshop in my town; and I can say with absolute certainty that it is the only book that I have read that has changed my entire outlook on life. That alone is sufficient to give it a rating of five stars. How then has it changed me?
It has changed me by allowing me to understand its message: do not do as much as you can as fast as you can. If this strikes you as common sense, then you probably belong to the category of people who do not need to read the book but would nonetheless enjoy it. It is perhaps a problem for books such as this that it is only people with at least a glimmering notion of the light that it reflects who will bother to read it; some people will "not have time to read it" because they are so busy.
The book is not about taking everything slowly (I wonder whether I ought to repeat that), but about taking everything at the right speed. In our twenty-first-century world we are more often going too fast than too slow, so the book will inevitably concentrate on slowing down. There is a difference which not all previous reviewers seem to have noticed between "slow", adjective, and "Slow", social movement: it is the latter with which this book is concerned.
The right speed: the "Tempo Giusto". I am a musician, so the pages of the book that discussed this were of particular interest to me. I had not come across a "Tempo Giusto" movement before, though I had come across the term. It means either "just or exact rhythm" or "the speed that the style of the music demands (usually Moderato)" (The Oxford Companion to Music). The phrase is not used very often in the context of music as a tempo designation, because it does not convey any information to the musician: "at the right speed"; no composer is going to instruct the player to play the music "at the wrong speed", or almost no composer. And taking it to mean merely what it says, and not implying "moderato", a fast tempo is appropriate for an allegro piece, and a slow tempo for an andante. The idea of "Tempo Giusto" is appropriate not only in music but in all aspects of life.
Read this book Slowly; take your time; enjoy it. You will not be wasting your time. I hope you will have deleted that expression from your vocabulary by the time you finish reading "In Praise of Slow".