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How to be Idle Paperback – 30 Jun 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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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 (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer 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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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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Format: Hardcover
If you are one of those folk, like me , who is inclined to feel somewhat less of a person for having,say, spent the morning on amazon instead of writing reports, this is the book for you. It is one of those books best read over a long period of time to digest its ample wisdom and profound thought, not only from Hodgkinson himself but also some of history's greatest people.
Although I would take isue with riot as an idlers pastime and echo other criticisms about smoking, what caught me was the exposure of the myth of those, such as Edison who claimed to do with very little sleep.
Enjoy the 24 fine chapters in this, have a doze and live.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book. There is a rash of books at the moment advocating better, slower lifestyles. Tom Hodgkinson, however, is no Johnny-come-lately, having been editor of The Idler for ten years. He points out how the five hours sleep a night, always busy lifestyle leads to a life that really achieves nothing. The so-called 'idler' is far more creative as well as being a real human being rather than some sort of automaton. Examples abound in his book. Einstein was an Idler. Margaret Thatcher, when Prime Minister, wasn't. R. L. Stevenson was. Billy Butlin wasn't, and so on. Hodgkinson's cultural references are wide ranging through such as Samuel Johnson (another man who was amazingly productive while still spending vast amounts of time either in bed or in the pub) and the Clash - though personally, I would have thought the real idler would prefer to seriously get into five hours of Wagner rather than put up with the three or four minutes frenetic bursts of popular music.
There are a couple of criticisms I would make. Hodgkinsdon seems very keen on smoking and anarchy. Being an ex-smoker I cam emphasize with everything Hodgkinson says. However, being such an addictive substance I can't help thinking that it puts you in thrall to some rather dodgy big business. And, surely anarchy is another name for exploitation of the workers by big business. It is always the CBI who complains about restrictive 'red-tape' or in other words being stopped from killing their workers or making them work 100 hour weeks.
Hodgkinson sensibly and correctly criticises the soul-destroying evangelical brand of Christianity that promotes a Protestant work ethic while pointing out that such as the Song of Songs in the Bible is all about an idle sort of eroticism.
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