How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell: Book Review

How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell Book Cover

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How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell Book Cover
Did Not Finish

Title: How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
Author: Jenny Odell
Genre: Self-Help
Audience: Adult
Format: E-book

I’ve tried to read How to Do Nothing. I promise I’ve tried hard. I’m so guilty of spending too much time on social media and the internet and everything else that tries (successfully) to steal my attention away from the here and now. But I’m just not getting anywhere with this book. I first checked it out on May 22 and here it is, June 29, and I’m 27% finished with it. That’s abysmal for me.

I’m the biggest problem. I’m more of a fiction reader but I do like to concurrently read a nonfiction book and I add that in at night. This book asks for more thought than I’m able to give at that point in my day. I would find myself pulling up trail guides on my Kindle instead. Trail guides! They aren’t exactly meant to be read cover-to-cover.

Part of the problem is that, ironically enough, my attention span has been almost non-existent since the beginning of the COVID stay-at-home orders in March. I’ve really struggled with fiction too. I’ve finally realized that lighter, more fast-paced fiction is all I have in my wheelhouse right now, and I’m okay with that. At least it’s something. I have friends who aren’t able to read at all.

And yet another problem is that I just don’t think in the same way that the author does. I don’t mean that we disagree about ideas; I mean that she presents information in a way that I don’t understand. I just can’t wrap my mind around what she’s trying to say. She’s also a visual artist and she describes the opening of an art project that she had spent three months working on, when a woman asks her, “Wait…so did you actually make anything? Or did you just put things on shelves?” I can appreciate (some/most) art, but from the description of this project, I would have felt as perplexed as the woman.

There is definitely an audience for this book. It’s well-reviewed on GoodReads. That audience just isn’t me, at least not at this point in my life.


Buy How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy from Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC.

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