Tom MacWright

I read How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell on


How to Do Nothing is something. It’s a book, of a type, in a genre, that could be vague or imprecise, that would have done perfectly well just relying on the relevance and energy of its subject. But it’s better than that: though it relies on many references and anecdotes and proposes a few grand sweeping theories, it ultimately is concrete and substantive enough, and rhetorically strong enough, to make you feel, in the words of the internet, seen.

I read it at the right time, partway through a short vacation during which I planned to do nothing. My laptop stayed closed for a few days.

I buy it, the whole theory. I think Odell’s thesis holds up and the general guidance she gives is right. Will I go on, a changed man, and successfully resist the attention economy? I hope, and I think I’ve already been practicing some of the habits that she talks about.