Synopses & Reviews
With advice, information, and reflection on such matters as lying in, long lunches, the art of the nap, and how to skive, How to Be Idle
gives you all the inspiration you need to take a break from your fast-paced, overworked life.
From the founding editor of the The Idler, the celebrated magazine about the freedom and fine art of doing nothing, comes not simply a book, but an antidote to our work-obsessed culture. In How to Be Idle, Tom Hodgkinson presents his learned yet whimsical argument for a new universal standard of living: being happy doing nothing. He covers a whole spectrum of issues affecting the modern idler sleep, work, pleasure, relationships bemoaning the cultural skepticism of idleness while reflecting on the writing of such famous apologists for it as Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Johnson, and Nietzsche all of whom have admitted to doing their very best work in bed.
It's a well-known fact that Europeans spend fewer hours at work a week than Americans. So it's only befitting that one of them the very clever, extremely engaging, and quite hilarious Hodgkinson should have the wittiest and most useful insights into the fun and nature of loafing.
Who wouldn't want to blow off work for a day and just "be idle"? The key to a life of pleasure, freedom, and guilt-free lounging around is in your hands.
"When your alarm clock jolts you awake in the morning, do you wish you could just lie in bed, read a book, sip a cup of tea and be idle all day? Hodgkinson, founder of the Idler magazine, does. And in this book he presents 24 essays defending life's idle pleasures, which are, he says, vilified by our modern society. He meditates on sleeping in, fishing, smoking and drinking, and even waxes poetic about the hangover. The whole book is soaked with nostalgia for the turn-of-the-century English gentleman's lifestyle; Hodgkinson defends his arguments by quoting Jerome K. Jerome, G.K. Chesterton and, of course, that icon of British foppery, Oscar Wilde. Although billed as tongue-in-cheek witticisms about the idle life, the book fails to maintain the comic tone. In his chapter on the evils of the 9-to-5 job ('wage slavery,' as the author calls it), Hodgkinson cites Heinrich Himmler as a spokesperson for the defense of work, tacitly comparing shuffling papers in a cubicle for 40 hours a week to the horrors of Auschwitz. The book gives tantalizing anthropological insights into society's views on those lazy habits that the author so enjoys, but the viewpoint is so antiquated and condescending toward the poor slobs who must actually go to work every day that readers will often find themselves staring aghast at the page. B&w line illus. Agent, Cat Ledger." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Hodgkinson revels in the pleasures of sleeping in, taking leisurely lunches, napping, and other such pursuits. Artfully combining British and American perspectives, this book promises to be just as big a hit here as it was in the United Kingdom." Library Journal
"[N]o idler worth his salt will read it in a single sitting-there's too much fishing, tea drinking and napping to be done. Charming, as all idlers should be." Kirkus Reviews
"It's no surprise that the successful idlers Hodgkinson quotes are all writers and writers will enjoy this book." New York Times
"If only I had known earlier, I wouldn't have wasted so many years eating at my desk and striving (unsuccessfully) to get ahead. Every newly minted college grad would benefit from this book." USA Today
About the Author
Tom Hodgkinson is still doing what he's always done, which is a mixture of editing magazines, writing articles, and putting on parties. He was born in 1968, founded The Idler in 1993, and now lives in Devon, England. He is also the author of The Freedom Manifesto.