This past weekend at the Godspeed the Plough! conference, Ragan Sutterfield extolled the virtues of Tom Hodgkinson‘s book How to be Idle. We’re hoping that Ragan will write a review of this book for us in the near future, but for now here’s a review from PopMatters.com:
“It’s a well-known fact that Europeans spend fewer hours at work a week than Americans,” says the publisher’s promo copy for this book. “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.” Hodgkinson, editor of British journal, The Idler, is indeed clever, engaging, hilarious, and European, and promo copy naturally needs to market its subject. However, this reductionist take on How to be Idle diminishes its capacity for creating radical shifts of thought (as well as ignoring the fact that European countries are shifting towards a more Americanized workweek).
Hidden in American compliments of European better living, such as the one penned by HarperCollins’ PR person, is a smug satisfaction that they might have idleness down pat, but we’re the ones with the money. Our capital and our (usually shaky) world power prove that our relentless work ethic is superior, despite the toll it takes on our psyches. Even our own “simplicity” movement, as embodied in magazines like Organic Style and Real Simple, is time consuming and expensive to take part in.
Thankfully, you won’t find any Real Simple-style recommendations for how to make elaborate dried flower arrangements or stenciled place cards in Hodgkinson’s book. The beauty of How to be Idle is its realism, and its lack of puritanical zeal. … “
Read the full review:
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com