How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell | Black Inc.

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy

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About the author

Jenny Odell

Jenny Odell is a multidisciplinary artist and author. Her first book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy was an international bestseller. She is also author of Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock.
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How to Do Nothing

Praise for How to Do Nothing

‘A manifesto for the internet age.’ —The A.V. Club


‘An invigorating meditation on ways of seeing and being more present … It’s a book that could change you for the better.’—LitHub

‘[Odell] wants to give readers permission to be a human, in a body, in a place.’—The Guardian

‘Thoughtful, compelling, and practical.’—GQ


‘Compelling, provocative and hopeful – a roadmap for stillness and reflection in an age of distraction.’—Jill Stark, author of Happy Never After and When You're Not OK


‘Self-help for the collectively minded, How to Do Nothing is as thoughtful and morally serious as it is fun to read. This book will change how you see the world.’—Malcolm Harris, author of Kids These Days


‘Your chaotic, fraught internal weather isn't an accident, it's a business model, and while “thoughtful resistance” isn't “productive”, Odell proves that it is utterly necessary.’—Cory Doctorow, author of Radicalized and Walkaway


‘In a media and tech ecosystem simultaneously obsessed with “digital detox” and building personal brands, How to Do Nothing is a breath of fresh air grounding readers in the complex, interdependent actual ecosystems of the physical world. Jenny Odell writes with remarkable clarity and compassion.’—Ingrid Burrington, author of Networks of New York   


‘Braids threads of ancient philosophy together with contemporary visual and technological culture, and weaves an original route to re-wilding the mind. Wide-ranging and erudite, this book is also entertaining, and brings the reader along with enthusiasm to Odell's philosophy of “manifest dismantling”.’—Megan Prelinger, author of Inside the Machine: Art and Invention in the Electronic Age


'How to Do Nothing seems like self-help, but it’s actually something more rare: help. It helps us to rethink our habits of distraction and alienation, and reorient ourselves towards our environments and one another. Jenny Odell offers us a manifesto that is personal but also boldly political: concerned with our common world, in all its diversity, fluidity and ambiguity. Luddite grumbling? Nope. Hermetic rambling? Nah. Corporate coaching? Fuck no. How to Do Nothing is an invitation to look and live more generously.' —Damon Young, author of Distraction and The Art of Reading

'Nuanced, sympathetic, thoughtful and imaginative, Odell's book explores the ways you can take back your attention without turning your back on the world. If, like me, you are trying to conserve your energy for creative or transformative projects; if you want information and connections but not distraction; if you want less despair, less anxiety and more world-changing action, start here.’ —Jane Rawson, author of From the Wreck and A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists

‘The book we all need to read now. With wonderful precision, passion and artfulness, Odell finds the language to meet this cultural moment. [This is] a joyful manifesto about resistance that is also an eccentric and practical handbook on how to reclaim your colonised and monetised attention.’—Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others

‘She struck a hopeful nerve of possibility that I hadn’t felt in a long time.’ —Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker 

‘[An] enthralling, searching new book ... Odell’s expansive, maniacal curiosity oozes from every page ... her intricate, sprawling essays construct a thoughtful and convincing case for what we could gain if we directed our attention away from our screens, and towards our local communities.’ —The Monthly