How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy

Written by:
Jenny Odell
Narrated by:
Rebecca Gibel

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
May 2019
8 hours 11 minutes
A galvanizing critique of the forces vying for our attention-and our personal information-that redefines what we think of as productivity, reconnects us with the environment, and reveals all that we've been too distracted to see about ourselves and our world

Nothing is harder to do these days than nothing. But in a world where our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity . . . doing nothing may be our most important form of resistance.

So argues artist and critic Jenny Odell in this field guide to doing nothing (at least as capitalism defines it). Odell sees our attention as the most precious-and overdrawn-resource we have. Once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind's role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress.

Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we hear so often, How to do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, this book is a four-course meal in the age of Soylent.
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Kimberly N.

Thought-provoking. But narrator's voice was grating.

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I agree with the others here who’ve said the narrators voice is grating. I also thought it was AI until I noticed a person’s name. Inflections are in odd places and words are pronounced in bizarre ways (e.g. preference is pronounced “preFERRRRence”). I would really really like to see another person read this, as is it is impossible to listen to.

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Olivia A.

I loved this book, and unlike the other anonymous review here, I didn’t seek it out thinking it would be some chill walk in the park. Listen to poetry or something, if you want that. Capitalism is the literal reason why the Attention Economy exists…. And “attention economy” is on the cover, so not too sure was was expected. You’re lucky you don’t have trouble not reaching for your phone every two minutes. Odell’s insight into the complexity of this issue was astonishing. I have to reread it, to truly grasp everything she connected it to. Unfortunately, it did not work for me as an audiobook because of the narrator :( I assumed it was read by AI until I saw a real person’s name. I think it should be reread why someone else. I have the physical book, which is how I ended up reading it, as it’s pretty impossible to listen to.

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starts out with an interesting premise. but when I start hearing about politics, I start to get skeptical. and it doesn't matter what flavor of politics. I just wanted an audiobook to chill out with but a significant part of this book seems like an anti capitalist diatribe. or at least the part I heard. what really did me in was the part that says "doing nothing takes discipline etc etc. doing nothing is HARD." here's my thing. personally, I have never made significant changes to my life using "hard work". I'm sympathetic to the idea that social media is monetizing and reinforcing some probably undesirable behaviors in myself and others. but if I'm told I need to work hard to relax I... can't relax. I feel like I'm trying to digest doublethink. what works for me is changing perspective. like I said, I just wanted a book to chill with, and this book is asking me to bust my ass while apparently reminding me every so often the writer doesn't dig capitalism. I'd prefer something toned down. I couldn't even recommend this book if you agree with the writer's politics.

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