in Book Reviews, general, Reviews

Finished: Jenny Odell’s How to do Nothing. 2/5⭐️

What an absolute shitshow of a book. I went in with great expectations. The first chapter gave me even greater expectations. So much so that even before I was done with that chapter, I had ordered a physical copy of the book from Half Price Books for future reference and rereading.

It went downhill from there.

I’ve often heard that if California were an independent economy, it would be the sixth or seventh largest in the world.

Now I understand why that statement makes a lot of sense. Just like all other economies in the world, the people who belong there are often so Nationalistic and narrow minded that their thinking starts and ends with that economy. It just so happens that that economy more often than not coincides with a country.

The same is true for California. The author wouldn’t be bothered to give an international example with a gun to their head. Yes, at the outset of the book there were references to European philosophers and places. But that’s all foil. Once you are invested in the book, the author can’t get their head out of California’s ass.

So much so that the grand idea – how to resist the attention economy and do something structured as a means of protest against it – is completely lost in example after example of how fucking amazing California’s people, ecology, redwoods, and birds are.

Oh. My. God. The fucking birding. We get it. You’re into birding. Shut up about it.

No, the author just keeps dragging you through tired metaphor after tired metaphor about birding and how fucking great it is.

Seriously Jenny, get a life.

Key takeaway from this rant – don’t waste your time, energy, mind, and effort on this book. If you are desperate to know what’s in it, read the article the author has based this book on. It’ll probably have just the same amount of drivel in a concise form.

2/5 ⭐️ because while the book is a waste of space, it’s got a nice set of references which can feed my TBR for a long time to come. Goes to show that you can take some really world class reading and churn out utter drivel from it. Also, the hardcover will form a nice and light doorstopper for me one day.

What do you think?


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  1. @nitinkhanna Phew! I thought I was the odd one out who didn’t like it and hence abandoned the book after two chapters. Now I’m glad I didn’t continue. I am sold on the concept but boy, does it make it dense trying to get to the point.

  2. @pratik usually, when I get the sense that I’m going to rate a book so badly, I DNF it instead. But the author kept using philosophy to drive me to the next page, and kept promising their solution is just around the corner. Such a mistake!