Book Notes: "How to be Idle" by Tom Hodgkinson

How to be IdleHow to be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was useful in that it points to historical authors and works and it is reasonably well-referenced and includes some historical texts in an appendix. I enjoyed reading the book and had a good laugh several times, but it was obvious that the author was young (at the time of writing) and tended to reify a young person's happy relationship with drugs and alcohol as something that could not only be perpetuated indefinitely, but that was a normal part of being an idler. That may be true if you want to die young or do yourself a Hemingway, but it seemed to be a little too keen on the idea of chemically-induced idling rather than an intellectually-focused "flâneurie". I suppose it is easy to be a critic, but the book is formulaic in the way Robert Greene, Ryan Holiday, or Mark Manson tend to write. This is a recent trend and while I have followed this trend and read the contents of these authors greedily, it just doesn't have the spark that sets apart great literature from great absorption of the work of others. That's it! These works are useful and good, but the works tend to be - what was it they recently suggested lecturers should be? - that's right, "curators" of content. That's it precisely. This book is an excellent example of curated content on idling that the reader will enjoy and no doubt learn from. But it lacks that creative spark of great literature, and it tends to be mono-cultural in its appeal. Just like a competent lecturer. You will learn, not burn.

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