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Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time | [Brigid Schulte]

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time

According to the Leisure Studies Department at the University of Iowa, true leisure is “that place in which we realize our humanity.” If that’s true, argues Brigid Schulte, then we're doing dangerously little realizing of our humanity. In Overwhelmed, Schulte, a staff writer for The Washington Post, asks: Are our brains, our partners, our culture, and our bosses making it impossible for us to experience anything but “contaminated time”?
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Publisher's Summary

Can working parents in America - or anywhere - ever find true leisure time?

According to the Leisure Studies Department at the University of Iowa, true leisure is “that place in which we realize our humanity.” If that’s true, argues Brigid Schulte, then we're doing dangerously little realizing of our humanity. In Overwhelmed, Schulte, a staff writer for The Washington Post, asks: Are our brains, our partners, our culture, and our bosses making it impossible for us to experience anything but “contaminated time”?

Schulte first asked this question in a 2010 feature for The Washington Post Magazine: “How did researchers compile this statistic that said we were rolling in leisure - over four hours a day? Did any of us feel that we actually had downtime? Was there anything useful in their research - anything we could do?”

Overwhelmed is a map of the stresses that have ripped our leisure to shreds, and a look at how to put the pieces back together. Schulte speaks to neuroscientists, sociologists, and hundreds of working parents to tease out the factors contributing to our collective sense of being overwhelmed, seeking insights, answers, and inspiration. She investigates progressive offices trying to invent a new kind of workplace; she travels across Europe to get a sense of how other countries accommodate working parents; she finds younger couples who claim to have figured out an ideal division of chores, childcare, and meaningful paid work. Overwhelmed is the story of what she found out.

©2014 Brigid Schulte (P)2014 Audible, Inc., all rights reserved. Published by Brilliance Audio. Produced by arrangement with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

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  •  
    Toby Portsmouth, NH, United States 04-28-14
    Toby Portsmouth, NH, United States 04-28-14 Member Since 2014

    Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An intelligent look at modern Us culture"
    If you could sum up Overwhelmed in three words, what would they be?

    An insightful book on the frantic and non-thinking, robotic behavior of so many in this culture. The travels and insights into other countries was enlightening and exciting.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    This is a nonfiction book. There is no favorite character. The author is the character, if one must use such a term for a nonfiction book.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Wrong question for a nonfiction book. As you push, I'd say the time in Copenhagen and Norway.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    Reinforced my belief that americans do not understand leisure and over value "work."


    Any additional comments?

    Very well planned book as a look upon this culture of move, fast, work, work. The author' suse of prose was really good, too. I was engaged from beginning to end.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine S. Read Fairfax, VA USA 10-02-14
    Catherine S. Read Fairfax, VA USA 10-02-14 Member Since 2010

    A digital media consultant and business strategist. I'm a lifelong lover of books in all forms.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Essential Reading for Creating a Better Future"
    What did you love best about Overwhelmed?

    It spoke to my own struggles over the last 50 years of being a woman in America: as a person who understood gender inequality in kindergarten, as a wife, mother, employee, entrepreneur and political activist. Unless you've been living under a rock, this book - Brigid Schulte's reporting - touches on your own life and those around you.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    How intensely real her experiences are. I could feel her frustration, anger and sense of being overwhelmed because I have lived that experience. We accept as immutable the culture we live in and assume it's "the best" because Americans see our lifestyle and our country as "exceptional." In many of quality of life factors, we lag well behind other countries. We don't look around seeking ways to improve how we live. At this point in my life, it's about improving it for my 3 twenty-something children. I want to leave a different legacy behind - one where my son and daughters have more choices and options to live the lives they want to live.


    Which character – as performed by Tavia Gilbert – was your favorite?

    She brings a believable voice to that of the author. By the end of the book, you feel you have bonded with Brigid - you have shared her journey and what it means to try and having a meaningful life off the hamster wheel people enjoy complaining about.


    If you could give Overwhelmed a new subtitle, what would it be?

    Life doesn't have to be this way.


    Any additional comments?

    This is one of the most important books you can read this year. Things will not change or improve for our children and grandchildren if those of us at the top of the Boomer foodchain don't recognize we have a responsibility to change the dynamics of the workplace, our schools, our social structures and our communities. We do not have to be OVERWHELMED to prove we are productive and have value to the world.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Isabel C. 06-02-15
    Isabel C. 06-02-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Great thought provoking book"

    Backed by amazing research, it seeks to explore how can we live better and be happier. This book is worth reading for men and women alike.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Colorado 05-03-15
    Amazon Customer Colorado 05-03-15 Member Since 2012
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    "10-Hour Rant on Mommy-Martyrs"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Maybe mothers who are martyrs and victims, and want everyone to know about it might think "Finally, someone who understands me." For the rest of us, you might think "No wonder I avoid people (women) like this."


    What was most disappointing about Brigid Schulte’s story?

    I thought it might have some helpful ways to deal with feeling overwhelmed. Only parts of the last two hours had any type of synthesis - once this author finally realized that she was the problem (without this I would have given it a ZERO star rating). This author seems to believe that the whole world needs to change to suit her. Arrgggh - it made me want to poke my eyeballs out.


    What about Tavia Gilbert’s performance did you like?

    Good reading voice and presentation.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Anger mostly, what a waste of my time. I had to start skipping parts 20-30 minutes at a time. I was just waiting for this author to get over herself and her drama-trauma, and get to something that resembled useful.


    Any additional comments?

    I don't think this author is probably capable of seeing why she is the problem, and that's (it least in large measure) her problem.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bike Momma 04-26-15
    Bike Momma 04-26-15 Member Since 2015
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    "um, this may have just changed my life"
    What did you love best about Overwhelmed?

    Very well researched. She attacks the issue from all angles, as well as her personal journey.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I learned a lot, and I thought I understood the problem from other sociology books I have read.


    What about Tavia Gilbert’s performance did you like?

    She has a cheerful voice.


    If you could give Overwhelmed a new subtitle, what would it be?

    I know you don't have the time to read this book, but you should.


    Any additional comments?

    The research is very applicable to my life, and the lives of my busy peers. It is not a "Self-Help" book per se. It appeals to my logical mind, and is not preachy. It is an excellent follow-up to "All Joy, and No Fun", and excellent book about the paradox of motherhood. This book is not specifically for parents, but a great complement.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debora Aoki Emeryville, CA United States 04-19-15
    Debora Aoki Emeryville, CA United States 04-19-15 Member Since 2014

    debaoki

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    "Depressing, Dreary Listening Experience"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I wish this wasn't so heavily focused in the beginning on complaining about how hard it is to be a working mother. Yes, I know that it's hard to juggle work and family, but as a single working person, it made me feel like, "oh you have it EASY compared to ME." It was a lot of complaining from a upper middle class person that frankly started to annoy me. I didn't get the answers and advice I was hoping to find -- just someone saying "Sh*t's hard. Am I right, gals?" Tell me something I don't know and can learn from... not just more of what I already know.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I listened to the Richard Branson book, "The Virgin Way" and the Gary Vaynerchuck book "Crush It" because it was just so much more useful, entertaining and inspiring.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    I think it was more the content than the narration, but ugh. the whining. the whining...


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-14-15

    booklover

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    "All working moms should take some time to read."
    What made the experience of listening to Overwhelmed the most enjoyable?

    I let go of a lot of guilt for not being the perfect mother/wife/employee/doctor all the time. It was good to hear I'm not alone and great to hear some solutions.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Overwhelmed?

    When she failed at scheduling every thing that MUST be accomplished in her day.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The above scene, when the person she was working with asked when she knew that it was not realistic to think she could do everything that was a MUST on her schedule and she made the realization that she knew from the beginning that this was going to be a fail.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    I should have been born in Denmark!


    Any additional comments?

    I am making a real attempt at letting go of my attempts at multi-tasking. I am getting better at chunking time and getting into a "flow" with the one thing I'm working on at that moment, even if it is play.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcia 03-18-15
    Marcia 03-18-15 Member Since 2015
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    "This is the book I wish I'd written."

    I knew this was going to be a good book when I highlighted about 5 places in just the Kindle sample. Then I bought the Audible audio book so I could
    get through it faster.

    Overwhelmed is chock-full of really excellent research coupled with the
    author's memoir, as it relates to her time pressures.

    She's funny, writes beautifully and really challenges the reader to choose a
    more intentional life.

    I particularly loved the fact that the research was not only based in
    America as is so often the case with non-fiction, but there is a depth of
    research in many different countries. I was tickled to hear South Africa
    mentioned too. Of course, we all want to move to Denmark now (you'll have to
    read the book to see why).

    I could honestly write about 50 different blog posts on all the insights I had while reading/ listening to this book (and maybe I will :)).

    One other thing to mention is I love the way the book was structured with
    her dealing with work, love and play in separate sections. Made it very easy
    to follow along.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Alford 03-12-15 Member Since 2014
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    "This book was an answer to prayer!"

    Brigid Schulte described my "overwhelm" exactly, including my confusion, resentment, and feelings of unworthiness. Her book has encouraged me to see my life differently. With her help, I may even learn to play! I recommend this book to anyone who feels swamped by competing demands and wants to find a more joyful life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joana Garcia 03-10-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Good but a little slow"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Overwhelmed to be better than the print version?

    I enjoyed this book considering it really nails down my life in the first chapter. I did enjoy the comparison between the US and other countries with regard to women's roles in society. The one thing I thought could improve was the reading of the text. It was a bit slow and when sped up it was too fast so I felt like I needed to adjust depending on what I was doing and how much time I had to listen. Wow, that statement was so appropriate to this review.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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