How to Do Nothing

Resisting the Attention Economy
Narrated by: Rebecca Gibel
Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins
Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Art
3.8 out of 5 stars (324 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2019 Jenny Odell (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Featured Article: How to Do Nothing—Minimalism in a Busy World


In a world that’s constantly hustling and bustling, and continually bombarding us with images, technology, and clutter, doing nothing can be just what we need to center ourselves. But it turns out, you have to know a lot to do very little. Fortunately, more and more people are embracing the practices of minimalism (both in day-to-day realities and the digital space) and mindfulness every day. Paring back can have great mental health benefits.

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What listeners say about How to Do Nothing

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great book, voiceover is brutal

it’s difficult to listen to this book about resisting technology when the narrators voice sounds computer generated. unfortunate because this is a wonderful book with meaningful insight about navigating today’s world — it’s just plain hard to listen to. in practice of the book, read the print version instead!!!

24 people found this helpful

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the narration is shockingly bad

The voiceover really does a disservice to the work. It's almost hard to comment on the work itself because I'm still trying to figure out how to listen to what feels like Alexa talking at me for 8 hours.

14 people found this helpful

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just cant listen

I wanted to listen to this book, but the narration was too mechanical and irritating.

12 people found this helpful

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Unlistenable

I know that narration is harder than it seems, but this narrator can’t even complete a sentence. She ends a phrase with a level tone (not up, like a question, nor down like a period). It’s just silence and you think it’s a pause but it was the end of a sentence or paragraph. I’ll check this out on kindle.

7 people found this helpful

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worst narrator ever

i thought i could handle the narrator after listening to the sample but it starts to get impossible to listen to by chapter 3. it's too bad because i think i would have gotten a lot from this book had the narration been well-done. i listen to a LOT of audiobooks, 15 in the last two months, and this is the worst narration i've ever heard.

5 people found this helpful

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Not convinced narration is not computer-generated

I find it admirable that the author discovered curiosity about the natural world, but it was hard to listen to the book narrated in this detached voice with a consistently panicked expression, often as if on the verge of tears.

8 people found this helpful

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Long Essay Not A Novel

I love the topic and really enjoy the concept. You need to deliberately refuse certain parts of the attention economy if you're going to live a balanced life. Simply deleting social media apps and running away isn't sustainable. However, the way in which it was delivered felt like listening to a really long essay in which each chapter proves one point, and feels like one long paragraph. I found myself skipping to the next chapter halfway through once I understood the point of it. It is also obviously read by a robot. Sounds like the book is read by Siri. It didn't bother me at first, but once I noticed I could no longer pay attention without the voice distracting me.

8 people found this helpful

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Fresh, interesting ideas - awful narration/voice

I will have to finish this very interesting book - full of new and provocative ideas about how we allocate and employ our attention in the digital age - on paper or kindle. The vocal performance sounds like a robot, absolutely awful.

3 people found this helpful

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Robotic voice

For a book on rediscovering our humanity this reader sounds like a robocall. Actually questioned if the voice was a real person. Could not finish, will just get the physical book to read.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Em
  • 02-26-20

Narrator voice was distracting

The book is good. The narration sounds like a robotic text to voice app. It’s sort of hard to believe it’s a real live person. Made it hard to pay attention

2 people found this helpful