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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.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Story

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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...

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Steve
  • McKees Rocks, PA, United States
  • 09-28-15

Does this book get any better?

Any additional comments?

So far I have only been able to listen to 2 hours of this book, and I can't believe it hasn't gotten to the point yet. I thought I was buying a book that would help overwhelmed people work on their problems. All she does is complain then entire time about how busy people are and how inequitably it falls to females vs males. It stresses me out more to listen to her than when I started the book. I keep trying to listen longer because at some point she must have something good to say, right? The thought of listening to her complain more in an unconstructive fashion on my commute each morning leaves me looking for anything else to listen to instead.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Pedantically Uptight

What would have made Overwhelmed better?

A pedantic approach to preach to the choir. Simply listening made me feel uptight. Pure leisure for me might be warming myself by the fire that I might build using the pages of this book-oh, I forgot…the virtual nature means I’ll burn it metaphorically.

Would you ever listen to anything by Brigid Schulte again?

Hopefully not

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Can't think of one

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Pleasantly surprised

I was worried that this book would be full of complaining about being too busy with no solutions. It actually had some great information and helped me to shift my perspective. I will also use this information when thinking about my employees and their own family obligations.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Nailed it!

My husband and I were listening to this book together, and at one point, he paused it and said, "Are you sure YOU didn't write this book?" 😜

I identified on every level. A must read for all modern moms, dads, and people in general.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Reassuring and moderately helpful

I felt this book gave good insight into alternatives for our overwhelming lifestyles, but like most self help, making this changes is much harder. I did like the interviews with the Danish families.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Toby
  • Portsmouth, NH, United States
  • 04-28-14

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.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful