We live in the age of speed. We strain to be more efficient, to cram more into each minute, each hour, each day. Since the Industrial Revolution shifted the world into high gear, the cult of speed has pushed us to a breaking point. Consider these facts: Americans on average spend 72 minutes of every day behind the wheel of a car, a typical business executive now loses 68 hours a year to being put on hold, and American adults currently devote on average a mere half hour per week to making love.
Living on the edge of exhaustion, we are constantly reminded by our bodies and minds that the pace of life is spinning out of control. In Praise of Slowness traces the history of our increasingly breathless relationship with time and tackles the consequences of living in this accelerated culture of our own creation. Why are we always in such a rush? What is the cure for time sickness? Is it possible or even desirable to slow down? Realizing the price we pay for unrelenting speed, people all over the world are reclaiming their time and slowing down the pace - and living happier, healthier, and more productive lives as a result. A Slow revolution is taking place.
Here you will find no Luddite calls to overthrow technology and seek a preindustrial utopia. This is a modern revolution championed by cell-phone using, emailing lovers of sanity. The Slow philosophy can be summed up in a single word: balance. People are discovering energy and efficiency where they may have been least expected - in slowing down.
In this engaging and entertaining exploration, award-winning journalist and rehabilitated speedaholic Carl Honoré details our perennial love affair with efficiency and speed in a perfect blend of anecdotal reportage, history, and intellectual inquiry. In Praise of Slowness is the first comprehensive look at the worldwide Slow movements making their way into the mainstream - in offices, factories, neighborhoods, kitchens, hospitals, concert halls, bedrooms, gyms, and schools. Defining a movement that is here to stay, this spirited manifesto will make you completely rethink your relationship with time.
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Important subject-matter, but misses the mark
Carl Honoré's "In Praise of Slowness" is a well-researched and thorough argument for the far-reaching benefits of slowing down, with plenty of examples of how the trend is taking hold worldwide and in many different arenas of life.
I am passionate about this important topic and appreciate the care with which the author treats it. But I also found the presentation of the material to be oddly disjoint from its theme -- to me, the book itself feels more self-help and less persuasion, and is somewhat combative: full of facts and arguments, with the extensive use of words and phrases like "cult of speed," "crusade," and "movement". In other words, the impression the book leaves me with is more "fast" than I find comfortable, given the subject-matter and intent. Perhaps the intense narration somewhat reinforces this impression, especially knowing that the narrator is also the author.
In contrast, the exceptionally beautiful and deeply medatative "World Enough & Time" by Christian McEwen, exudes slowness -- and by virtue of deeply fulfilling its intent is far more persuastive and attractive in comparison.
Nevertheless, I do appreciate what Mr. Honoré has done and applaud him for taking on this deeply-ingrained cultural issue, even if it's done in a way I do not entirely resonate with.
- J. Kain