Apr 9, 2011

In Praise of Slowness

How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed
by Carl Honore

Journalist Carl Honore believes that the modern world moves at much too rapid a pace. People spend too many hours on the job, eat their meals too quickly, cram their schedules, drive too fast, etc. etc. In Praise of Slowness looks at how our lives have come to be so hectic, and what many people in countries all over the world are doing to counteract that. It's not just about freeing up your schedule a bit and finding time to relax. It's about rejuvenating your mental capacities, finding creativity, making time for your family, eating healthier and so much more. I've heard about the Slow Food movement before, but I didn't know there was also a Slow Cities movement- where small towns are being designed to encourage people to walk more, for example. I expected to read about people finding ways to get away from the rat race, but was surprised by a chapter about slower ways of doing exercise- promoting tai chi, yoga and SuperSlow (weightlifting) over fast aerobics or jogging, for example. There's also a section on taking your time with intimacy, on doctors spending more time with patients (which looks at both the traditional medical establishment and alternative medicine) and even one about music. I was totally unaware there's a movement centered on the idea that most classical music is played twice as fast (or more) than it was originally intended to be. Concerts now perform well-known classical pieces at a much slower pace, and people get an entirely different impression of them. Full of curiosity, I visited the sight for Longplayer, a piece of music played on Tibetan 234 singing bowls- the performance began on Dec 31st 1999 and is supposed to take until the year 2999 to complete. I've been listening to an audiostream of the performance while writing this. It's quite hauntingly beautiful.

So, a bit more about the book- I also appreciated the chapter on allowing kids to have more free time, not jamming their lives full of lessons and schedules to keep up with everyone else (reminded me of a lot of things in Confessions of a Slacker Mom). Overall the broad impression I came away with was the idea that by taking things at a more reasonable pace (even slowing down your very thought process) and doing less, we can achieve more, and have a better quality of life. It's about having more focus, and less drive to just get things done done done. I like that message.

I don't remember how this book first got on my TBR. I borrowed a copy from the public library.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 310 pages, 2004


Bybee said...

A very interesting concept. I wonder if it would be a shock to our systems.

bermudaonion said...

Wow, I think that's probably a great concept that we should all try to incorporate in our lives. My son's only 23 and I swear kids' lives weren't as overloaded when he was younger as they are now.

Nari @ The Novel World said...

I really like the concept of this book. It so easy to get burnt out running around and always mutli-tasking throughout the day. I could use some tips on how to slow down and actually learn to focus on doing one thing at a time.

Anonymous said...

Does it talk about Slow Travel? That's one of my favorites. I hadn't heard of this book, though...it sounds like a winner!

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

This one is on my TBR too -- I think I found it as one of those "Recommended Books" when looking at something else on Amazon. I've been really into books about simple lives lately, too.