From the founding editor of The Idler, the celebrated magazine about the freedom and fine art of doing nothing, comes not simply a book, but an antidote to our work-obsessed culture. In How to Be Idle, Tom Hodgkinson presents his learned yet whimsical argument for a new universal standard of living: being happy doing nothing. He covers a whole spectrum of issues affecting the modern idler—sleep, work, pleasure, relationships—while reflecting on the writing of such famous apologists for it as Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Nietzsche—all of whom have admitted to doing their very best work in bed.
When your alarm clock jolts you awake in the morning, do you wish you could just lie in bed, read a book, sip a cup of tea and be idle all day? Hodgkinson, founder of the Idler magazine, does. And in this book he presents 24 essays defending life's idle pleasures, which are, he says, vilified by our modern society. He meditates on sleeping in, fishing, smoking and drinking, and even waxes poetic about the hangover. The whole book is soaked with nostalgia for the turn-of-the-century English gentleman's lifestyle; Hodgkinson defends his arguments by quoting Jerome K. Jerome, G.K. Chesterton and, of course, that icon of British foppery, Oscar Wilde. Although billed as tongue-in-cheek witticisms about the idle life, the book fails to maintain the comic tone. In his chapter on the evils of the 9-to-5 job ("wage slavery," as the author calls it), Hodgkinson cites Heinrich Himmler as a spokesperson for the defense of work, tacitly comparing shuffling papers in a cubicle for 40 hours a week to the horrors of Auschwitz. The book gives tantalizing anthropological insights into society's views on those lazy habits that the author so enjoys, but the viewpoint is so antiquated and condescending toward the poor slobs who must actually go to work every day that readers will often find themselves staring aghast at the page. B&w line illus.