How to Be Idle

How to Be Idle

Book - 2005
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Baker & Taylor
Presents a whimsical antidote to today's work-obsessed culture, sharing a twenty-four-hour guide to achieving happiness while living leisurely.


With advice, information, and reflection on such matters as lying in, long lunches, the art of the nap, and how to skive, How to Be Idle gives you all the inspiration you need to take a break from your fast-paced, overworked life.

From the founding editor of the 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 -- bemoaning the cultural skepticism of idleness while reflecting on the writing of such famous apologists for it as Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Johnson, and Nietzsche -- all of whom have admitted to doing their very best work in bed.

It's a well-known fact that Europeans spend fewer hours at work a week than Americans. So it's only befitting that one of them -- the very clever, extremely engaging, and quite hilarious Hodgkinson -- should have the wittiest and most useful insights into the fun and nature of loafing.

Who wouldn't want to blow off work for a day and just "be idle"? The key to a life of pleasure, freedom, and guilt-free lounging around is in your hands.

& Taylor

A founding editor of The Idler presents a whimsical antidote to today's work-obsessed culture, sharing a twenty-four-hour guide to achieving happiness while living leisurely. 40,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, c2005
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780060779689
Characteristics: 286 p. : ill. ; 19 cm


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Jul 27, 2014

Great book - fun and more practical than you think.

Also recommended -International Institute of Not Doing Much at

Jul 11, 2013

Ahhhh....My husband must have wondered why I was reading this book - he probably thinks I wrote it. I wish I had! But I certainly agree with much of what Hodgkinson says. If only the whole world would read this book - and then take it to heart - and sloooow down, relax, take it easy, chill. Enjoy the moments, have a nice drink, eat some good slow food, go for a ramble, hang at the pub with friends, have a really good conversation, have a nap or a good lie-in in the morning: people who never do these things have forgotten how to live. I'm beginning to agree with Hodgkinson: the 18th century really does seem to have been the most enlightened one. Found this book a little slow in places, but I idled my way through those and just thoroughly enjoyed the rest. Pass the Cinzano - on the rocks with a twist, please - I'm settling in with the next good read. Housework? What's that? Nothing urgent, I'm sure....

Apr 01, 2010

I read this a few years back and loved it. Lots of fun.

Sep 23, 2009

This is a great read--both fun and serious. But the author assumes a male readership, which I found off-putting and frustrating at times, since plenty of women are more than interested in idling ...


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