BOOK REVIEW: How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

  1. What is your favorite quote from the book and why do you find it meaningful?

My favorite quote from the book is “The point of doing nothing, as I define it, isn’t to return to work refreshed and ready to be more productive, but rather to question what we currently perceive as productive.” I found it very meaningful because it makes me think of what truly is the term “doing nothing”. I found that when I reflect on this quote, I often go back to work aimlessly only with a rest well body, but haven’t concluded any problems or any questions that go to the point this far.

2. Why do you think this book, released by indie publishing house Melville Press, has become an unexpected bestseller in Corona Times?

The book has become an unexpected bestseller in Corona Times is because, during the pandemic, people start to have time to concentrate on their own inner side and their body. People get to have time to think about how to spend their day, what to do in a day.

The book is teaching us ways to concentrate on our intrinsic value instead of using our phone to log on to social media and is only seeing the superficial things. Covid 19 is a great time to be calmed and listen more to the heart.

3. How does the attention economy benefit from our social media activity and media streaming consumption?

The attention economy is a resource that cannot be bought by money as the users pay the service or information, they receive online through the attention. According to Matthew Crawford, “Attention is a resource — a person has only so much of it.”Social media attracts the users, from which celebrities and companies profit.

4. How does this book relate to the topic of celebrity culture?

This book related to the topic of celebrity culture since celebrity is our common daily entertainment and we could see all sorts of news and information of various celebrities through different platforms.

5. Do you take digital detox breaks? If yes, describe them. Have they been more challenging during the quarantine era? Why?

I often take digital detox breaks. My mom is a Buddhist so I am influenced by her. In the morning, we would burn the sandalwood and sit on the chair to drink tea and enjoy the slowed downtime without using our phones. Especially during the quarantine era, it is very important to take a break since we use devices to contact, zoom in to have online classes. It is needed to detox ourselves.

6. Do you sleep with your phone or computer? Are you aware of impacts on your sleep cycles and relaxation caused by overnight proximity?

I do sleep with my phone charging next to me and I realized that I often want to take a look at it whenever I have a hard time falling asleep. After I checked the time on my phone, it makes me even harder to fall asleep. And putting my phone next to me makes me anxious at night.

7. What is the role of nature in Odell’s book, in particular the role of birds? (P.S. Did you know that birdwatching has become a HUGE pastime in the Covid era with a Snow Owl becoming a celebrity in NYC’s Central Park? )

Odell states that bird watching be rethought as bird listening. Bird watching suggests an active pursuit. The sensory stimulation we find in nature is good for us. And nature is very important to humans.

8. Experiment: Leave your phone at home for one hour to talk a walk in your neighborhood. Write down your observations when you return and draw a map of your path. What did you observe? Take a photo of your map to include in your book review. Did the experience provide any revelations? Were you anxious, relieved, inspired? Did you notice anything you’d never seen before?

I was anxious at first that I wouldn’t find my way back since I am very bad at directions and I often rely on my phone to navigate. But this time, when I didn’t bring my phone, I found myself very concentrating on the environment and my inner voice including my heartbeats and my body parts movements. I heard noises on the streets, horns, bicycle sounds, wind blowing through my ears…

9. What does Odell mean by ‘doing nothing?’ Are we capable of doing nothing?

Odell’s meaning of ‘doing nothing’ is not to do nothing but to do things we don’t normally do such as feeling nature: smelling a flower, hearing the wind…The nothingness has a deeper meaning which is to take a pause from our tech day, getting rid of our phones and computers, listen to the environment, nature and ourselves.