The best books on slowness

Who am I?

Writer, broadcaster, speaker. I used to be stuck in fast forward, rushing through life instead of living it. I finally realised I needed to slow down when I started speed reading bedtime stories to my son: my version of Snow White had just three dwarves in it! I went on to slow down – and became, in the words of CBC Radio, “the world's leading evangelist for the Slow Movement.”


I wrote...

Book cover of In Praise of Slow: Challenging the Cult of Speed

What is my book about?

Our compulsion to hurry and the global trend towards slowing down everything from work to food to parenting. The core message: In a world addicted to speed, slowness is a superpower. In Praise of Slow is a global bestseller published in over 35 languages. The Financial Times said it is “to the Slow Movement what Das Kapital is to communism.” 

While researching In Praise of Slow, I got slapped with a speeding ticket….

The books I picked & why

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Faster: The Acceleration of Just about Everything

By James Gleick,

Book cover of Faster: The Acceleration of Just about Everything

Why this book?

The first book I read to research the cult of speed. It's an exhaustive and chilling catalogue of our chronic impatience: how long we wait on hold before hanging up; how soon we start stabbing the Close Door button in an elevator. The book itself is a little breathless, and it confirmed my suspicion that everything was speeding up – with diminishing returns.

Faster: The Acceleration of Just about Everything

By James Gleick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Faster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Time is the datum that rules our lives. The frenetic purpose - more than we want to admit - is to save time. Think of one of those conveniences that best conveys the most elemental feeling of power over the passing seconds: the microwave oven. In your "hurry sickness" you may find yourself punching 88 seconds instead of 90 because it is faster to tap the same digit twice. Do you stand at the microwave for that minute and a half? Or is that long enough to make a quick call or run in the next room to finish paying…


Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

By Eric Schlosser,

Book cover of Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

Why this book?

Food is so much more than fuel for the body. It's bound up with love and pleasure, nature and identity, memory and meaning. So we pay a high price when what we eat is cultivated, cooked, and consumed in a hurry. This book opened my eyes to the full horrors of the fast-food juggernaut. It also inspired me to devote the first chapter of In Praise of Slow to food.

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

By Eric Schlosser,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Fast Food Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now the subject of a film by Richard Linklater, Eric Schlosser's explosive bestseller Fast Food Nation: What the All-American Meal is Doing to the World tells the story of our love affair with fast food.

Britain eats more fast food than any other country in Europe. It looks good, tastes good, and it's cheap. But the real cost never appears on the menu.

Eric Schlosser visits the lab that re-creates the smell of strawberries; examines the safety records of abattoirs; reveals why the fries really taste so good and what lurks between the sesame buns - and shows how fast…


In Praise of Idleness: The Classic Essay with a New Introduction by Bradley Trevor Greive

By Bertrand Russell,

Book cover of In Praise of Idleness: The Classic Essay with a New Introduction by Bradley Trevor Greive

Why this book?

Published in 1932, this essay hails from an era long before side hustles, smartphones and social media. And yet it still feels fresh and relevant today. Russell saw the cult of work as a form of social control – you keep people down by keeping them working. His view that more time for leisure would create a kinder, gentler society chimes with the Slow philosophy. In Praise of Idleness is a delicious paean to the art of doing things – or nothing at all – for the sheer joy of it.

In Praise of Idleness: The Classic Essay with a New Introduction by Bradley Trevor Greive

By Bertrand Russell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Praise of Idleness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bertrand Russell is considered “the Voltaire of his time,” and Bradley Trevor Greive is considered one of the funniest people of his. Russell was a Nobel Laureate, and Greive is a New York Times bestselling author. Together, with Russell bringing the philosophy and Greive bringing the hilarious commentary, this book is a classic.

In his celebrated essay, In Praise of Idleness, Russell champions the seemingly incongruous notion that realizing our full potential―and thus enjoying the greatest possible success and happiness―is not accomplished by working harder or smarter, but through harnessing the extraordinary power of idleness.

Russell’s penetrating insights and exquisite…


The Discovery of Slowness

By Sten Nadolny,

Book cover of The Discovery of Slowness

Why this book?

A gripping novel based on the life and death of John Franklin, a 19th century Arctic explorer. Franklin was by nature slow, and therefore out of step with the times. At school, other kids teased him for never having a ready comeback. Later, slowness became his superpower, a source of deep thinking, care, and wisdom. Franklin was an early avatar of the Slow movement!

The Discovery of Slowness

By Sten Nadolny,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Discovery of Slowness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Framing the life of the nineteenth-century explorer Sir John Franklin, this novel explores not only the adventures of his career, but also enters a world where the quality of life is considered in "slow motion", where ordinary experience becomes wholly new and unexpected.


Slowness

By Milan Kundera,

Book cover of Slowness

Why this book?

I love the way Kundera grapples with big ideas through finely-wrought fiction. I devoured this novel in a single sitting. It explores the romantic entanglements of characters who seem at first unconnected. But it's also a meditation on speed, technology, and slowness, and how these shape our experience of the world, other people, and ourselves. Kundera suggests that slowness opens the way to wisdom and sensuality, memory, and the milk of human kindness. A slower world, he seems to be saying, would be a better world. A beguiling journey through the philosophical underpinnings of the Slow movement.

Slowness

By Milan Kundera,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slowness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Milan Kundera's lightest novel, a divertimento, an opera buffa, Slowness is also the first of this author's fictional works to have been written in French.

Disconcerted and enchanted, the reader follows the narrator of Slowness through a midsummer's night in which two tales of seduction, separated by more than two hundred years, interweave and oscillate between the sublime and the comic. Underlying this libertine fantasy is a profound meditation on contemporary life: about the secret bond between slowness and memory, about the connection between our era's desire to forget and the way we have given ourselves over to the demon…


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