The Best Books On Slowness

The Books I Picked & Why

Faster: The Acceleration of Just about Everything

By James Gleick

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.


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

By Eric Schlosser

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.


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

By Bertrand Russell

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.


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The Discovery of Slowness

By Sten Nadolny

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!


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Slowness

By Milan Kundera

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.


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