Book cover for How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

How to Do Nothing

by Jenny Odell



It’s not clear what didn’t click with me and this book: in principle it overlaps with many of my interests. It focuses on self reflection through an eco-environmental awareness. It also achieves much of the feel I aim for with the more narrative-driven source/target editions. I was close to giving up on it and likely would have if it wasn’t an audiobook.

I couldn’t shake the feeling of a condescending tone illustrated by unremarkable anecdotes, along with inconsequential nature observation passages that rarely transcended their pat delivery. Lots of mourning what we may have lost in nature with limited calls to action.

The last few years haven’t been kind to the then-topical sections. Breathless anti-Trump passages are beyond weary at this point and date the well-meaning sentiment.

One upside was learning more about Oakland, a place I’ve visited a few times but never digested in full.

I suspect I acquired too much of the media surrounding this book via osmosis back in 2019. The core conceit was unremarkable and covered better elsewhere.