How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
Black Inc., $29.99
Reading this book brought to mind the Daoist notion of ‘‘wu wei’’: non-doing or effortless action in harmony with the forces of the universe. For Jenny Odell, doing nothing is a paradoxical form of resistance to the relentless logic of productivity and social media that keeps us in a ‘‘state of anxiety, envy, and distraction’’. While she recognises that being able to ‘‘do nothing’’ might be seen as a luxury, she is not talking about leisure or privilege but about actively reclaiming time and space for reflection rather than running ever faster in the hamster wheel of FOMO and digital addiction. Ruminative and free-wheeling, How To Do Nothing canvases ways to create a ‘‘third space’’ in the attention economy, larger forms of interconnectedness and how we might begin to think outside the capitalist box.
The Lion and the Nightingale
I.B. Tauris, $36.99
Throughout Turkish history, says novelist and essayist Kaya Genc, the Nightingale – symbol of literature, song and romance – has been at odds with the Lion, representative of the military and power. While he identifies with the former, Genc is well aware that the relationship between the two groups in modern Turkey is far from black and white. In this uneasy exploration of life under the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Genc chisels away at the cracks in the Turkish psyche – the gap between the public and the private, between the liberals and the conservatives, between longing for freedom and the attraction of safety promised by the strongman. After a year spent chronicling the turmoil in his country through the stories of ordinary people, he ends on a note of bewilderment, fearing that in the new Turkey, homo economicus has won the day.
From the day she arrived at the orphanage in Haiti run by bestselling author Mitch Albom and his wife, Janine, three year-old Chika was ‘‘a bossy ball of fire who was soon directing the other kids like a drill sergeant’’. When she was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of five, the Alboms brought her to America for treatment and in the process, they became a family. Finding Chika is written in the second person, addressed to Chika who randomly appears to Albom after her death urging him to write her story. It’s a narrative strategy that risks mawkishness but Albom, best known for Tuesdays with Morrie, makes it work, skilfully capturing Chika’s forthright, playful nature and the distinctive nature of the bond between them. ‘‘We did not lose a child. We were given one. And she was glorious.’’