In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honoré

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HarperSanFrancisco.

Canadian-born journalist Carl Honoré, who now resides in London, here reports on what may be the most subtly important phenomenon of our time: the international movements promoting slowness. Slow Food, Slow Cities, Slow Learning, and other like-minded efforts present a vision that may just save us from our current breakneck pursuit of speed and efficiency (and greater productivity) for its own sake, an ongoing trend that has modern society careening toward burnout and nervous exhaustion.

Honoré investigates key areas of contemporary life—eating, urban design, mind-body disciplines, sex, work, leisure, and education—and chronicles the many instances in which the Slow phenomenon is redefining our sense of what's possible and wholesome in these realms. An adventurous and willing participant as well as a sharp-eyed observer, he visits the epicenters of the Slow Food and Slow Cities movements on several continents, goes away on a meditation retreat, takes part (with his wife) in a Tantra workshop, attends a Tempo Giusto (Correct Tempo) concert in Germany, and details his efforts to slow down in his own work and home routines (including learning not to rush through bedtime stories for his young children).

Because Honoré is a crackerjack reporter, his book is full of sobering data (such as the fact that Americans now sleep an average of 90 minutes less per night than they did a century ago)—as well as countless vivid portraits of the people and projects creating a more sustainable way of living. Because he is not a philosopher, we come away from his book longing for a deeper, more probing take on the forces that have so relentlessly accelerated modern life—beyond, that is, the "turbo-capitalism" that he rightly names as one of the culprits—and a more substantive understanding of the spiritual work of slowing ourselves down, individually and collectively. But this minor complaint aside, In Praise of Slowness is an important work, one that will induce greater awareness of our present hurried state—as well as the wholesome alternative.