How to be Idle, by Hodgkinson

Tom Hodgkinson’s book How to Be Idle catches my attention because it reminds me of the fourteenth-century Japanese essayist Kenko’s Essays in Idleness (which Hodgkinson unfortunately does not mention among his roster of idle “idols”). Hodgkinson has that wry British sense of humor that leaves you wondering how serious he is about anything or is he just pulling your leg. His tone, witticisms and broad-minded reading is infectious, just right for perusing in — what else — idle moods and moments.

The book’s chapters are divided into the hours of the day, starting with “8 a.m.: Waking Up is Hard to Do.” Favorites are “5 p.m: The Ramble,” “Midnight: The Moon and the Stars,” and “4 a.m.: Meditation.”

I leave out the drinking and smoking and sex chapters. The whole mood is admittedly a bit too decadent, intentionally so. And the author is too slothful to fully press the logic behind his aversions to modern productivity, labor, technology, busyness, and the automotons that captains of authority want to make of us all.

The section on tea sums things nicely for me:

Coffee is for winners, go-getters, tea-ignorers, lunch-cancellers, early risers, guilt-ridden strivers, money obsessives, and status-driven spiritually empty lunatics. It is an enervative force. We should resist and embrace tea, the ancient drink of poets, philosophers and meditators.