Cover Image: Saving Time

Saving Time

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Member Reviews

How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy was a staff recommendation and Saving Time will be as well. I think readers of How to Do Nothing will love this.
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If you're looking for a book to help you fit more into your day, this is not the book for you! Odell brilliantly breaks down time and how it is managed in our capitalist society and discusses how we can live a vibrant life beyond those constraints. Odell can get pretty existential at times, but open your mind and take it all in!
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Odell does it again. This is not a quick, light read but neither is it an inaccessible academic tome. I enjoyed the framing of the text as a journey around different "biomes" of the bay area which adds a less dense and needed respite from the well-researched and fact and quote heavy meat of the book. If all of us were moving through our lives with the soft and careful attention of Jenny Odell, the world would be a better place.
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Saving Time was the 2nd, more dense, sister to How to Do Nothing, which I enjoyed more than this one. Saving Time was certainly well-researched, as it includes not just the author's opinions, but philosophy, and facts. It was tough to get through at points, but the overall message was impactful.
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The deal: Jenny Odell (author of How To Do Nothing) gives the Jenny Odell treatment to the concept of time. This comes out in March; I got an ARC from NetGalley.

Is it worth it?: I cannot not recommend this, but it also took me almost three months to finish. It is dense—absolutely packed with ideas, research, and philosophy. I’m not even going to pretend that I fully understood all of it, but I also don’t really believe in an all-or-nothing approach to non-fiction, especially non-fiction that’s challenging for my internet-ruined brain. So yes, it was worth it in the way that difficult things often are.

Pairs well with: If you’re interested in exploring the idea of time, I recommend starting with Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management For Mortals by Oliver Burkeman first, and then if you still want more (both in terms of depth and in terms of more intersectional framing), grabbing Saving Time. It’s not a bad idea to read How To Do Nothing first — I found it easier to digest/absorb/etc. Plus, it’s a helpful primer into Odell’s writing/thinking style. Although not a series, some of the ideas of her first book are expanded upon or referenced in Saving Time.

A-
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An amazing companion to her previous book. Has me reframing how I think about time. Kind of amazing and I'm excited for her press tour on this.
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Odell can really do no wrong in my eyes, and this book was a worthy followup to How To Do Nothing, which is one of my favorite works of non-fiction. The only downside to this book was the length of the chapters, which sometimes felt ambitious (though this also could have felt differently reading a physical book). Overall this book left me with many new questions and ways of perceiving daily life, which is what I read it for.
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Jenny Odell is incredibly gifted at taking a long, hard look at our way of life and spinning it on its head. How To Do Nothing was an incredible insight into disconnecting from the noisy world, and just sit in quiet contemplation. Saving Time looks into time itself and how we use it in our lives. Why we do things a certain way, and how we can possibly change it in the future. Just a magical book.
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My sense is that Jenny Odell’s newest is being marketed as a kind of theory of time, both academic and accessible, intellectual achievement with a touch of self-help. As a work of theory, I found that it mostly collated and framed existing work—a diverse body of sources, from Marx’s Capital to Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Gathering Moss. Because I was familiar with a lot of Odell’s source texts, I found myself skimming some theoretical sections, though I did enjoy her selections of things that were new to me. If you’re not literally writing a dissertation chapter about time, you might get more out of these parts of the book than I did. Odell covers time as colonial, pandemic time, time as labor exploitation.

What I liked most about this book was unexpected—I thought it was a remarkable piece of nature writing. Throughout the book, italicized text describes a journey through Northern California, landscapes that are traditionally “natural” (such as redwood forests) and ostensibly “unnatural” (Facebook headquarters). The way Odell reads time in these spaces has echoes of Aldo Leopold and Rebecca Solnit. My favorite chapter located itself at Bean Hollow State Beach, one of my favorite spaces, where you can see and feel time scales in the weathered, striated rocks. All of these sections pair nicely with the book’s interventions about time and climate change. I hope this book finds readers who are interested in thoughtful environmental writing.
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Lots of disparate thoughts here (much like this book), but I will try to capture them all:

Thought number one: Jenny Odell seems more interested/able to keep her head in a place of existentialism (including existential dread) than I really care to for my own mental well-being. Particularly in the early sections, in which she describes the complexity and intentionality behind the late stage capitalism in which we find ourselves, as well as her deep dives on climate anxiety—which are numerous—I just found myself getting overwhelmed with the level of loss presented here, and the lack of grounding in imagination/envisioning other worlds (although she does reference that she thinks this could be a solution).

Thought number two: this book basically covers a lot of topics that I have been thinking deeply about for at least the past 6 months (or arguably longer) and I have come to a lot of the same conclusions as Odell, but feel like I have taken a more pragmatic/imaginative/solutions-based approach. This meant I was often frustrated by her lack of imagination/inspiration in those areas.

Thought number three: Compared to How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, the structure both across and within chapters felt a lot more stream of consciousness, which makes it difficult to synthesize concrete conclusions about her thinking; but then again, I think that is part of the goal (in that some of her conclusions are that ideas are iterative and evolving).

Thought number four: The way that she incorporates intersectionality also felt a bit off to me—almost kind of jerking the reader with these very explicit and abrupt reminders that a lot of this book doesn’t actually apply to many people who are more deeply impacted by capitalism/climate change/the prison industrial complex/etc, which is a good point, but I feel like is also obvious? To any reader of this book.

All in all, I think this gave me a lot of food for thought, and I think readers of How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy will like this follow-up, but there were some very specific personal things that meant it was not fully a success. Thanks to Random House (also excited that a big publishing house is taking on these topics in its primary imprint, that’s exciting) for the early review copy of this— Saving Time comes out March 7, 2023.
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Since the pandemic lockdowns began in March 2020, many of us have felt we've lost our sense of time. Even now, we might say that time feels meaningless, uncertain whether it has expanded or shrunk in our perception, but one thing we know for sure is that we just don't seem to have enough of it.

Odell's book explores our social history of time, especially how it has come to be equated to our labor or money, and seeks to separate that bond so that we can have a fuller definition and experience of time in its many facets. Not all minutes are equal, Odell points out, and not everyone's time is valued equally in a capitalist society, but by connecting to the ever-growing and changing experience of time in the natural world and in our relationships, we can find ways to live more fully in the time available to us.

A thought-provoking book, one worth savoring slowly.

Thank you, Random House and NetGalley, for providing an eARC of this book. Opinions expressed here are solely my own.
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I would have put this in the history or sociology category. It is interesting, but I didn't find it particularly helpful in terms of how I view time or my place in it. I'm sure some will find it interesting and helpful.

Thanks very much for the free ARC for review!!
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This is such a lovely book. Reading it felt like having a therapist and a yoga teacher guiding me at all times! This isn’t your usual “self help” book. Highly recommend!
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While this book might be thought as self help, it's so much more.  The author talks about time, the world around us, and how we can change our lives by rethinking time as we've known it.  I struggle with the concept of time and speeding through life, but this book made me think that we can benefit more from understanding we are all connected.  This is really a wonderful, unique book. 
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for an e-ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.
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The "self-help" label for this book is a misnomer. Odell's attention throughout SAVING TIME is on the ways time links us to one another and the environment and how we might help everyone and the planet through rethinking our conception of time. As with her first book, SAVING TIME offers much grist for contemplation, introducing and synthesizing various themes and texts into a beautiful tapestry. It is not the sort of book that one can come to a clear judgment after reading; its purpose is to linger. This excellent book will no doubt be widely read and widely enjoyed—and rightfully.
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I love Jenny Odell’s “How to do Nothing,” and I was so excited to get an advanced copy of Saving Time. This is my kind of “self-help”book—one that combines a bit of everything—history, literature, and musings to help us understand the way time has been commodified for our capitalistic-driven society. Like “How to Do Nothing,” this was a read I didn’t want to speed through for rush of missing key takeaways but always because, duh, speeding through something is precisely what the book argues against. This is one I’ll return to again and again to remind me that time is weird and we can find a better relationship with it.
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