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The Joy of Not Working: A Book for the Retired, Unemployed and Overworked

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  714 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Ernie Zelinski could change your view of the world forever. He has already taught more than 150,000 people what THE JOY OF NOT WORKING is all about: learning to live every part of your life-employment, unemployment, retirement, and leisure time alike-to the fullest. With this completely revised and expanded edition, you too can join the thousands of converts and learn to t ...more
Paperback, 21st Century Edition, 240 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Ten Speed Press (first published September 1st 1992)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  714 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Oct 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
A fairly pretentious, judgmental, poorly-written book about the joys of unemployment and retirement, packed with contradictions and boring anecdotes. It has plenty of insightful quotes and statistics, but the author doesn't specifically reference a single one of them. Nonetheless, I just had to read this book because its subject matter is practically my religion, but I was extremely disappointed. I know a big reason is that it's all so old-hat and obvious to me by now. It helped to read the lett ...more
Alain Burrese
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed “The Joy Of Not Working: A book for the retired, unemployed, and overworked” by Ernie J. Zelinski. It's a quick read that can motivate one to live a more full and engaging life. However, you must read it as a book encouraging you to not be a slave to work and to enjoy life instead, rather than a book telling you to quit working and be a deadbeat. I give this caution because at least one person took the book this way and wrote to Zelinski stating he was telling people to not work and li ...more
Mar 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is one of two books that I credit for inspiring me to pick up and move out to the West Coast. I read this while working slave hours at Deloitte as an auditor and after reading this book, I finally began to realize that my time here on this earth is valuable (priceless actually) and there's a million other things I could be doing with it besides working for the man 12 hours a day. ...more
Nancy Day
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
You have to admire a guy with an ego as well-established as Zelinski. And he's obviously having a lot of fun. I did get a few ideas on things I might do to psychologically prepare for retirement (my goal), but that encompassed about 1/100th of the book. His main theses can be summed up by: Money isn't that great; stop working so hard; don't be materialistic; figure out what's important to you; enjoy life. None of these are earth-shattering ideas, and they're not presented with much real analysis ...more
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I wanted to really like this book, but the first half was pretty much a condemnation of working for a living. Working is not bad if it is fun and/or interesting. It can be a problem if you are trapped into overworking at a job that is not engaging. The second half of the book was more useful with ideas of what to do and not do when not working.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2012
An interesting book about enhancing your life through enjoying leisure more. While I was hoping for more of a "How To" book, this was more of a "Why To" book. Still, it's a good way of shaking off guilt from others who want you to work your way into an early grave. ...more
Mar 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
Maybe this book has things to say if you aren't already introspective or creative. ...more
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
really deserves 5 stars, even though i found some parables really lame and boring and the illustrations as well..
also he might be very controversial: for example he says let's have leisure for leisure's sake and then he says leisure is really lame without a "purpose", "goals" and "planning" and lots of scary words that he used..
also he was like at the end of his book:" don't look for happiness in your leisure time", if i'm not going to be happy when would i pursue happiness?
I also blame Ernie
Hal Schoolcraft
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely wonderful book! Highly recommend it to anyone currently retired, but it is probably even more useful to those not yet retired. It offers much good advice as to the benefits of retiring as early as possible, and what to do with yourself to maximize your enjoyment of your new-found leisure time. Highly beneficial to anyone that might qualify as a workaholic, who might feel like they've lost their identity once their career has come to an end.

In my case, it served as justification and v
Malin Friess
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is more about living well...and creating priorities for success and happiness.

Have a good attitude
Satisfy 3 important goals (whether employed, retired, unemployed)- structure, purpose, community
Seek active activities over passive
Strive for personal growth, recognition, responsibility and achievement

5 stars. A good writer.
Sep 03, 2010 added it
Some good things to think about - whether you're working or not. Mostly a book about finding life balance. The author spends a little too much time in the book telling everyone how editions 1-20 changed his readers lives (1/4 of the book are letters from his fans). ...more
Jan 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Even though I agree with a lot of what's in this book, I am not sure how realistic it can be for many people to just quit working. However, there is much wisdom here about what is important in life, and how to recognize it and how to strike that hard to achieve "work/life balance. ...more
Abdulrhman Diabi
the best self-improvement book i ve ever read
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this while between jobs. What struck me immediately was the similarity I had in my reaction to this book as I had in my reaction to "Rich Dad, Poor Dad." Both books are heavy on anecdotes - references from the past/readers/"I heard" and the like. It makes them quite lighthearted to read, but a bit "unserious" for lack of a better word. That doesn't mean they aren't, it's just a stylistic thing. I read part of the book, set it aside, and came back to it and finished it pretty quickly. It's ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
It's obvious that the author enjoys not working. I don't argue against Zelinski's point the idea that North Americans place too much value on financial security at the cost of happiness, family, friends and years of our lives. However, he presents this notion with very little empirical data. The book is largely opinion. Zelinski's expertise appears to be that of a TV talk show host or a radio announcer that has a show where their title is doctor. This Dr. Phil approach of "they say" hammers home ...more
Aug 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
Despite saying it is a book for the "retired, unemployed, and overworked" it is really just a book for the overworked trying to inspire them to break free from the shackles of 9-5 corporate work.

The chapters are:

1: You don't have to have a job!
2: You can be creative if you try!
3: Man, working is just the worst
4: You can work less, really...and it might make your work more effective, even!
5: When you don't have a job telling you who to be, you have to figure it out for yourself

and so eve
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
* Dick Phillips - 30 year career and then retired - already had a pension I'm sure and close to "normal" retirement age - probably doesn't have to worry about $$

* Rita - How is this person paying for anything? Food, shelter?

* Les - See Rita

* Karen Hall - Had to go back to work - will probably hate that job too

* Lynn Tillon - Still working same job, changed attitude

* Ian - See Rita

* Ian - Oh I see, his investments... where did that $ come from.

* Joy Barlow - She freed herself from her JOB and go
Tim Daughters
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I got this book when I was contemplating retiring. I wanted some ideas about what to do with my abundant free time. The first half of this book goes on and on about how and why the reader shouldn't be a workaholic. That wasn't me. I enjoyed my work, but enjoy my leisure, too.

Eventually, the author does get into what you might do with your free time, and what you should seek to have a fulfilling life. Again, he gets very repetitive in hammering his point home.

I did retire about half way through t
Debbie Jacob
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a good book to read for people who are retiring, but it turns out that it is a book everyone should read because it's important to think about our relationship to our jobs. Are we nothing more than the jobs we do? Do our jobs make us happy? Do we have the guts to quit our jobs and pursue creative endeavors? There are so many questions to think about in this highly inspirational book. Every sentence is food for thought. I wish I would have read this long ago. It is definitely h ...more
Sandy Maguire
Nov 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got about half way through this book before realizing it hadn't actually given me any concrete suggestions about what to do with my time. A lot of it was "you TOO can live a great retired life!" but never got around to telling me how to do it. Just how great it would be when I did! Maybe the book gets better at the end, but I realized I didn't trust the author enough to get anything of value out of it. ...more
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is practical and philosophical. It is designed to celebrate a full, rich life based on embracing all of your interests and personality and enjoying the journey during work and leisure time with personal fulfillment. Highly recommend it!
Mark Bates
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
25% good advice and 75% crap.
Brett Kronewitter
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great ideas regarding how to use your leisure time not only to retirees but also for workers as well.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
The cartoons and quotes are great. I didn't love the use of letters from adoring fans to make Zelinki's points. A very cursory overview of aspects of life to consider in retirement. ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really don't understand why people like his books. ...more
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: finances
A positive, easy read promoting the value of leisure, personal growth, and time well-spent.
A great book for easing any guilt about not torturing oneself with an excessively ambitious work-life.
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A must-read book for all ages individuals. I really enjoyed the book. The all tips, actions, cases are explained to a great extent.
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
A refreshing perspective on what the purpose of life is. An interesting alternative to the idea that productivity = value.
Jun 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read and re-read this book years before “retirement “ age.
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, non-fiction
It’s hard to be negative about such positive book. The author is pleasantly relentless in pushing the upsides of opting out of the rat race through choice or necessity. He covers almost every facet he can think of that throws a positive light on finding and spending leisure time on your own terms. It would be hard not to find at least one piece of inspiration within these pages that you could feasibly apply to make a difference to your life - career, relationships, money, education….it’s up to y ...more
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Ernie Zelinski is the author of the international bestseller How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free : Retirement Wisdom That You Won't Get from Your Financial Advisor which has sold over 95,000 copies sold and has been published in 7 foreign languages.

Ernie Zelinski is best known as the author of The Joy of Not Working: A Book for the Retired, Unemployed, and Overworked.

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