Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays” as Want to Read:
In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  4,107 ratings  ·  396 reviews
First published in 1984. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 1st 1985 by Routledge (first published 1935)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,107 ratings  ·  396 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays
Oct 07, 2008 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Jessica by: bookster jafar
I would seriously love to become more idle. That is, at this moment, my highest aspiration. Right now I sort of just want to shoot myself in the throat because I feel like all I do is go to work, and stay late at work, and then feel terrible at times like this one because I should be catching up on work before I go to bed, but actually I just got back from work, plus I gotta get up soon and go back to work, and in any case I'm starting to feel like quite the dull girl and all this work work work ...more
Sep 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-political
So far, I've only read the title essay, "In Praise of Idleness", but I must say that it rings as true (if not truer!) today than it must have in 1932 during the Great Depression.

The value and virtue of "hard work" and the vilification of "idleness" is indeed a dual construct of the upper (leisure) class and the puritanical (right-wing) religious origins of our country. Must keep those working-class lackeys occupied so they don't revolt! Or fall to drinking, gambling, and crime!

There is nothing
Wise words. Actually, I assume that whatever needed to be known has been long said by giants like Russel, it is time to do sth accordingly. When are we gonna take action?
Sophy H
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am a massive fan of Bertrand Russell. I find his writing sophisticated, innovatory and for his time (writing in the 20's/30's) highly revolutionary!

I love his thoughts on socialism, despite the fact that they're so idealistic. He makes me live in hope for a better world! His take on idleness is fantastic; everyone needs downtime and the ability to be a human "being" not doing.

A pleasure of a read and one I'll be dipping back into many times over.
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short essay, forcing the reader to see leisure in a new light of virtue (if expended rightly, and not just for fox-hunting or poacher-punishing), and the sense of duty with suspicion. Have always been astonished by the completeness of Bertrand Russell's thoughts. Leave no room for counterarguments.
Krishen Mohan
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A enlightened view on the self propagating inefficiency of the current economic paradigm. Reminder to the people that money is a means of resource allocation to ensure that everyone can live as comfortably as possible rather than this mindless pursuit of the impermenant that is prevalent today. Well worth the read. Succinct.
Ahmad Abdul Rahim
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Replete with Russell’s usual wits and his comforting cynicism to the state of affairs in the world, this book is also blessed with unusual dose of optimism while disclosing some of Russell’s closely-held life experiences (I’m trying to find a better word for ‘dogmatic beliefs’ as I clearly like him enough to avoid branding him with such distasteful word).

This book is too gracious to be considered as a proper book. It is a mish-mash of his essays written somewhere around 1928-1935 I presume (not
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this outstanding collection, Russell reflects upon the economic status of the modern world. Capitalists, in Russell's view, have obstinately refused to share the benefits of science, which could easily reduce the working hours of all people to 4 hours a day (in our day it is most certainly closer to 1 or 2), if only people were given the chance to control their own productivity; on top of that, capitalists have destroyed the aesthetic splendor of cities and towns. No age in history has had ...more
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great, plain-English text on several philosophical and social topics; if you're sort of interested in philosophy and you're intimidated by the language used in many texts, Russell is definitely a good place to start, and this collection of essays may be the best entry point.

The primary focus of this text is interesting: why do we constantly work more and more hours when we're producing more and more as well? Should we not have reached a balance point of production to consumption? Other
Aug 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...Reason, being impersonal, makes universal cooperation possible, unreason, since it represents private passions, makes strife inevitable. It is for this reason that rationality, in the sense of an appeal to a universal and impersonal standard of truth, is of supreme importance to the well-being of the human species..."

BR describes the utility of reason in this qoute, and it represents an effort on his part to adapt to a world he regards as off-kilter. Russell would have you understand reason
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
One of Russel's brilliant works. Bertrand is basically promoting leisure and idleness, as opposed to how the public is brought up to believe that hard work is a sacred and paramount. Russel rethinks the nature of this traditional conclusion and analyzes it from a different angle. Throughout the book, he promotes the sufficiency of 4 hours of daily work. He proceeds with an exceptional analysis and argues about its benefit to the individual and the society as a whole. Accordingly, he proceeds to ...more
Mina Ajam
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's difficult to understand topics that you are not interested with! but Bertrand wrote them in neatly that they could be read smoothly making them digestible
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Praise of Idleness has become one of those life-changing books for me. I’d heard and read a lot about Bertrand Russell’s genius and intellect, but the book really blew me away. The collection of essays here offer a treasure trove of ideas and makes eerily accurate predictions about society and humanity.

There were a number of ideas that will stay with me. For example, Russell, while discussing education, hypothesizes that it is the uneducated that bully and lynch others because the assertion
Paul Bard
Jun 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-to-be-read
In homage to Timothy Ferriss' bestselling "Four Hour Work Week", we should name this 1920 screed by Bertrand Russell the "Four Hour Work Day". Because inbetween various reflections on Betrand Russell, with Bertrand Russell talking about how Bertrand Russell sees Bertrand Russell's opinion of Bertrand Russell, the eponymous essay suggests that we halve the work day from 8 to 4 hours per day.

"But, why, Bertrand?"

Answer: because liberal arts.

Bertrand in his preface flakily defines the aim of this
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t mind his writing style, so perhaps the essay is better than 1 star. For me, the hurdle was my fundamental disagreement with his overarching ideas that:
1. There’s far too much work being done in the world, and
2. Immense harm is caused from believing work is virtuous.

I struggled to see the benefits in praising idleness. In the context of 1932, when the book was published, his points may have been more relevant, particularly because long workdays were the norm (even for children) and
Mar 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: perspective
"One of the commonest things to do with savings is to lend them to some government. In view of the fact that the bulk of the public expenditure of most civilized governments consists in payment for past wars or preparation for future wars, the man who lends his money to a government is in the same position as the bad men in Shakespeare who hire murderers. The net result of the man's economical habits is to increase the armed forces of the State to which he lends his savings. Obviously it would ...more
Moein Esmaeeli
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has some food for thought.

" For ages, the rich and their sycophants have written in praise of "honest toil," have praised the simple life, have professed a religion which teaches that the poor are much more likely to go to heaven than the rich, and in general have tried to make manual workers believe that there is some special nobility about altering the position of matter in space, just as men tried to make women believe that they derived some special nobility from their sexual
Mihai Leonte
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More relevant than ever with the emerging of "AI" and the automation of so many types of jobs. Civilization is at a crossroads - and the only sane option is reducing the work-hours or establishing universal basic income for everyone.

Ruby Bisson
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful and hilarious introduction to the writings of philosopher Bertrand Russell.
Ahmed Mahid
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have decided that this essay changed my life.
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thought
Simply beautiful. And strangely more libertarian than Rothbard. And more anti-status-quo than Bakunin. But unlike the two demi-gods of their respective gangs, short and not dated.
Kris Muir
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is the value of leisure in our lives? How might we define leisure? In 1932, philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote “In Praise of Idleness,” an intriguing essay about modern-day assumptions of the ethics of work and leisure. I read a book that contained the essay and an introduction to the essay, so I am counting it as a book. Russell’s primary argument is a reduction of work into merely two types: “first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such ...more
Jonathan Norton
Jan 14, 2016 rated it liked it
First published in 1935, this collection of general essays displays Russell at his most endearing and also infuriating. There is a discussion of the need for improved housing schemes, which shows that old Bertie was alive to the issues that would later surface in "psychogeography" and "urbanism", but also that he had the patrician desire to organise the lower orders for their own good. His essay on socialism reveals more of this spirit, where he frankly admits he gets greater motivation from a ...more
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
People said Bush was elected because he was the kind of guy you'd like to have a beer with. I agree with Bill Maher and think Bush was the kind of guy you'd like to smash in the head with a beer bottle. Bertrand Russell on the other hand is someone I would enjoy having a beer with. This collection of breezy and witty essays are a pleasure to read. As a person who whole heartedly can get on board with his skepticism of the work ethic and his embrace of useless knowledge I think kicking back and ...more
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first essay won me over !!
Well it was the reason why I picked this up.
Weird how I've never thought of reading it earlier, since I appreciate "Laziness".

Anyway, It took me a long time to finish this collection of essays. I didn't like everything I read but I enjoyed reading most of them.

It has been a good read.
Minh Quan Nguyen
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very simple but important idea: the economy is not like a household - one spending is another income. Everyone can't both work more and spend less at the same time. How important this idea is in the great depression we have now!

Russell idea of working four hours a day is still a dream. After one hundred years, it is still a dream. I wonder how long it will take for this to come true. Forever?
This book contains fifteen of Russell's essays, including In Praise of Idleness, 'Useless' Knowledge and The Ancestry of Fascism - the three I liked the most. As for the review, in the words of Anthony Gottlieb, Bertrand Russell 'looks down on human affairs from empyrean...heights' in a manner that combines detachment with tart wit.
Sep 07, 2015 added it
Shelves: article, philosophy
Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relative to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.
Accompany this with The Overworked American and recall how leisure is good for your state of mind.
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
clear, concise condemnation for our culture's (purported) need to work longer hours
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • آبجی خانم
  • اسماعیل
  • آیدا در آینه
  • A Philosophy of Fear
  • تفکر زائد
  • بیست و سه سال: ۲۳ سال
  • چهل نامه‌ی کوتاه به همسرم
  • Deathtrap
  • بیست و چهار ساعت در خواب و بیداری
  • شیعیگری
  • On the Meaning of Life
  • مرگ در می‌زند
  • داش‌ آکل
  • این هم مثالی دیگر
  • حاجی‌آقا
  • قصه‌های من و بابام - کتاب اول - بابای خوب من
  • زنده به‌گور
  • Zamane
See similar books…
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS, was a Welsh philosopher, historian, logician, mathematician, advocate for social reform, pacifist, and prominent rationalist. Although he was usually regarded as English, as he spent the majority of his life in England, he was born in Wales, where he also died.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950 "in recognition of his
“A habit of finding pleasure in thought rather than action is a safeguard against unwisdom and excessive love of power, a means of preserving serenity in misfortune and peace of mind among worries. A life confined to what is personal is likely, sooner or later, to become unbearably painful; it is only by windows into a larger and less fretful cosmos that the more tragic parts of life become endurable.” 33 likes
“All serious innovation is only rendered possible by some accident
enabling unpopular persons to survive.”
More quotes…