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Laziness Does Not Exist

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From social psychologist Dr. Devon Price, a conversational, stirring call to “a better, more human way to live” (Cal Newport, New York Times bestselling author) that examines the “laziness lie”—which falsely tells us we are not working or learning hard enough.

Extra-curricular activities. Honors classes. 60-hour work weeks. Side hustles.

Like many Americans, Dr. Devon Price believed that productivity was the best way to measure self-worth. Price was an overachiever from the start, graduating from both college and graduate school early, but that success came at a cost. After Price was diagnosed with a severe case of anemia and heart complications from overexertion, they were forced to examine the darker side of all this productivity.

Laziness Does Not Exist explores the psychological underpinnings of the “laziness lie,” including its origins from the Puritans and how it has continued to proliferate as digital work tools have blurred the boundaries between work and life. Using in-depth research, Price explains that people today do far more work than nearly any other humans in history yet most of us often still feel we are not doing enough.

Filled with practical and accessible advice for overcoming society’s pressure to do more, and featuring interviews with researchers, consultants, and experiences from real people drowning in too much work, Laziness Does Not Exist “is the book we all need right now” (Caroline Dooner, author of The F*ck It Diet ).

256 pages, Hardcover

First published January 5, 2021

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About the author

Devon Price

7 books669 followers
Dr. Devon Price is a social psychologist, writer, and professor at Loyola University of Chicago’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Price’s work has appeared in numerous publications such as Slate, The Rumpus, NPR, and HuffPost and has been featured on the front page of Medium numerous times. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 993 reviews
Profile Image for Ayelet Reiter.
61 reviews19 followers
November 24, 2020
I expected this to be mostly capitalist criticism (which I am super into), as it turns out it was that but mostly self-help. Still, it definitely deviates from most self-help books just by virtue of being anti-capitalist and presenting the somewhat radical idea presented in its title. Basically, it's anti-capitalist enough for your lefty comrades to enjoy but self-help enough that you could gift it to your liberal friends and family and they wouldn't be too scandalized.

Personally, even as someone who has criticized rugged individualism and the American obsession with productivity for many years, I still learned a lot and had many of my viewpoints challenged by this book. Who knew accepting laziness could be so much work? Some of my favorite sections included the history of how America's aversion to laziness was built (spoiler alert: it's a whole lot of white supremacy) and the conclusion, which focused on how compassion towards what we perceive as others' laziness will help us love ourselves more.

What I connected less to were the copious descriptions of burnout, even though there were definitely times in the past when I could relate. I think this is mostly because there have been at least a handful of books and thousands of think pieces written about burnout in the last few years, so those didn't really feel like anything revolutionary compared to other parts of the book. It's pretty hard to argue with the notion that burnout is bad both for the capitalist machine and for actual human beings, and reading descriptions of people experiencing burnout is never a good time (Price even acknowledges how much of a toll these interviews took on their own health), so I wish this took up less of the book.

The other thing that peeved me was the most of the advice for dealing with burnout and "the laziness lie" at work assumed that the person reading (a) has a white-collar job which is salaried and probably provides benefits, (b) that their supervisor is understanding and flexible, (c) that they have enough power and say in their job to enact changes to it, (d) that they won't lose their job by enacting those changes or saying "no" to their assigned tasks and (e) that dropping a few of their job responsibilities won't cause them to be unable to pay for basic living expenses. These all seem like pretty rare privileges at any time but especially during COVID times.

Still though, I would recommend this book, and think it would make a great gift to any friends who need a little compassion in their lives or for book clubs to discuss.
Profile Image for Sarah.
3 reviews4 followers
June 24, 2021
In the end, this is a book I consider dangerous.

By the time I turned the final page I had the "hair-standing-up-goosebumps" feeling that if the author had been sitting next to me, they'd be the friend offering me hard, addictive drugs during a hard time in my life. They'd be the type of friend to say something along the lines of, "Hey, life is hard. You've got X, Y, and Z social systems working against you. Why not take a hit and take the edge off? You deserve it."

I read Devon Price's essay years ago and shared it with everyone I knew. I loved how it served as a platform for re-exploring my relationship with "work," productivity, inherent worth, and many of the valuable topics that the author touched on in the early chapters of the book.

But by the last chapter I had the creeping sensation that there was no healthy call to action that I felt would give readers at least a general idea of where to head in the direction of a more fulfilling, compassionate life for themselves. Instead the author literally considered how perhaps a friend day-drinking their stress away wasn't a bad thing after all - and that other friend dipping into LSD after a stressful day? Well that isn't lazy, its just survival, and we shouldn't judge...

And so it was at the end of the book I felt like I had blundered into a trap. Instead of being a book about re-exploring the many relevant, interesting, often infuriating social constructs that shape our working, inner, and social worlds by the time I got to the end of this book I felt like I was being told that we all have social forces against us (which is true, to varying degrees) so why blame ourselves for not getting up when we're down? Why not let go and binge on Netflix for months? Why not just stop struggling?

Perhaps for those who are deep, deep, deep in drowning and just need to come up for air for a moment this is a great book that can crack open that level of pain and self-hate and allow a sliver of self-compassion to slip in - enough that, hopefully, you can continue to work with self-compassion and within and against the constraints of the social forces against you and find your way forward.

But this book will not show you the way forward. It will keep you in a state of languishing (and for some that may be valid and enough, for now, in their lives) and if you are the type to indulge in self-destructive behaviors you know aren't good for you or part of your real values or desires... well, be warned, as this book will explicitly advocate for those self-destructive indulgences on stressful days, because life is tough, so why not?

I felt totally demoralized and honestly disturbed by the time I got to the end. I can see where an attempt was made to foster self-compassion, but there was no sense of ownership of that self-compassion, no connection to working on a healthy love for yourself, just... languishing. Barely floating on the surface of life and not having any desire, framework, examples, or even a glimmer of hope to move forward.

Connections, Overcoming Overwhelm, Self-Compassion... those are all books that are much better suited for redefining an externally enforced view of "laziness" while also giving you real help and tools for not only rising to the surface against what is pushing you down, but moving forward to flourish as well. Please consider those resources rather than this.

(Also as an aside I was *really* disturbed by the lack of self-awareness over how constant, unceasing internet and social media use seemed to drive so much of the stress in the author's life... For those who feel that social media is a major stress-point for you, I'd recommend books on attention - The Organized Mind, Deep Work, The Power of Now, Essentialism - and some digital breaks to help you get a grasp on how you really want to use the tools of social media rather than feel used.)
Profile Image for Fern.
143 reviews5 followers
February 7, 2023
TL;DR: Revolutionary for those who have never challenged their ableism, or for those for whom the book applies (middle-class workaholics). For disabled/chronically ill people, this is elementary. For those who work low-paying/blue-collar jobs to survive, this is a useless self-help book.
2 stars or 3 stars, depending who you are, and your experience with challenging ableism.

I was surprised I didn't like this read as I follow the author on multiple platforms and their messages usually resonate with me.

This book is not for disabled people, chronically ill people, poor people, or the unemployed. This book is for the overworked, overly-ambitious, career-minded, too-busy-to-live type of person. This book is for middle-class workaholics and perfectionists. Even though poor people, disabled people, and working-class people are mentioned, they are only check marks on a list, an afterthought. I think the author wrote this book from the assumption that your boss cares about you, from the assumption that you would be ok if you got fired, from the assumption that you work, not to survive, but for personal fulfillment. This book provides solutions that simply aren’t tenable for your average worker. Other pieces of advice are basic and somewhat stale: limit screen time, do stuff that makes you happy, don’t read the news before bed, and think positively.

Instead of a criticism of capitalist theory, this book quickly became a self-help book. The author asks you to challenge the idea that you have to know everything about everything and be involved in every single political movement, that you have to work hard to make your relationships work, and that your worth and happiness is dependent on your achievements. And in those ways, this book can be revolutionary and helpful to some. We all know someone who would benefit greatly from reading this book. Some people have zero compassion for themselves, some people put their entire identity into their job, their entire worth into their productivity. This book is your one foot in the door, a way to let a ray of compassion into your life, a message to slow down and rest (if you are able to). And if you are that type of person, you should consider reading this book.

For me, this book does not live up to the conversation the title promised. Instead of analyzing what our society thinks about the lazy, or about how our ideas of laziness are deeply rooted in ableism and white supremacy, or about how we deal with these ideals when our survival depends on overworking ourselves. Instead we simply reframed laziness as rest and relaxation. This book should be titled, "You're Not Lazy, You Work Too Hard to Be Lazy."
Profile Image for L (Nineteen Adze).
217 reviews32 followers
March 24, 2023
I have such mixed feelings about this book. The first half is great at discussing how deeply people can get into a burnout state while still feeling like failures. There's a lot of useful stuff about recognizing exhaustion, trying to pause, and noticing that these expectations of productivity are destructive. It's also even-handed about the importance of having compassion for others and understanding their struggles.

The chapter about internet use is fine, but nothing that hasn't been in articles about limiting your screen time for years. Don't pour your energy into fighting with people online, take breaks, find healthy offline methods of communication, all that stuff-- it's good advice, but a little stale, and I don't think the book fully picked up after that.

There are some great observations here (obsessively worrying about something isn't a form of activism, scale your activities to what you can sustain), but they're often buried in content that's either generic or a bit privileged. Sure, it's great to take research about down time to your manager in a white-collar job where you're in good standing, but it's less than useless for the many people in the gig economy who can be easily replaced or pushed out. To the author's credit, they acknowledge when some included anecdotes are coming from a place of privilege, but... honestly, most of them are.

I also have mixed feelings about how some of the "people are struggling with obstacles" content is presented. The author is having a gender transition journey and talks about how that's affected their mindset, which is great. However, some sections are balanced like this: "here's an issue, it's really hard for people with mental health issues, three paragraphs about how it's hard to have an unusual gender presentation in an office, oh, and by the way here are two sentences about how it's hard for black and brown people and those with disabilities too, moving on."

I don't think I would have minded if that had been flagged up front as presenting readers with a mindset they have may shrugged off before, but the gender identity diversity in the book is great and the socioeconomic/income diversity is just not. I would have been more interested to hear from people who are struggling with presenting one way in a rigid workplace to avoid harassment and another way at home, or people who haven't been able to access gender transition care at all because they have limited income.

These issues intersect-- the author talks about how work insurance might not cover their personal transition expenses and they're sad about it, but they also focus on the gig economy in terms of people pushing themselves too hard to avoid looking lazy rather than to, say, pay their rent or save up for gender transition that they can't afford from one day job with no insurance. There are broader systemic critiques that get brought up and then swept away with advice about being gentle with yourself. For example, the book opens with examples about how we see homeless people as lazy and need to have compassion for them, but there's no mention of successful interventions in providing them with housing to help them integrate back into society. It's an odd oversight in such a well-cited book, but maybe the author is trying to steer people away from the prospect of activism burnout.

The book also doesn't touch much on disabilities beyond the fatigue that many of them create. Even just browsing Twitter, I've seen fantastic commentary on the pressure for disabled people to seem upbeat and inspirational to avoid being treated as defective, and the awful double bind of being pressured to work but losing benefits if they make even a cent over the cutoff point. It's a rich area for exploring how the Laziness Lie hurts every part of people's lives, and the author's father was even disabled, but it's mostly in as the occasional garnish or part of a checklist.

On the whole, this seemed like a gentle 101 resource that would be great for a middle-class person (especially someone who's transgender) but frustrating for many others. I am a middle-class person and I still found a lot of this to be short-sighted and geared toward people who are driving themselves hard out of perfectionism rather than because of economic struggle. Some of the interviews are great, but the sample also swings hard toward middle-class people and activists doing community work/ running their own businesses. It's a useful book, but seems more like a springboard than a go-to resource.

Other recommendations:
-The entire archive of Captain Awkward, who's written eloquently about how living in exhaustion and dead-end jobs can burn you out and gets down into the specifics of small steps you can make to change that. She also goes into a lot more detail about setting boundaries.
-On the housework front, this is probably a good pairing with How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing. Both books focus on giving yourself permission to rest and see what works for you rather than doing a routine just because it's what you "should" be doing.
1 review
January 18, 2021
The thesis of this book, which appears on the third to last page, is that individuals who seem “lazy,” face unseen barriers and challenges that are unbeknown to others. This is not a book for those seeking advice on how to become more productive or strike a better work-life balance. Instead, the author makes an explicit argument for individuals to be more lazy in their daily lives (i.e., get comfortable with being less productive than society tells them they ought to be). This objective is highlighted throughout the book from the authors’ personal anecdotes with individuals being overworked to the point of physical exhaustion. Although most can agree that there is a need to create a healthier relationship with our work in the United States, a real opportunity was missed by the author to discuss evidence-based approaches supported by the scientific literature that we can take to create balance in our lives. Much of the book is riddled with politically-laden comments, rather than scientific evidence. Though this will be liked by some, I purchased this book believing that it would be written in a more scientific manner given the credentials of the author; thus, I was greatly disappointed. Overall, it is an interesting premise for an essay, but in my opinion, the content is undeserving of a full-length book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sheena.
601 reviews264 followers
January 7, 2021
Laziness Does Not Exist was requested and read by me just from the title alone. Devon Price exceeded my expectations and was the justification I needed when feeling lazy about myself. A lot of my personal goals haven’t been fulfilled, especially lately with a pandemic going on. “We expect ourselves to achieve at a superhuman level, and when we fail to do so, we chastise ourselves for being lazy”.

The book really resonates with me because it made me feel validated and seen. There were so many points where I was like “wow that is so true” and I ended up highlighting so much of the book. It may be my most highlighted book of all time. There is criticism of society, capitalism, technology, and social media but also tackles other issues that may get in the way such as mental illness. While I agree with a lot of points in this book, I do think there’s a line between being burnt out from exhaustion or just being plain lazy. Sometimes I am the latter but that is okay with me. The book also offers some self-help tools which I thought were helpful points.

This ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for K Agbebiyi .
194 reviews716 followers
March 22, 2021
3.5 stars There’s some helpful stuff in here! Especially about self worth and social media. However this can read as boundaries 101 and very white. This is for people who don’t know they can set boundaries, not for someone looking for an in depth critique of capitalism or racism etc or for help overcoming the urge to work in a really *deep* way. It briefly mentions how WOC experience this more, but I would love a book that hammers home about race and ability more. As a disabled Black person I know I need to relax! But what are the strategies for me as I navigate this in a world that says I’m unworthy of it. The examples did not feel all that relevant to me, but I still think it’s worth a read.
Profile Image for Abriana.
496 reviews25 followers
January 28, 2021
I just lost my job, and it was a huge comfort to me to read a book that reminded me that my value as a person is not rooted in how productive I am, that it's okay if my capabilities to work hard and live a passionate life fall outside of said work. I really enjoyed the reminders to take stock of your values and figure out how to prioritize them in your own life.

This conversation is both universal but also pretty privileged, and while I feel this was acknowledged, there also were some observations that weren't approached with the nuance they deserved. (Ex: when talking about the gig economy, it was implied the only reason people were working side hustles and monetizing all of their hobbies was because of societal pressures not because they literally can't afford not to.) But overall, I felt like this was a good message, a well thought out response to all of these collective conversations about burnout, and just a really timely read for me personally.
Profile Image for jenny✨.
563 reviews801 followers
March 2, 2021
I initially read and reviewed this for NetGalley as an advance review copy back in December/January. Yesterday I got my hands on the audiobook and listened to this again, just in time to help me come to terms with the fact that 1) I'm not making as much progress as I'd like on my graduate scholarship application; and 2) that's okay.

Interweaving activism and self-help, psychology and memoir, this book isn't very long but it nonetheless packs an interdisciplinary punch.



This book made me feel… called out.

In the best way possible.

Because I felt seen. I felt validated and affirmed. I did not feel so alone in the cycles of burnout and bone-deep fatigue that I persistently subject myself to—cycles that were driven, ultimately, by a pathological fear of somehow exposing the laziness that I was convinced festered at my core. My productivity and accomplishments were a facade I had to effortfully, continually maintain.


I’d say this was the best book I could’ve read at this moment. I say this because I’m about to start my second semester of grad school in a few days and I don’t feel ready whatsoever to face it. Dr. Devon Price’s words have been a balm for my anxieties, opening a space for me to better understand and forgive myself. It's helped ease my transition back into so-called “productivity.”


The minute I set eyes on its gradient-shaded cover, I was immediately intrigued by Laziness Does Not Exist. Don’t lie to me: the title alone piqued your interest, too.

Whether skeptic or desperate grad student (guess which one I am), I think we’d all like to get to the bottom of the affliction—the bane of our capitalist, industrial clime, if you will—known as laziness.

Moreover, Dr. Price is a social psychologist and an activist, another reason I knew I had to read their book. I’m a psych grad currently doing my Master’s in counselling & clinical psychology, and I’ve been fighting all my (admittedly not-so-long) academic career to carve out a space for activism in psychology, a social scientific field that’s notorious for its inability—read: unwillingness—to get with the social-justice-times.

Dr. Price’s insights have been invaluable in helping me see the ways in which my self-identified “over-ness”—over-stressing, overworking, over-planning, over-managing—have hurt me both in the short- and long-term.

They criticize capitalism, fatphobia, “pull yourself by your bootstraps” mentalities that obscure systemic injustice, and cultural patterns of tech and social media use; each of these issues is situated in broader historical and sociopolitical contexts. They discuss activism fatigue (and how to combat it), setting boundaries in our friendships and professional lives, intersectional social justice issues, and self-care methods rooted in positive psychology.

Throughout it all, the book champions the living of fruitful, fulfilling lives: lives in which we listen to and honour our “laziness” (i.e., burnout, rest, idleness, healing) and advocate for our own autonomy.

I cannot underscore enough: Everyone should read their book.

Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Stefan Guimond.
2 reviews2 followers
June 9, 2021
In which Devon Price nearly discovers Marxism, but doesn't. This book is more written for overly ambitious, hardworking, career professionals, who work themselves too hard... basically the opposite of me.
Profile Image for Trisha Parsons.
513 reviews24 followers
June 17, 2021
Why I chose this book: The title of this book gripped my attention.

Brief summary: The thesis of this book is in fact that laziness does not exist, which is supported by the reasons why people's behaviors may be perceived as lazy. The book also offers some solutions or easy ways to rebel against what Price calls The Laziness Lie.

What I didn't like about this book: The book never really provides a counterargument. Price writes about why we feel the pressure to be busy and why that results in us feeling lazy, but they don't give any examples of why lazy might be a legitimate word in certain cases. To me, the logic that laziness doesn't exist because there are reasons people are lazy doesn't track because we couldn't use that same logic in other instances. It wouldn't work to say there are reasons that people are assholes so being an asshole doesn't exist. I can think of certain instances where acknowledging that someone is being lazy would be helpful, like if you have a doctor who won't take you seriously, for example. Completely disavowing laziness from our vocabulary seems like a product of an overly positive culture, which is ironically also a product of the hustle culture that Price critiques. I kept waiting for a more novel or in-depth argument, but most of this book is repackaged information that is readily available elsewhere.

What I liked the book: I like the framing of The Laziness Lie which is essentially to say that we are so conditioned to be busy that we are quick to judge ourselves and others for being lazy even when that judgement is harsh and unfair. The Laziness Lie gives structure to a deeply rooted problem in our society.
Profile Image for Andy.
1,373 reviews464 followers
August 16, 2022
The fact that we have a problem with overwork in America is valid but not new. The plus-value from this book is the idea of laziness not existing. The problem is stretching out that one concept into an entire book, so that Procrustean efforts are made to have things like Andrew Tobias being in the closet somehow relate to the topic.
Not to mention that "laziness" describes something that does exist on a spectrum among different people. "Laziness does not exist" is a bold claim that makes for a clever title but then requires solid evidence to back it up. Redefining words to mean whatever you want is dangerous.

Other books to consider: Rest Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang Bonjour Paresse by Corinne Maier Affluenza The All-Consuming Epidemic by John De Graaf
Nickel and Dimed On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich The Overworked American The Unexpected Decline Of Leisure by Juliet B. Schor Overwhelmed Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte

Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less
Bonjour Laziness: Why Hard Work Doesn't Pay
Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America
The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline Of Leisure
Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time
164 reviews1 follower
February 1, 2021
Tried to get through this book so I wouldn't have to give it the dreaded one star, but couldn't. I think I was fooled by the author being a university professor, as the author decides to write this book more like a journalist than a academic. Its well written, but its also doesn't feel authorative. Its anecdotal, vague on references, and assertive on its own viewpoint without critically analyzing other ways of thinking about laziness, so the reader isn't given the ability to make their own decision. Once it got to the stage of being a self-help book, I had to bail.
8 reviews4 followers
December 28, 2022
I really wanted to like this book. This is a very timely subject, as almost everyone these days feels overwhelmed by how much we're "supposed" to be doing, and many of us secretly wonder if we're "lazy" because we can never do enough.

Dr. Price has a few interesting things to say on the history of why we've come to believe this means we are lazy, and I have enjoyed similarly-themed books (Jenny Odell's superb How to Do Nothing comes to mind). However, there's only about 5 interesting pages' worth of content in this particular work. The rest is mostly (a) off topic, (b) cloyingly written, and/or (c) contradictory.

Regarding (a) off topic, much of this book should really be titled "Life advice for people high in the trait of neuroticism." Dr. Price offers anecdotes and advice related to people who struggle to set boundaries, people who are perfectionistic, people who are overly sensitive, people who think they should repress their feelings, people with psychosomatic illnesses in response to overwork, etc. As an example, several pages are devoted to the story of a woman who struggles with accepting her ambivalent feelings about her loving but overbearing mother, followed by advice from a random therapist about how this woman could set better boundaries. Which just seems quite far afield from any discussion of laziness.

While this advice is probably all fine (if pretty standard) advice for people high in neuroticism, it's only tangentially related to Dr. Price's topic. They keep trying to make a connection (e.g., a sentence saying that the laziness lie is why people feel like they have to overextend themselves), but their efforts feels like an afterthought and is unconvincing. Also, neuroticism and conscientiousness are only moderately correlated (which is why they are separate factors in the Big 5 personality research). So this book is not particularly helpful for anyone who is, say, high (or low) in neuroticism but *more importantly* low in conscientiousness and who feels pummeled by our society's worship of conscientiousness. Or really for *anyone* who isn't high in neuroticism.

Regarding (b) the cloying writing style, much of this book reads like a Tiny Buddha or Medium post. You know, those unedited or only lightly edited first-person internet "articles" that say things like "I once had a toxic friend named Ethan, and I had to cut ties with him for my mental health." I wish I were exaggerating, but a whole half-chapter in this book concerns Dr. Price's self-described toxic friendship with Ethan, and how they had to dramatically cut ties with them (i.e., immediately stop talking to them forever) to save their mental health. There are many, many similar stories about how they felt they had to respond in a black-and-white manner through suddenly block themselves from specific Facebook groups, stop going to specific support groups, stop doing specific advocacy work, stop following certain friends or stop responding to their texts, etc, because they discovered they were toxic for them (there are also similar anecdotes about other people the author knows, but who are not fully-fleshed out enough for you to care about them).

Those kind of stories would arguably be fine for one of those internet articles, but story after story after story in book form reads as neurotic, narcissistic/borderline, and repetitive (do they just... never try having a real conversation with anyone?). It's also disappointing for a book written by a social psychologist that promised to focus on the science of intrinsic motivation. Adding citations to a blog post does not automatically elevate the content to book status.

(A few other notes about the writing style: (1) The book is also written from a *very* specific political space, which was fine for me (though the amount of politics gets quite tedious), yet it means I can't recommend the book to at least half the people I know, as they'd be too distracted by the tangential politics to hear Dr. Price's deeper message. (2) It's so informally-written that it's distracting. The author kept in fillers like 'like' and 'you know' in quotes, refers a lot to popular culture they think "millenials" (I guess their target demographic?) "love", "jokingly" describes quite destructive communication styles that they and their friends/colleagues use regularly (e.g., says their therapist "rolls his eyes" at them), and at one point talks about their... well... "anxiety shits." I am all for authenticity, but there are ways to write in the popular register that do not drift over into Twitter thread informality.)

Regarding (c) contradictory, there's an odd amount of exercises you're supposed to do for a book about how we all feel overwhelmed by how much we have to do. At various times, Dr. Price recommends: mindfulness, daily expressive writing, weekly 'feeling your feelings' sessions, values exercises, multistep plans for setting better boundaries, worksheets for tracking how you feel after you complete every activity to see if it's really important to you, breaking tasks down into easily-digestible chunks, etc., etc. So their solution to feeling like we're not doing enough is to... do more?

At the same time, Dr. Price suggests *not* using apps that track anything or that gamify anything or that break it down into easily-digestible chunks, such as Goodreads(!) or Fitbit or Duolingo, because they can make us feel like we're not doing enough. The inclusion of so much advice for our to-do lists feels like they are trying to make sure they included advice from every single therapist they talked to so they don't hurt that therapist's feelings. And the advice on what not to use reads like they are thinly veiling another tedious essay on "toxic things I had to cut out of my life" rather than thoughtfully engaging with what it would mean to truly step out of the attention economy.

Most irritatingly, Dr. Price recommend activism (after talking a lot about how burned out they are on activism), through such things as banding together with your fellow employees to advocate for being given less work by your employer (while handwavingly acknowledging how hard this would be for people who are marginalized in any way). Sure, OK. Organizing a grassroots activism campaign at work is definitely a thing people who feel overwhelmed and marginalized want to add to their plate.

Overall, this is a a one-and-a-half star book that I'm giving 2 stars mostly because I want there to be more books on this topic (and because some of the sources in the footnotes look interesting). I suspect many reviewers are giving it 4 to 5 stars for the topic and title alone.
Profile Image for Carina.
148 reviews10 followers
January 3, 2022
Honestly expected this book to be a more radical critique of the whole notion of "productivity" in a capitalist society, but a lot of it is just kind of the same old thing of profiling obvious workaholics and overachievers who still feel like they're failing and saying, "But they're not!" Meanwhile, I'm reading and thinking, "Well, obviously the people literally working themselves to the point of exhaustion and illness aren't lazy, but that doesn't let ME off the hook." Surface-level pronouncements lead to contradictory advice like "Ignore social media"/"Resist gamification" but also "Post your everyday wins to social media so your friends can see". I also found a lot of the pop culture comparisons unnecessary and forced (Avatar: The Last Airbender is literally about the power of friendship and the necessity of teamwork in--and I can't stress this enough--a magical fantasy land; framing it as an example of toxic productivity culture is a really weird choice IMO!).

tl;dr not a bad book but not what I'd hoped for. May be useful for the workaholic in your life who needs a 101-level introduction to Taking a Fucking Break.
Profile Image for Emma.
1,228 reviews101 followers
August 23, 2021

Laziness Does Not Exist gripped me from start to finish. Price does an excellent job laying out the Laziness Lie and how it has permeated our society. The book dives into numerous areas in daily life where the Laziness Lie has had an impact, such as interpersonal relationships and hobbies, before looking at how we can begin to unlearn this lie.

The Laziness Lie demands perfection, and it defines perfection in very rigid, arbitrary ways: a body that conforms; a tidy, presentable life; a day filled with "productive," virtuous activities that benefit society; a life that has no room in it for rebellion or complaint.

The book is clearly argued with compelling facts and anecdotes to support Price's points. I kept wishing I could give this to my 20-year-old self who believed deeply in the Laziness Lie. It was incredibly useful to learn more ways I can unpack the Laziness Lie in my own life as well as affirming to hear that some of the tools I'm already using are backed up by research.

The information in Laziness Does Not Exist will stick with me as will Price's conversational and empathetic writing style. I can't recommend this book enough.
Profile Image for Jessica.
2,061 reviews60 followers
January 14, 2021
I'm not generally much into self help but this came to me exactly when I needed this message. Bonus points for its queer-positivity.
Sometimes the best thing good people can do is hunker down, care for one another, and survive.
Profile Image for Ashton Reads.
678 reviews142 followers
January 13, 2022
This was a fantastic reminder that the “hustle culture” mentality isn’t for me, and that’s perfectly a-okay. If you have the privilege to choose health and happiness over work and money, do so.
3 reviews
March 10, 2021
Honesty, I couldn't get through it. I like the premise and I think there is some merit to the need to reframe 'laziness'. However, the book is just inundated with all the ways modern life causes us to be over engaged. I feel like the book is five years too late as readers of this genre are already refocusing on work-life balance and have been for years.
Profile Image for Lina.
147 reviews8 followers
October 20, 2022
Tinginystė neegzistuoja ir tegyvuoja tinginystė. Tokie būtų pagrindiniai šūkiai knygoje. Bendrai paėmus-gerai, stipriai parašyta, įtaigiai argumentuota ir aktuali knyga. Rėmiausi ja rašydama straipsnį dar prieš metus, tuomet lietuviškai ji išversta nebuvo. O ir vertimas geras, negali prikibt.
O tas vienos žvaigždutės atėmimas yra susijęs su tais pirma paminėtais šūkiais ir menama ambivalencija: kaip netikint kažkam esant jis tiek visaip gali būti aptartas ir minimas, pvz., rašoma, kad tinginystės nėra, o tuomet, kaip gerai yra leisti sau tingėti. Šiaip absoliučiai sutinku, kad šių dienų pasaulyje žmogus yra labai sau agresyvus neleisdamas ilsėtis, peikdamas ir pravardžiuodamas save tinginiu. Autorius labai plačiai paėmė plėtoti šią problematiką ir padarė tai neblogai. Bet biškį vietomis nusibodo, tad ilgokai ir tingiai ją skaičiau :)
Rekomenduoju :)
Profile Image for Samantha.
178 reviews
January 19, 2022
Did Dr. Price read my diary?? Because they have written exactly the book I needed.

Some thoughts...

...on caffeine and Parks and Rec: This TOTALLY called me out for my love of coffee and Leslie Knope, and gently nudged me to see how both are problematic. And also gave me more of an understanding of why I can never seem to get to the *extra* hobbies that would be “good for me,” like doing nightly DuoLingo lessons.

Again, did Dr. Price read my diary?

...on social issues and sustainable activism: “Stressing out about a topic is not actually a means of working to address the problem. It may feel productive, because it keeps our minds busy and engaged, but it actually saps us of the energy to put up a genuine fight.” -Ch. 5

...on the stories used in this book: Hell yes to the clear respect for people’s journeys, identities, passions and pronouns—and to the expansive, diverse, relatable examples and stories that Price uses. This book steers away from many self-help tropes and normative examples.
Profile Image for Matthew Noe.
688 reviews50 followers
February 9, 2021
"If your life has value no matter how productive you are, so does every other human life."

You aren't your productivity. Work isn't inherently good and neither is "doing."
Profile Image for Bailey.
Author 3 books17 followers
August 21, 2021
I highlighted so many passages of this book, and bought it immediately after finishing the copy I’d borrowed from the library. The descriptions of the Laziness Lie and how overwork and overcommitment cause us to harm ourselves and each other were frighteningly relatable—and it was beyond affirming to read a book that acknowledges that pain, challenges the lies, and grounds its arguments in both analysis of systemic issues and individual stories. Also the author has a chinchilla named Dump Truck.
Profile Image for Kaa.
560 reviews51 followers
Shelved as 'come-back-later'
May 24, 2022
I am interested by the central argument of this book, but I'm not finding the self-help aspect or anecdotes all that helpful or relevant to me. Will maybe return to this in the future, but it's not holding my attention right now.
Profile Image for Rachel Grey.
101 reviews2 followers
February 5, 2022
As a late Gen Xer with a history of burnout, who was given this book by a thoughtful Gen Z, my main takeaway is "Damn, the Millenials are grinding even harder than we did." The side hustles, the feeling that activism is required -- these expectations are apparently stacked on top of the usual societal demands of crushing it at one's main job while looking great and being fit and being an excellent friend/partner in our social circles. I was surprised that the book didn't get more into discussions of privilege; it makes perfect sense to me that the author's circle, consisting mainly of a generation caught in economic pincers and with a high representation of queer/trans folk, didn't have the privilege of taking a low-effort approach to finances or to activism. At the same time, that circle does have enough economic privilege to assume readers can afford to quit their side hustles or discuss boundaries with managers, and there's not much discussion of any of this.

I liked the discussion of the history of the concept of "laziness", including the etymology, which was interesting:

Many etymologists believe it came from either the Middle Low German lasich, which meant “feeble” or “weak,”13 or from the Old English lesu, which meant “false” or “evil.”

Also liked the discussion of savoring: learning to look forward to something, enjoy it in the moment, and look back on it thoughtfully and with gratitude. Writing book reviews is, in fact, the third part of this when it comes to reading, which ties in nicely with this very site.

The end felt fairly depressing, in that its call for compassion seemed a bit too far toward a call to NEVER take action. I absolutely get it: this is written for people who take action too quickly, too instinctively, too often, for whom slumping into a pile of inaction will never be a true danger (even if it is an imagined one). However, it's clearly not the right book for everyone. Some people do benefit greatly from external pressure to do more, and to overcome their proclivities enough to take action SOMETIMES. That said, I am in fact the target audience for this book, both in personal inclination and in economic stability (thanks to years of grinding; mercifully just one job at a time though). So it was a pretty reasonable book for me to read and I made a few highlights to review later.

I'm taking away with me the concise idea that "wasting time is a basic human need", which is also explored very well in 4000 Weeks: Time Management For Mortals but never stated so bluntly.
Profile Image for Milo.
22 reviews71 followers
February 9, 2023
As a youth worker new to the helping professions, I found Devon Price's 'Laziness Does Not Exist' to be a pretty relatable read. Like many other people in the helping professions, I’m super passionate about my work, but that also comes with often finding myself struggling with burnout and compassion fatigue due to the trauma and hardship I’m a witness to.

So, I’m giving this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. While it provided some good self-care tips and advice and other similar things, and while I think it’s a helpful starting point for setting boundaries around overworking, I still felt that it was a bit basic in its overall approach. Price does offer a refreshing perspective on the concept of “laziness,” but I was kind of hoping for a more in-depth critique of capitalism, racism, etc etc, and how they contribute systemically to the culture of overworking and negative views around laziness in society.

As well, the book seemed to focus a lot on overworking as it takes place in white-collar and office jobs and not nearly as much on professions that are working class, or other professions such as the helping professions, of which I’m part, or even retail (of which I also work in as a bookseller) and hospo. This left me feeling a little like the book didn’t fully address the unique challenges faced by those of us in these fields.

But I did appreciate Price’s emphasis on the importance of self-care and the encouragements to say “no” to overworking without shame or feelings of guilt, but I feel that some of the advice was geared towards a more privileged audience who can actually say no, with no worries about how that may impact their next paycheck or security that they’ll be able to keep their jobs, etc, and also didn't fully address, to the extent I feel was needed, the systemic issues that contribute to overworking and burnout.

All up, I’d still recommend this book to others, but would also caution them to seek out other in-depth and perhaps more nuanced discussions surrounding the larger systemic issues that contribute to this culture of overworking and burnout that we in the west are absolutely trapped in.
Profile Image for Andrea Crock.
53 reviews1 follower
May 17, 2022
Overall, it was an easy read, but I didn’t really learn anything. It just seemed like a bunch of disjointed observations. While a lot of these things were valid points, I found it reaching to attribute them to laziness.
Profile Image for Sasha.
237 reviews17 followers
January 2, 2022
I don't think I was the target audience for this book. It seems like it could definitely be useful for people who are super overextended (professionally and/or personally) and especially those who have never even questioned it. Sometimes the tone of the writing rubbed me the wrong way and I'd prefer to read something on this topic that does a deeper dive on capitalism or ableism. Not necessarily a bad book, but just not for me!
Profile Image for anklecemetery.
400 reviews19 followers
May 18, 2021
I'm rounding up my rating on this one, but I think it's more of a 2.5.

I appreciate where Price is coming from, but I think they rely too heavily on supporting anecdotes and circular descriptions of their own challenges with self-care. The whole book is a constant reminder of Price's successes and that they have a Ph.D, and that they are happier now that they have established appropriate boundaries regarding work (despite saying how bad it was, passages where they describe their exhaustion, overwork, and eating disorder read more as glorifications of those behaviors -- look where it got them!). I think it's lovely that they have achieved a level of success and peace with their career! But the steps laid out in the book assume a level of control/freedom that many workers do not have access to, so it comes across as sympathetic but a little tone-deaf.

Once you wade through the anecdotes, the actual framework is interesting (I especially like the comparison charts for creating responses to situations/interactions with others). But the book can't seem to decide if it wants to address white-collar academics or if it wants to be serviceable to a broader audience, and suffers for it. It might make more sense to read the essay that inspired this work, rather than the book itself.
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