I read this book in public spaces and was often asked what the book was about. I'd say, "It sounds like a self-help book but it's not." Having finisheI read this book in public spaces and was often asked what the book was about. I'd say, "It sounds like a self-help book but it's not." Having finished it, I think it is a self help book but structured unlike most books of the genre. Jenny Odell provides not only recommendations on how to interact with time and space in an age when our attention is someone's money, but she also shares the context within which she developed these recommendations. Her recommendations don't have the faux authoritative tone that many self help books take. She recommends embracing bioregionalism to combat the forces vying for our minds. However, given the foundation she lays before concluding at bioregionalism could build to different activity that would serve the same purpose
Beyond self-care and the ability to really listen, the practice of doing nothing has something broader to offer us: an antidote to the rhetoric of growth. In the context of health and ecology, things that grow unchecked are often considered parasitic or cancerous. Yet we inhabit a culture that privileges novelty and growth over the cyclical and the regenerative. Our very idea of productivity is premised on the idea of producing something new whereas we do not tend to see maintenance and care as productive in the same way.
Thought and deliberation require incubation space and time, and our attention spans attuned to a succession of 280 characters struggle to create that space not only at the individual level but also humanity's collective attention and action struggles to create sustained action. (view spoiler)[Zeynep Tufecki's book, Twitter and Teargas talks about the difference in the kind of action social media spurs and would be a great companion to Odell's book. (hide spoiler)] Jenny Odell critiques the most popular voices of the time well spent movement that seeks to address our paucity of attention. It uses neatly consumerist language that requires humans to spend time in a productive way. Should we instead let go of the teleological nature that we live in? Odell says yes.
I read Mira Jacob's Good Talk with my partner. We would stop and talk about the parts where it was obvious that we'd both been in similar situations bI read Mira Jacob's Good Talk with my partner. We would stop and talk about the parts where it was obvious that we'd both been in similar situations but perhaps experienced it differently. We saw how complicated raising a multiracial child in America would be, particularly in divisive times like these. There's a panel where Mira Jacob is trying to explain the events of Ferguson to little Z, and the conversation ends with him wondering if his dad was afraid of him because he was brown. That was absolutely heartbreaking. Z is hilarious, clever, and asks piercing questions as only kids do.
It's interesting how different the relationship between Mira and her Jewish in laws is to Jed and Mira's parents. There are no scenes with Jed and Mira's parents even though they all live in the same country. On the other hand, Mira is constantly navigating her relationship with her in-laws. Largely because they vote for Trump in 2016.
Good Talk feels less like a memoir and more an exploration of race from the perspective of a brown woman. There are many books and pieces that one could read on race in America, but this one is specifically about raising an upper middle class multiracial child and it does that well.