Mark Love's Reviews > How to be Free

How to be Free by Tom Hodgkinson
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's review
Jun 29, 2012

liked it

Len gave me a copy of Tom Hodgkinson's previous book "How To Be Idle" as a bit of hint for me to calm down a bit, a few years back. It evidently didn't do the trick, for either Tom or me, as he's back with a new book "How to Be Free", and I felt the need to buy it during a recent(ish) trip to the Idler bookshop in West London.

Since his last book it appears he's escaped to the country and is happier than ever living on a fraction of his previous income, and I'm happy for him. But he wants us all to be equally happy by doing the same thing, or at least living in the same spirit.

It's an easy, well-intentioned and enjoyable read, making serious points about how to escape modern consumer culture and city living, but filled far too many smug and semi-patronising tips (grow your own vegetables, play the ukelele, ignore bills, etc). A genuine love of life shines through, and a desire for others to escape the shackles to a new mediaevalism of guilds, feasting and federated anarchy but aside from an excellent chapter on thrift there is little here of practical help to most readers (even it's guardian reading demographic)

There are some enlightening, entertaining and well-researched passages, particularly about how the puritans took over merry olde england, and how much better things were in medieval days, but it's poorly (idly?) edited with some anecdotes appearing at least 3 times (I got fed up reading about the carved wooden elephant he gave his poor son recently), and reads more like a series of newspaper columns.

In the spirit of thriftiness and anti-consumerism, anyone is welcome to have my copy.


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