In Praise of Slow
“The No Logo of its age…strangely enthralling, an epiphany for those of us who have forgotten how to look forward to things or to enjoy the moment when it arrives.”
– The Herald (UK)
“Entertaining, friendly and intelligent guide…with a light mix of well-researched historic trivia and contemporary statistics. [Honoré’s] anecdotes and self-deprecating humour convey the pleasure and reward that he experienced on his slow pilgrimage.”
– The Economist
“(This) book makes a persuasive case against mindless speed and offers an intriguing array of concrete suggestions about ways “to make the moment last.”
– Los Angeles Times
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Q&A with Carl
What is In Praise of Slow about?
It examines our compulsion to hurry and chronicles a global trend toward putting on the brakes. It is the unofficial handbook and bible of the Slow Movement. It is published in more than 30 languages and has been a bestseller in many countries. It was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week and the inaugural choice for the Huffington Post Book Club. It also featured in a British TV sitcom, Argentina’s version of Big Brother and a TV commercial for the Motorola tablet. The Financial Times said In Praise of Slow is “to the Slow Movement what Das Kapital is to communism.”
Is the Slow Movement anti-speed?
Of course not! I’m not an extremist of slowness. I love speed. But faster is not always better. Being Slow means doing everything at the correct speed: quickly, slowly or whatever pace works best. Slow means being present, living each moment fully, putting quality before quantity in everything from work and sex to food and parenting.
Has our obsession with speed has gone to far?
It’s reached the point of absurdity. You can now do courses in Speed Yoga or attend a Drive Thru Funeral. A magazine in Britain even published an article recently on how to bring about an orgasm in 30 seconds! So even in the bedroom it’s, “On your marks, get set, go!” Our speedaholism is out of control, and we all know it.
What inspired you to embrace Slow?
A personal wake-up call. When I caught myself admiring a book of one-minute bedtime stories (Snow White in 60 seconds!), I suddenly realised I was racing through my life instead of living it.
But if we slow down, surely life will pass us by?
On the contrary. Life is what’s happening right here, right now – and only by slowing down can you live it to the full. If you are always rushing, you only skim the surface of things.
How has slowing down changed your life?
Every moment of my day used to be a race against the clock. Now I never feel rushed any more. I do fewer things but I do them better and enjoy them more. I am healthier and have more energy. At work, I am much more productive and creative. I also have time for those little moments that bring meaning and joy to life – reading to my children, sharing a glass of wine with my wife, chatting with a friend, pausing to gaze at a beautiful sunset. I feel so much more alive now.
Why do we live so fast today?
Lots of reasons. Speed is fun, sexy, an adrenaline rush. It’s like a drug and we are addicted. At the same time, the world has become a giant buffet of things to do, consume, experience – and we rush to have it all. The modern workplace also pushes us to work faster and longer while technology encourages us to do everything faster and faster.
What is the main obstacle to slowing down in this fast world?
Fear. Thanks to the powerful taboo against slowness, even just thinking about slowing down makes us feel afraid, guilty or ashamed. Add to that the fear of being alone with our thoughts. Speed is often an instrument of denial, a way of avoiding deeper problems. Instead of facing up to what is going wrong in our lives, we distract ourselves with speed and busyness.
Slowing down can be the antidote to that. It allows us to reflect on the big questions: Who am I? What is my purpose? What sort of life should I be leading? How can I make the world a better place? Such questions can be uncomfortable but confronting them ultimately brings greater depth to our lives.
Is the Slow Movement also gaining ground in the workplace?
Very much so. Forward-thinking companies all over the world are looking for ways to help their staff slow down. By giving them more control over their schedules so they can work at their own pace, accelerating and decelerating when it suits them. By limiting working hours. Or by creating quiet spaces for doing yoga, massage or even take a short nap during the workday. The boom in meditation or mindfulness in the corporate world is another sign that business is waking up to the power and wisdom of slowing down. Not long ago the Economist magazine told its readers: “Forget frantic acceleration. Mastering the clock of business is about choosing when to be fast and when to be slow.” And that’s the Economist singing the praises of slowness in the workplace; it’s not Buddhist Monthly or Acupuncture Weekly!
What are the tell-tale symptoms of living too fast?
When you feel tired all the time and like you’re just going through the motions, getting through the many things on your To-Do list but not engaging with them deeply or enjoying them very much. You don’t remember things as vividly when you rush through them. You feel like you’re racing through your life instead of actually living it. Illnesses are often the body’s way of saying, “Enough already, slow down!”
What is the future of the Slow Movement?
The good news is that the Slow movement is growing fast! And as the world gets faster, the need for a counter-current of slowness will grow too. I feel more optimistic now than I did when In Praise of Slow first came out.
But what do you say to people who claim that the world will inevitably go on speeding up and that a Slow revolution is pie in the sky?
I say look at the history books. Take the rise of feminism. In the 60s, when feminists said the world was unjust and the moment for change had come, the mainstream reaction was: No, the world has always been this way. You can’t change it. Go back to the kitchen! But look at the world today. Obviously there is a long way to go to create a world of perfect gender equality, but a woman today could hardly imagine how severely life was limited for her grandmother. I look at my sister and my grandmother and marvel at the change in just two generations. And the green movement has followed a similar arc: it was dismissed as a plaything for hippies and tree-huggers thirty years ago but today is near the top of the political agenda. The message is that the world can change, if we want it to. For a cultural revolution to occur, you need three factors: the need for change; an awareness of the need for change; and people willing to put that change into practice. We now have all three factors in place for the Slow revolution to push on. I think the Slow movement is at the same point as feminism or green-ism was 30 or 40 years ago. We won’t change the world, or make it Slow, by next year. It will take time. The Slow revolution will be slow. But I believe it will happen.
What will a Slow world look like?
It will be a world that is healthy, happy and humane. But you have to realistic. I am no utopian. I am a skeptic by nature. I don’t believe we will ever create a world where everyone does everything at the right speed and no one ever feels rushed. That’s just a fantasy. The world is too complex and interconnected for that. It’s impossible in a world where we have to interact with others. Impatience is also part of being human. I suspect even the Dalai Lama rushes unnecessarily sometimes! Even I forget to slow down from time to time. I face a barrage of requests to give speeches, do interviews, etc from all over the world every day and it’s hard not to get caught up in the frenzy. But at least our starting point should be to seek the tempo giusto and to expect others to do so too.
What do you hope readers will take away from In Praise of Slow?
I hope that they will pause and reflect on how they lead their lives and how their lives affect the people and the world around them. I guess what I really want is for readers to grasp the very counter-cultural idea that the best way to survive and thrive in the fast-paced modern world is not to speed up but to slow down. And it seems to be working. Every day I open up my inbox and find a few emails from readers around the world who say the book has changed their lives. It’s exciting, and humbling.
“(In Praise of Slow) is to the Slow Movement what Das Kapital is to communism.”
– Financial Times
“Thorough and highly persuasive, (In Praise of Slow) is well on its way to cult status. It has been described as the No Logo of its age, but it’s far more compelling and intelligent than that, and a necessary addition to the reading list of marketing, HR and new product development departments. Read (it) slowly to allow inward digestion without dyspepsia.”
– Matthew Gwyther, editor Management Today
“This charmingly written exploration of the quiet life is so good, you have to resist the temptation to race through. A million times more inspiring than any of the mass of self-help books around on downshifting. A rare treat to be savoured — at your own pace, of course.”
– Sunday Express
“In Praise of Slowness is a revelation… It is possible to decelerate and business could gain so much from a sense of work-life balance.”
– Business World
“I am learning to pace myself with a nightly dose of this book. Honoré is a journalist and TED speaker exploring the global backlash against the modern cult of speed living. All Londoners should read it.”
– Evening Standard (London)
“In brisk, cleanly written chapters, Honoré traces his personal encounters with advocates of slow living. In Praise of Slowness shows us various methods to release ourselves from what Baudelaire denounced as ‘the horrible burden of time,’ to break free of the ‘Matrix’-like illusion that we have no choice.”
– Washington Post
“(An) entertaining…hymn to the pleasure of allowing everything its proper time…well executed and persuasive.”
– Will Hutton, Guardian
“Readable and persuasive… it is virtually impossible to read Honore’s book without deciding to take things, you know, a little slower from now on.”
– Irish Times
“A wonderful book…”
– Katrina vanden Heuvel editor, The Nation
“Honoré makes an eloquent and convincing case for slowing down. His book challenges the conventional view that faster is better. Readers would be wise to savour it slowly.”
– Montreal Gazette
“(This) book makes a persuasive case against mindless speed and offers an intriguing array of concrete suggestions about ways “to make the moment last.”
– Los Angeles Times
“A terrific book.”
– Arianna Huffington (In Praise of Slowness was the inaugural choice for the Huffington Post book club.)
“Rush to your bookshop!”
– Mail on Sunday
“In his well-researched and often amusing book, Honoré presents an eloquent case for a thorough re-examination of priorities and shows how even subtle shifts in the way we live can have a very real effect on our well-being.”
“It’s about time someone insisted – in intelligent, persuasive language – that we all put on the brakes, or at least check the instruments on the dashboard. Through anecdote, statistic and argument, Honoré wants to convert us to an atheism that is opposed to this culture’s mad theology of speed.”
– Billy Collins, former American Poet Laureate
“His advice is too grounded in day-to-day practicality to be guilty of didacticism or whimsy… read this uplifting and enlightening book very soon; but do, please, take your time.”
– Times Literary Supplement
“Honoré offers compelling evidence that suggests controlling your own tempo of life is not only a healthier and happier alternative, but leads to a more rewarding and productive lifestyle.”
– Toronto Star
“Engagingly written and filled with interesting detail, (this) book is a timely manifesto for a more civilized world.”
– Sunday Times (Book of the Week)
“It’s about time someone took issue with the underlying mentality that sets our daily metronome…Those who savour this hopeful book one chapter at a time will be the biggest winners. It’s seductively crafted, ¶measuring out its subversive but ultimately healing message.”
– Edmonton Journal
“In Praise of Slowness has made Honoré the unofficial godfather of a growing cultural shift toward slowing down.”
– ABC News (US)
“Honoré’s excellent new book is a fascinating and well-guided tour of his own journey in search of the world of slow. Vibrant and very readable.”
– Winnipeg Free Press
“A compelling read. The book has a personal, intimate tone that belies the author’s considerable research…It’s great strength is that it consolidates seemingly disparate ideas (slow food and slow work!), providing a unique insight into a pervasive cultural issue…Honoré gives his readers an opportunity to change their lives for the better.”
– Vancouver Sun
“This slow thinker may be far ahead of his time.”
– Body & Soul Magazine
“Honoré (is) an international spokesman for the concept of leisure. It’s a message people seem to want to hear.”
“In his appealing first-person approach, Honoré offers a you-are-there view of global efforts to challenge the “false god” of speed. Engaging and persuasive.”
– Christian Science Monitor (chosen as one of the Books of 2004)
” In Praise of Slow (is) the bible of craftsmen and amblers everywhere.”
– Tim Adams, The Guardian
“An amazing, poignant book…gives you such an in-depth look at our destructive culture and what we can do to help it, that it’s impossible not to consider applying these suggestions for slow living to yourself. Who knows? Maybe reading this book could be a life-altering experience!”
“Honoré is particularly good at detailing the addictive properties and vagaries of speed, and its ill effects on individuals and society, including himself.”
– Globe and Mail (Canada)
“A fascinating take on a subject that involves us all and makes truly though-provoking reading.”
– Good Book Guide
“Enjoyable and thought-provoking book.”
– Children And Young People Now
“An intelligent manifesto that overturns the idea of speed as an absolute good…Much more than a hymn to slowness…A guide with tips and tools to transform the way we live.”
– La Repubblica (Italy)
“Packed with a power of fact, history, anecdote and reflection…The book delivers on its title – it praises life lived more slowly and is supported by good investigative reporting and firsthand experience.”
– Pacific Sun (US)
“The speed of life borders on insanity for an increasing number of us, and the price we pay is the erosion of our happiness and health. If you sometimes feel engulfed by the mad pace of modern life – and who doesn’t? – In Praise of Slowness could prove life-saving.”
– Larry Dossey, MD, author of Healing Beyond the Body and Reinventing Medicine
– Ode Magazine
“Honoré approaches his subject with fairness and balance, and his journey unfolds entertainingly and objectively…(He) takes the position of everyperson, and the book is strengthened by that.If you’re looking for an accessible initial touchstone on the subject (of slowing down), this is it.”
– Courier Mail (Brisbane, Australia)
“Honoré is no true-believer – he questions every aspect of the Slow movement and keeps coming up with the conclusion that it just makes sense: life in the slow lane is more enjoyable, more pleasurable, more humane. This is a remarkable book that should be read by every resident of today’s frenzied urban world.”
– Mark Frutkin, author of Acts of Light (poetry) and The Lion of Venice (novel)
“A thoughtful guide and a convincing manifesto for changing the pace of our lives… a skillful blend of research, observation, and humor. Honoré comes across as neither too self-conscious nor too self-confident, but rather as exuberant and genuine. In Praise of Slowness is a gift to all of us.”
– Science and Spirit magazine
– Evergreen Monthly
“In this terrific book, Carl Honoré gets to the heart of what’s ailing western industrial societies – our obsession with productivity, speed and consumerism – but he doesn’t stop with the gloom and doom. Instead, he shows the way out, with inspiring examples from the growing worldwide ’slow’ movement. Take the time to read this important, excellently written book – our future depends on the ideas it contains!”
– John de Graaf, co-author of Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, and editor, Take Back Your Time
“Delightful, surprising, inspiring – and subversive. There is so much food for thought here that I cannot recommend this book enough.”
– Yes! Magazine
“A magnificent appraisal of the measured life.”
– SF Weekly
“This is a hopeful book that offers a plethora of ways to join the Slow revolution…extensively researched and well-presented.”
– Canadian Literature
“The novelty of Honoré’s approach lies in its practicality.”
– The Japan Times
“Persuasive, alarming and reassuring all at once. In lucid prose Honoré weaves his research and reflection with journalistic anecdotes so vivid you can feel the tantric tingling, taste the creamy artisan cheese — and imagine what it might be like to live at tempo giusto, choosing the right pace for each moment.”
– National Catholic Reporter
“Entrepreneur and slow may seem like oxymorons. However, taking the time to read In Praise of Slowness may be the best decision an entrepreneur, or anyone working full time, can make.”
– Gary Erickson, Entrepreneur, CEO of Clif Bar Inc. and author of Raising the Bar
“In Praise of Slow could be an antidote to our fast-paced lives.”
– SEE Magazine
“Superb and eminently readable. Honoré has written an incisive overview of an important cultural phenomenon.”
– Spirituality and Health
“Honoré’s journalistic background makes this book a particular pleasure to read. He combines fact, analysis and anecdote elegantly and compellingly. He approaches all Slow activities with a healthy skepticism, which makes it all the more convincing when he’s eventually won over – or not. Honoré is never evangelical: this is not a self-help book. In Praise of Slow is simply an intelligent, sincere account of his own education in the Slow philosophy, the research he’s conducted to understand it better, and his genuine faith in the ability of this movement to improve people’s lives. By the end of the book, it’s difficult to disagree with Honoré’s conviction that most people would benefit from slowing down.”
– FFWD (Calgary weekly)
“An engaging, well-written introduction to a philosophy which almost all of us could benefit from…. an eloquent, considered work of praise for the Slow Movement, and important reading for all of us who wish to live a richer and fuller life.”
– Resurgence (UK)
“Honoré makes a strong case against the demon of speed.”
– San Antonio Express
“Try reading this book one chapter a day – it is worth allowing its subversive message to sink slowly in so it has a chance of changing your life.”
– Bill McKibben, author of Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age and The End of Nature
“Part reportage, part manifesto, In Praise of Slowness is an engaging, well-written journey into the various ways that people around the globe have attempted to live more patiently.”
– Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The reader is presented with a careful road map to a happier life.”
– Willamette Week
“An important work that will induce greater awareness of our present hurried state-as well as the wholesome alternative.”
– Yoga Journal