How to do Nothing: Jenny Odell and Aparna Nancherla (PRINCE STREET)

A galvanizing critique of the forces vying for our attention—and our personal information—that redefines what we think of as productivity, reconnects us with the environment, and reveals all that we’ve been too distracted to see about ourselves and our world

Nothing is harder to do these days than nothing. But in a world where our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity . . . doing nothing may be our most important form of resistance. 

So argues artist and critic Jenny Odell in this field guide to doing nothing (at least as capitalism defines it). Odell sees our attention as the most precious—and overdrawn—resource we have. Once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress. 

Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we read so often, How to do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, this book is a four-course meal in the age of Soylent.

Jenny Odell is an artist and writer who teaches at Stanford University. She has been an artist-in-residence at places such as the San Francisco dump, Facebook, the Internet Archive, and the San Francisco Planning Department, and has exhibited her art all over the world. She lives in Oakland, California, with her sometimes-pet crow.

Aparna Nancherla started out doing comedy in her hometown of Washington D.C. and now resides in New York City. 2016’s Elle’s Women in Comedy Issue, featured her as one of the most exciting new voices to hit the comedy scene. She is a series regular in Comedy Central’s Corporate and reprised her role in season 3 of HBO’s CRASHING. Aparna is also featured in the second season of Netflix’s The Standups. Most recently, she wrapped the writer’s room for Season 1 as Co-Producer for the Rob McElhenney/Charlie Day Apple Comedy Hero’s Quest. Other television credits include Netflix’s Master of None and LOVE, HBO’s High Maintenance Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, appearing as a US correspondent for Dave’s (UK) Unspun with Matt Forde, and Hulu’s I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman. In 2018 she makes her feature debut in the Paul Feig movie A Simple Favor. Her TV stand up appearances include Seeso’s stand up series Night Train with Wyatt Cenac, season 2 of Comedy Central’s Meltdown as well as Adam Devine’s House Party.

In 2013, she made her late night stand up debut on TBS’s Conan and was one of the breakout New Faces at the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal. Her TV writing credits include Late Night with Seth Meyers as well as being a regular correspondent/writer on FX’s Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. She is also an alumna of the NBC Stand Up for Diversity program and currently headlines throughout the world and has been seen at a number of festivals including Comedy Central’s Clusterfest, Portland’s Bridgetown Comedy Festival, Moontower, SF Sketchfest, DC’s Bentzen Ball, Outside Lands, Bonnaroo and Dublin’s Vodaphone Comedy Festival. Aparna’s been featured on and in NPR, Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post Magazine, XM Radio, and Slate V.

She can regularly be seen performing at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade’s in LA and NYC. Her debut album Just Putting It Out There was released in July 2016 by Tig Notaro’s label Bentzen Ball Records and hit the #4 on Billboard Comedy Charts.

Event date: 

Monday, July 22, 2019 - 7:00pm

Event address: 

52 Prince St
New York, NY 10012
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9781612197494
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House - April 9th, 2019