June’s Reads & Books for July

Carl Honoré, Raymond M. Kethledge & Michael S. Erwin

Pascal Janetzky

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As in July, two great works came across my reading table. Both books explore two oft-neglected aspects of our lives: being slow and being alone. Enjoy reading them!

In Praise of Slowness, by Carl Honoré

The world we live in values speed. The untold motto we all unconsciously subscribe to is doing things faster. Getting faster from A to B (as if the outside of A and B is just an annoying necessity to traverse), getting in shape faster, and working faster. Going fast all the time is as limiting as being slow all the time; one needs to find the tempo giusto. That is what author Carl Honoré set out to do with his book. Over several chapters, he covers how we can introduce more slowness into our hectic lives.

The first thing we can adapt is to eat slower, eat more mindfully. While a quick food stop at a fast food “restaurant” is tempting, what we get from devouring such junk is repelling. We eat more (because we do not get the stop signal from our stomach in time), we eat unhealthily, heck, we often can’t even name the ingredients. In contrast, by preparing, as often as we can, our dinner ourselves, we get to know what goes into our meal. By manually cutting onions, peeling potatoes, and seasoning meat we get a chance to take a step back from the busy, scheduled lifestyle we’ve come to see as the norm. Cooking can be an escape.

In the successive chapters, Honoré guides us through further aspects of our lives that we can decelerate. For example, there’s a chapter devoted to slowing (i.e., calming) the mind. Here, meditation, an age-old technique practiced by countless leaders, is one of the most-accessible „tools“ we can use. Besides focusing on our bodies, we should also slow down the education of the next generation. Instead of cramping our kids’ schedules to the maximum, we must give them space and, critically, unstructured time to explore the world. Contrary to what we might suspect, giving our offspring a slower education does not have any negative impact on their future. Quite contrary, by exploring a topic at a slower pace, they develop a more throughout understanding of the subject.

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