Wednesday, November 21, 2007
When I was up in Rhinebeck over the weekend, some friends and I stopped in to a little bookshop called Oblong Books & Music. I originally intended only to kill some time - we had an hour or so before the bus left to bring us back to Manhattan. But as I browsed, I was amazed at the store’s careful selection. I wanted to read EVERYTHING I found.
I settled for a couple of books by Augusten Burroughs, whose memoirs “Running With Scissors” and “Dry” I read and enjoyed a couple of years ago. And then, browsing the sale rack, I came upon an intriguing book by Cecile Andrews called “Slow is Beautiful: New visions of community, leisure and joie de vivre.”
I started reading this book almost immediately, and I’m not sure when I’ve read something that I’ve agreed with so completely and emphatically. Every point Andrews makes has me going “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
The book is not only about slowing down our lives, but questioning all the things we’re brought up to believe: That aggressive capitalism and competition are good, that working more makes us happy, that having more money brings greater peace of mind. Andrews basically throws cold water on all that mythology, arguing that we need to take more time to love, cultivate friendships, explore our worlds, have hobbies -- and that society is unfortunately heading in the opposite direction.
I thought it was interesting that I found this book in a small, independent bookstore. I’m not sure I could have found it so readily at a large chain, which seems to speak to another of Andrews’ warnings -- that increasing corporatization (if that’s a word) is a danger to our communities.
Anyway, if you’re at all interested in these topics, I heartily recommend checking out this book. It’s published by New Society Publishers.
(Photo: Autumn in Madison Square Park, October 2007)