We are living on the wrong clock, and it is destroying us. The New York Times bestselling author of How to Do Nothing offers us different ways to experience time in this dazzling, subversive, and deeply hopeful book.
In her first book, How to Do Nothing, Jenny Odell wrote about the importance of disconnecting from the "attention economy" to spend time in quiet contemplation. But what if you don't have time to spend?
In order to answer this seemingly simple question, Odell took a deep dive into the fundamental structure of our society and found that the clock we live by was built for profit, not people. This is why our lives, even in leisure, have come to seem like a series of moments to be bought, sold, and processed ever more efficiently. Odell shows us how our painful relationship to time is inextricably connected not only to persisting social inequities but to the climate crisis, existential dread, and a lethal fatalism.
This dazzling, subversive, and deeply hopeful book offers us different ways to experience time – inspired by pre-industrial cultures, ecological cues, and geological timescales – that can bring within reach a more humane, responsive way of living. As planet-bound animals, we live inside shortening and lengthening days alongside gardens growing, birds migrating, and cliffs eroding; the stretchy quality of waiting and desire; the way the present may suddenly feel marbled with childhood memory; the slow but sure procession of a pregnancy; the time it takes to heal from injuries. Odell urges us to become stewards of these different rhythms of life in which time is not reducible to standardized units and instead forms the very medium of possibility.
Saving Time tugs at the seams of reality as we know it – the way we experience time itself – and rearranges it, imagining a world not centered on work, the office clock, or the profit motive. If we can "save" time by imagining a life, identity, and source of meaning outside these things, time might also save us.
Jenny Odell is a multi-disciplinary artist and author. Her first book was the New York Times Bestseller, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, New York Times, Sierra Magazine, and more. She lives in Oakland, California.
"Saving Time is an exposé of our past, an antidote to our present, and a manifesto for the future. It is rigorous, compassionate, profound, and hopeful. It is one of the most important books I've read in my life"
– Ed Yong, author of An Immense World
"A revealing exploration of the forces that keep us locked in a shallow, commodified and adversarial relationship with time. But it is also a portal to a far richer alternative. To read it is to slip through the bars of our modern temporal prison and experience how freedom might feel"
– Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks
"The rarest kind of intervention: it alters you immediately, and then it lasts [...] Saving Time is an inimitable gift"
– Jia Tolentino, author of Trick Mirror
"A rare book that does more than meet the current moment, it defines it"
"Odell's journey to find the best way to use our limited time on earth is an eye-opening look at what it really means to be alive"
"Fiercely generous [...] invites us to exit the superhighways and explore the scenic detours, byways, rebel camps, the other visions of who we can be while reminding us that slowness can yield more than speed"
– Rebecca Solnit, author of Orwell's Roses
"Odell has gifted us a way to move through this intertidal moment by reclaiming our more intuitive, felt experience of the passage of time. [...] A beautiful, clarifying, and surprisingly reassuring literary triumph"
– Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock
"Saving Time is about what it means to be on the clock, personally, politically and existentially. The book's writing glows. Reading this book is like being in the company of a particularly thoughtful friend: Odell shows you the truths of the structures you inhabit and then, warmly, attempts to protect you from your own nihilism"
– Alissa Quart, author of Bootstrapped
"From the vast sweep of geological time to incremental seasonal changes observed on a single branch in a local park, this potently mysterious book explores the ways in which we might begin to challenge the cramped temporal confines of our modern lives"
– Helen Gordon, author of Landfall
"By now a legend thanks to the simple but impactful wisdom of her first book, How to Do Nothing, Jenny Odell furthers her argument for escaping the so-called attention economy. [...] This follow-up promises to be as satisfying, optimistic, and enrapturing as Odell's orginal bestseller"
"The bestselling author of How to Do Nothing [...] returns with another urgent examination of modern life"
"A moving and provocative game changer"
– Publishers Weekly
"A penetrating, provocative investigation into the subject of time – how to understand and live with it – on both an individual and societal level [...] impressive"
– Shelf Awareness
"Temporal structure has its comforts, particularly following a tumultuous three years [...] That yo-yo effect [of the last few years] drew me to Saving Time, Jenny Odells sharp book tracing the cultural forces that shape our conception of time"
– Laura Regensdorf, Vanity Fair