'In Praise of Slow - how a worldwide movement is challenging the cult of speed' by Carl Honore
reviewed by nicole fox-noble
It feels just right that this is the first book review for Slow Travel Magazine. For the uninitiated, "In Praise of Slow" is an introduction to what the worldwide Slow movement is all about. For those who have already embraced Slow living this book will give affirmation and inspiration. "In Praise of Slow" eloquently defines the rebellion against speed-living with straight forward rationale.
The Author, Carl Honoré, offers himself as an example of someone in need of slowing down and the extraordinary and positive change this has had on his life. Woven through this journal of sorts that leads to his personal transformation, are some fascinating facts about the human obsession with time since its invention. "In Praise of Slow" meanders informatively through the history and philosophy of 'time'. There are 10 chapters which each encompass a different application for Slow to the way we live; from food, travel and love, to sex, parenting and work.
According to Mr Honoré "the Slow philosophy is summed up in a single word: balance".
Ironically, when I first picked up this book I read it at a rapid rate of a chapter a day, such was my instant connection with the concept of Slow at a time in my life when I was experiencing personal realignment. Carl Honoré has a very engaging style of writing that has the reader sharing in his curiosity and often humorous observations of human nature and society. For my second reading of the book I adopted a more relaxed tempo and enjoyed each chapter with a more mindful approach, singling out areas of my life and openly wondering how Slow was relevant to each of them (it's true to say I really am a Slow learner!)
Slow is 'calm, careful, receptive, still, intuitive, un-hurried, patient, reflective, quality-over-quantity. It is about making real and meaningful connections - with people, culture, work, food, everything'
The book was published over a decade ago, and since then Carl Honoré has launched The Slow Revolution podcast and more recently a TV show "Frantic Family Rescue", and is a popular speaker worldwide. I wanted to find out from Mr Honoré what he thought about how Slow has evolved since first writing about it.
Since writing "In Praise of Slow" what, to you, is most remarkable about the growth and speed of the slow movement over the last 10 years?
I’m blown away by the scale and pace of the growth. When I first starting kicking around the idea of a “slow movement,” things were just starting to happen, and mostly below the radar. Now Slow is mainstream. Everywhere, people are using the lens of Slow to rethink what they’re doing in order to do it better. Even people you would never expect to embrace Slow are doing so: just look at the robust Slow Fashion movement.
I am regularly contacted by students who are devoting their university thesis to some aspect of Slow. Every day, I get emails from people around the world telling me how slowing down has changed their lives, their careers, their families, their companies for the better. We are all scared to decelerate, so it gives us confidence to see others doing so and reaping the benefits. The knock-on effect is really starting to kick in now.
What aspect of Slow living for you has become the most rewarding?
That’s easy: relearning the lost art of being in the moment. Back when I was stuck in fast forward, I never really enjoyed things properly because I was always rushing and trying to do several things at once. Now I slow down and savour the moment, whether it’s reading a bedtime story to my children, sipping a glass of wine with my wife, chatting with a neighbour, or stopping and staring at a beautiful building or sunset. I feel like I’m living my life now instead of racing through it.
If you were to take a year of Slow Travel, what would be your chosen destinations..?
The Amazon, the far north of Canada and Cuba.
Thank you Carl for your candid and thoughtful responses!
READABILITY RATING ON A SLOW SCALE
This is a top read while under a tree, in bed, on the beach or in the bath.
Suitable for everyone and very re-readable.
As a book to read while travelling, "In Praise of Slow" can be read at any pace. It's the kind of book you can pick up and put it down without losing momentum. "In Praise of Slow" will challenge you in at least one area of your life and give rise to discussion and debate worthy of both long and short road trips.