Monthly Archives: January 2014

How to Avoid Work

I’ve been pretty bad about getting new stuff posted on this blog.  I’ve got some pretty interesting DIY pieces that I’ve been working on, I just haven’t been very good about getting them all wrapped up, combined with pictures and posted.  I’ve been seriously thinking about putting out a new issue of Resist Zine so maybe I’m saving some of it until I publish that.  Or maybe I just have a lot going on in my life right now and posting new things to this blog has been on the back burner.  One thing I have been writing however is book reviews.  Not a whole lot of them, but sometimes when I finish a book I like to review it just for myself.  To go back over it and think about what I liked and what I didn’t like and what I might have learned from it.  As this one is technically a “How to” book, it seems like it would be a good one for my first review on this blog.


How to Avoid Work

by William Reilly


“When we consider that each of us has only one life to live, isn’t it rather tragic to find men and women, with brains capable of comprehending the stars and planets, talking about the weather; men and women, with hands capable of creating works of art, using those hands only for routine tasks; men and women, capable of independent thought, using their minds as a bowling-alley for popular ideas; men and women capable of greatness, wallowing in mediocrity; men and women capable of self-expression, slowing dying a mental death while they babble the confused monotone of the mob?”

 This book isn’t about giving up work.  It’s about giving up one kind of work for another, which is fine.  The idea is that if you’re doing something that you’re interested in, it’s not really work.  What’s work to one person is leisure to another.  The problem I find with this book is that it seems like most of it is about going from one “office” (paper shuffling) job to another.  He talks about how your skills should be able to transfer from one place to another if you work it correctly.  There are very few examples of someone going from a paper shuffling job to more hands on “work.”  And in fact, he discourages you from taking that kind of leap.  He seems especially to have something against farming.

He does make some very good points in here though.  For example, stating that time is great equalizer.  Everybody gets the same amount of time, and those that tend to really make things happen are those that don’t waste their “free” time.  At one point he talks about the fact that he’s writing this book while waiting for a delayed train which I thought was funny because I was reading the book while waiting in line at the IRS.  So there’s some pretty great ideas on using the time that you have.

He also talks about not letting people influence you too much.  He takes some time telling you that you need to make plans, and how to go about that… but he also says that you just have to start.  Sometimes you have to figure out the next step and just take it while you’re figuring out the rest.

This book is from 1949 and as such some of the ideas are pretty dated, especially as relates to what’s expected of women.  It’s not the most inspiring book that I’ve ever read, but I think it was worth reading.