Book Review: Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
Mos of the books I’ve reviewed lately have been fiction, but I do read a lot of nonfiction books too. For the last few weeks, Rest: why you get more done when you work less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang has been my book for reading in the bath.
The author seems to have been in several magazines over the last few months talking about the principles of the book, and since I liked what he had to say I decided to buy it and read it for myself. I was not disappointed.
Many books in this field can easily fall into that wishy-washy area of “just take a break, man” – with no actual logic or science behind it. We all know it’s “good” for us to rest, but we all also have a never-ending to-do list and numerous other responsibilities to keep us busy from dawn til dusk. Taking time out is hard to justify if your workload is still as heavy as ever.
These days there seems to be this glorification of “busy” where people compete as to who has the most work, stays up the latest, gets up the earliest. Which is nice and all, but I’d rather be successful and productive than busy.
What I love about this book is that while it is clearly about taking a break and all the ways you can or should go about doing that, there isn’t even a whiff of hippie wishy-washiness. The book references numerous scientific studies as well as examples of famous and not-so famous people from the modern day and from history. For example, did you know that even at the height of the Second World War, Churchill still got changed in to pyjamas and had a nap every day? Hitler, on the other hand, did not.
This book is packed with tips for increasing our down time and maximising the quality of it. Each is backed by scientific studies so that it’s not just some Silicon Valley consultant saying “take a break; you might get more done.”
I think we all know that if we take a holiday or get a good night’s sleep we perform better at work and are better able to come up with creative ideas – but it’s really hard these days to prioritise those things over everything else. As a self employed single parent especially, I find it hard to just take time out. I bought this book, but I often accept books for review on this blog so that I have an excuse to just sit and read from time to time! The idea of just sitting down or taking a nap – imagine – fills me with guilt over being lazy and decadent, “not getting things done.” But actually, as the science in this book shows, if I do take time out to rest, I can get more done.
The book is split into two sections. Part 1 is about stimulating creativity; part 2 is sustaining creativity. I found that even reading the introduction felt like I had learned a great deal – and there are so many page corners turned down at points where I wanted to remember a particularly salient point, the book is now twice its original size.
Despite the fact this book is crammed with studies, quotes and information it was not hard to read. I found it a surprisingly engaging and enjoyable book to read which can be hard to achieve with a nonfiction book. I found the stories of Darwin taking long walks and Dickens working just five hours each day fascinating.
All in all, this is a brilliant read – and great for anyone looking for an excuse to take a break and do some reading!
Thanks for reading.