9 Books to Help You Say No to Hustle Culture
Skip the hustle hamster wheel with these must-read odes to doing less.
Feeling ground down by the grind? You’re not the only one. A recent Samsonite survey of 800 U.S. adults conducted by The Harris Poll found that 65 percent of Americans say they urgently need a vacation from work, while 56 percent are experiencing burnout at their current job. With more than half of Americans struggling to keep up with the can’t-stop, won’t-stop mentality, it’s worth considering: Is the grind of hustle culture really worth it?
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If you’re aching to slow down and step off the hustle-culture assembly line, these inspiring reads will help you to embrace the art of not-doing so you can take back your time and energy.
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
In How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, an ode to the virtues of, well, doing nothing, writer and artist Jenny Odell brings the reader into her world, where attention leads to wonder, renewal and depth of feeling.
Joining anecdotes from her Bay Area life with powerful literary and historical references, Odell makes a strong case for resisting the lure of addictive technology that’s designed to profit from ever-shortening attention spans.
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The beauty in Odell’s narrative is that it doesn’t rail against the ethos of productivity, social relevance and constant on-ness. Instead, it vividly paints a picture of how paying deep attention can enrich life, inspire action and, ultimately, make our experiences more meaningful.
Not only that, but Odell’s advice is practical and realistic for each of us trying to resist hustle culture. That is, it doesn’t require that we abandon technology or modern conveniences — only that we slow down enough to pay attention to the magic already happening.
Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times
Whether the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or a sudden layoff, life is full of unforeseen circumstances. Luckily, Katherine May’s Wintering: The Power or Rest and Retreat in Difficult Time, offers a fresh, compassionate approach to navigating those ups and downs without muscling your way through or stuffing down your feelings.
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Instead, May shares personal stories of illness and family difficulty that give the reader permission to be deeply human. She draws on lessons from renowned authors, myth and the natural world to illustrate that weathering the deep throes of pain and upheaval may best be done with committed acceptance rather than frustrated resistance.
Guiding readers to embrace sadness by leaning into the desire to rest, retreat and regroup, May offers a refreshing approach to the typical “grin and bear it” mantra.
The book is ultimately a testament to the transformative power of difficulty and the possibility of something new.
Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto
Give me your tired, your hungry, your sleep-deprived masses. Tricia Hersey, aka the Nap Bishop, is ready to kick capitalism to the curb with Rest Is Resistance, A Manifesto, a compelling and practical blend of storytelling and real-world guidance.
The ultimate message? Our worth isn’t dictated by how much we produce for an exploitative and dehumanizing system.
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Drawing on Black liberation, somatics and Afrofuturism, Hersey’s manifesto is a poignant and lyrical call to action for everyone who longs to be freed from the injustice of the hustle and reclaim their power through rest.
Hersey argues rest is a profound act of resistance that challenges the same market logic that justified the enslavement of millions of people. In other words, rest is the way of liberation.
You may have heard of Canadian poet Rupi Kaur’s 2022 release, Healing Through Words. But her third poetry collection, Home Body, is an equally honest and uplifting treatise celebrating love, community and self-acceptance.
With the support of themes like embracing the body, arriving home, nurturing the soul and looking to nature for inspiration, Kaur’s work invites the reader to settle into a slower pace and savor the taste and nuance of each piece, whether read one at a time or all together.
Her writing has a simple, stream-of-consciousness feel that makes it both relatable and intimate. The rich imagery, paired with Kaur’s trademark vulnerability, makes it difficult not to fall in love with her words.
The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry
With The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, Pastor John Mark Comer tells the story of a life that was, by all accounts, a success, but that left him struggling inside.
After a trusted mentor advises him that, “Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life,” Comer goes on a journey to ruthlessly eliminate all forms of rushing from his way of being.
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Diving into the “why” behind this phenomenon, Comer provides a how-to from his personal experience to stop treating the symptoms of the modern malaise. Instead, go straight to the root by slowing the heck down, and resisting hustle culture.
Comer argues that emotional health and spiritual vitality naturally arise when we choose not to join in the chaos of modern living. You know, hustle culture.
Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less
Silicon Valley business consultant Alex Soojung Pang might be an unlikely candidate to write about rest. However, his rigorous research, combined with colorful anecdotes, makes a strong case that rest is exactly what we need.
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In Rest: Why You Get More When You Work Less, Pang argues rest is actually the key to productivity, not the enemy of it. He points to the returns in energy, mental acuity, and overall life satisfaction.
Instead of idle escapism or mindless scrolling, Pang argues for “deliberate rest,” a kind of intentional relaxation that replenishes the body, mind and spirit so you can get up and do it all again.
If you’re inspired by stories by great artists and thinkers, like Charles Darwin and Stephen King, you’ll love this well-researched guide to the logic of relaxation.
Pause, Rest, Be: Stillness Practices for Courage in Times of Change
Activist and yoga teacher Octavia F. Raheem’s Pause, Rest, Be offers a refreshing and needed invitation to stop pushing your way through life and to instead honor whatever arises.
Through rest and reflection, Raheem shows the way to embrace change without burning out, and to navigate life’s challenges while staying connected and clear.
With highly actionable practices, from yoga poses and mindful reflections, Raheem leads the way to experiencing life with grace — by staying present, open and connected through the power of stillness.
Tired as F*ck: Burnout at the Hands of Diet, Self-Help, and Hustle Culture
In so doing, Dooner gives us permission to simply say no to all the things that make us feel less than, overwhelmed, and like we are never quite enough.
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From spiritual ultimatums to cult-like self-improvement practices, Dooner shares her attempts at becoming “better” — and the eventual realization that she’s perfectly fine the way she is.
The message is ultimately one of relief, as Dooner calls for a revision of toxic wellness messaging, and instead emphasizes the virtues of doing less, embracing our humanity, and simply letting go of the need to improve.
How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing
If you’ve ever struggled with stress, anxiety, ADHD, fatigue or depression (read: being human), therapist KC Davis will be a breath of fresh air.
In How to Keep House While Drowning, she offers the relatable, intimate story of her own challenges of giving birth to her second child, and suddenly feeling like she could never keep up, to the point she didn’t fold laundry for seven months.
What seemed like a breakdown eventually led Davis to realize that her moral worth isn’t defined by how messy her house is — and neither is yours.
Reframing piles of dishes as signs of a well-fed, nourished family, Davis’ outlook can help you free yourself from the pressure and shame so often associated with a disheveled home.
Both in the book and on her popular TikTok account, @domesticblisters, Davis also offers practical tips for prioritizing what needs to be done, staggering tasks to tackle procrastination, and employing creative shortcuts to get things functioning again.
In short, she will help you turn your home into the sanctuary you deserve while also cutting yourself a break for that mess you’re just not ready to clean up yet.