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Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

It seems like since the debut of smartphones, many of us have lost the habits of being really alone and of being genuinely present with others.  This book is an exploration of solitude and of what we lose when we give it up.  I recommend it to anyone who feels tethered to their phone, to anyone who loves to daydream, and to anyone who finds themselves leading a life of "strangely crowded loneliness."

— From Solitude, by Michael Harris


With a foreword by Nicholas Carr, author of the Pulitzer Prize–finalist The Shallows.

Today, society embraces sharing like never before. Fueled by our dependence on mobile devices and social media, we have created an ecosystem of obsessive connection. Many of us now lead lives of strangely crowded isolation: we are always linked, but only shallowly so.

The capacity to be alone, properly alone, is one of life’s subtlest skills. Real solitude is a powerful resource we can call upon—a crucial ingredient for a rich interior life. It inspires reflection, allows creativity to flourish, and improves our relationships with ourselves and, unexpectedly, with others. Idle hands can, in fact, produce the extraordinary. In living bigger and faster, we have forgotten the joys of silence, and undervalued how profoundly it can revolutionize our lives.

This book is about discovering stillness inside the city, inside the crowd, inside our busy lives. With wit and energy, award-winning author Michael Harris weaves captivating true stories with reporting from the world’s foremost brain researchers, psychologists, and tech entrepreneurs to guide us toward a state of measured connectivity that balances quiet and companionship.

is a beautiful and convincing statement on the transformative power of being alone.

About the Author

MICHAEL HARRIS is the author of The End of Absence, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award in Canada and became a national bestseller. He writes about media, civil liberties, and the arts for dozens of publications, including The Washington Post, Wired, Salon, The Huffington Post, and The Globe & Mail. His work has been a finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize, the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, the Chautauqua Prize, the CBC Bookie Awards, and several National Magazine Awards. He lives in Vancouver with his partner, the artist Kenny Park.

Praise For…

"We should remind ourselves that a life without solitude is a diminished life. What makes this book so valuable and so timely is that it serves both as a reminder of solitude’s worth and as a spur to resistance. Read it in peace." —From the foreword by Nicholas Carr

"I came away from this book a better human being. Michael Harris's take on existence is calm, unique, and makes one's soul feel good." —Douglas Coupland, best-selling author of Generation X

"Solitude is a gorgeously written and fascinating book, richly detailed and thought-provoking throughout. I highly recommend it." —Michael Finkel, New York Times best-selling author of True Story and The Stranger in the Woods

"In a time of unrelenting connection, solitude becomes a radical act. It also becomes an essential one. Michael Harris makes a thoughtful and deeply felt case for why the art of spending quality time with oneself matters now more than ever—and the steps we can take to reclaim it." —Brian Christian, author of The Most Human Human and Algorithms to Live By

"This is an excellent book by a first-rate writer. Michael Harris brings his insight and eloquence to bear on one of the most insidious problems of our time: how to break free from the seductions of technology and reclaim our inner selves." —Deborah Campbell, award-winning author of A Disappearance in Damascus

"Michael Harris’s Solitude is a delightful reminder that, contrary to current wisdom, we cannot be fully human unless our minds are free to wander. An essential and spirited companion as our digital culture accelerates into the unknown." —Andrew Westoll, award-winning author of The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary

"A timely, eloquent provocation to daydream and wander." Nathan Filer, award-winning author of The Shock of the Fall

"Reading Harris's book is like smashing your Google Glasses and looking through your unique lenses for the first time." —William Powers, award-winning author of Twelve by Twelve, Off the Grid & Beyond the American Dream and New Slow City

Michael Harris senses that something precious has been lost." The Atlantic

"This year, a spate of new books offers amazing feats of solitude. The titles in part respond to the live-out-loud era of social media, where anyone with a device always has some form of company ... 'You could call it crowd sickness,' said Michael Harris." The Wall Street Journal

"A poetic, contemplative journey into the benefits of solo sojourning." —Elle Canada

"Solitude ... serves as a manual for cutting out your life's unwanted noise and embracing the quiet." —Zoomer

"Harris makes a compelling case for how true aloneness is both a form of expertise and a reward." The Georgia Straight

"Harris reflects personally and powerfully on the paradoxical feelings of isolation that emerge from being constantly connected and draws on the latest neuro-scientific and behavioural research to tell stories about the transformational power of solitude which can make us happier, more productive and, ultimately, more human." —The Bookseller

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250088604
ISBN-10: 1250088607
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
Pages: 272
Language: English