How to Live on 24 Hours a Day (Arnold Bennett)

This may seem like an odd choice for me, but I'm trying to become more productive and I thought, “Why not look at some business books?” The reason became clear: because they are all nonsense, you can tell at a skim. So almost as a joke, I decided to read Bennett's 1910 book on time management, which is really a veiled treatise on the importance of reading itself, and on attentiveness in one's life.

It is hard to have one's watch stolen, but one reflects that the thief of the watch became a thief from causes of heredity and environment which are as interesting as they are scientifically comprehensible; and one buys another watch, if not with joy, at any rate with a philosophy that makes bitterness impossible. One loses, in the study of cause and effect, that absurd air which so many people have of being always shocked and pained by the curiousness of life. Such people live amid human nature as if human nature were a foreign country full of awful foreign customs. But, having reached maturity, one ought surely to be ashamed of being a stranger in a strange land!

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Jonathan Ball is a writer, filmmaker, and scholar living at www.jonathanball.com.

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