We discovered a 1949 book called How To Avoid Work when my girlfriend found a postcard reproduction of its dust cover for sale in the British Library gift shop. The book is out of print and usually costs a fortune but we were lucky enough to find a copy on Etsy for a tenner.
The book is terse, austere, and thanks to the passage of time, somewhat quaint. It’s basically a career guidance book with the central message that “work” can be avoided if we think carefully about the kind of job we really want. It’s a bit of a rip-off in that you’ll still have a career and a daily job if you follow this advice, but there’s wisdom in the notion that we don’t have to do work that contradicts our values or wastes our true talents.
Much of the book is too old-fashioned to still be applicable: there’s a funny chapter about ‘sponsorship’ – a method of landing a corporate job by means of informal schmoozing. There’s also an old-fashioned and hectoring lingo, and a strong assumption that the career-minded reader has external genitalia.
But there’s one interesting chapter called “Why don’t you do it?” which is ostensibly about New Escapologist‘s favourite subject: Bad Faith. It asks why so many people do things they don’t want to do (and fail to do the things they truly want to do). Here’s a little sample. You’ll probably agree that it still holds water.