How to Thrive in the Digital Age by Tom Chatfield (Macmillan)

How to Thrive in the Digital Age by Tom ChatfieldThis slim and rather beautiful volume (I’m a sucker for good-looking books) is part of a series from The School of Life, which is “a cultural enterprise offering good ideas for everyday life. [They] offer a variety of programmes and services concerned with how to live wisely and well.” I thought it might offer advice – the title seems to indicate as much – but it’s more like a series of musings on the nature of life today, and how everyone’s life (and the shape and functioning of society itself) is affected by the pervasiveness of technology. Chatfield pulls in research and ideas from influential and lesser-known thinkers and ties it all together into a neat little package which doesn’t tell you how to thrive, but (perhaps more usefully) tells you what you need to be aware of in order to determine your own survival strategy. I found myself alternating between ah, so that explains why I do that and yes, but how do I deal with that particular problem?, and I got to the end of the book with a peculiar feeling that I hadn’t really learned anything. I suspect that isn’t true, and I suspect I’m going to have to read it again to make some more sense out of it. It’s to Chatfield’s credit that I’m happy to do so – I can very rarely be bothered to re-read books.

Pippa Hennessy

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