Book Review: ‘Do Something,’ By Guy Trebay


In his latest book, “Do Something,” Guy Trebay presents a scathing critique of modern society’s obsession with busyness and productivity. Trebay, a veteran journalist and cultural critic, argues that our relentless pursuit of activity has led to a culture of exhaustion, anxiety, and disconnection. Through a series of essays that are both deeply personal and broadly relatable, Trebay makes a compelling case for the importance of slowing down, reevaluating our priorities, and learning to do nothing.

Trebay’s central argument is that our society has become addicted to the idea of constant activity, convinced that every moment must be filled with purpose and productivity. We are encouraged to be always-on, always-connected, and always-achieving, lest we fall behind or be left behind. But this relentless drive for busyness has come at a steep cost, Trebay argues. We are exhausted, anxious, and disconnected from ourselves, each other, and the world around us.

Through a series of vignettes and essays, Trebay explores the ways in which this culture of busyness has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. He writes about the cult of wellness, which promises us that we can optimize our bodies and minds through endless self-improvement and self-care. He critiques the fetishization of entrepreneurship, which encourages us to turn every hobby and interest into a side hustle or business venture. And he laments the loss of leisure time, which has been sacrificed on the altar of productivity and efficiency.

But “Do Something” is not just a critique of modern society; it is also a deeply personal exploration of the author’s own struggles with busyness and burnout. Trebay writes candidly about his own experiences with anxiety and depression, and the ways in which he has learned to prioritize rest, relaxation, and contemplation. Through his own story, Trebay shows that it is possible to break free from the cycle of busyness and find a more sustainable, more fulfilling way of living.

One of the strengths of “Do Something” is its accessibility and relatability. Trebay’s writing is engaging, witty, and free of jargon, making the book an easy read for anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed by the demands of modern life. At the same time, the book is also deeply researched and informed by a wide range of cultural, philosophical, and psychological perspectives.

If there is a weakness to “Do Something,” it is that Trebay’s critique of modern society can sometimes feel overly broad and sweeping. At times, it can be difficult to distinguish between the specific targets of his critique – the wellness industry, social media, the cult of entrepreneurship – and the broader cultural trends that underlie them. Additionally, some readers may find themselves wishing for more concrete solutions and strategies for breaking free from the cycle of busyness.

Overall, however, “Do Something” is a timely and important book that challenges us to rethink our values and priorities. In an age of endless activity and distraction, Trebay’s call to slow down, reflect, and do nothing is a breath of fresh air. As he writes, “The most radical thing we can do is nothing. The most revolutionary thing we can do is rest.” “Do Something” is a powerful reminder that sometimes, the most important thing we can do is simply to be.


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