Irony sweet irony. The December 2023 Brio Book Club pick selected Saving Time is taking longer to read so we’ve rescheduled for the new year.
This dazzling, subversive, and deeply hopeful book by Jenny Odell offers us different ways to experience time—inspired by pre-industrial cultures, ecological cues, and geological timescales—that can bring within reach a more humane, responsive way of living. As planet-bound animals, we live inside shortening and lengthening days alongside gardens growing, birds migrating, and cliffs eroding; the stretchy quality of waiting and desire; the way the present may suddenly feel marbled with childhood memory; the slow but sure procession of a pregnancy; the time it takes to heal from injuries. Odell urges us to become stewards of these different rhythms of life in which time is not reducible to standardized units and instead forms the very medium of possibility.
Saving Time tugs at the seams of reality as we know it—the way we experience time itself—and rearranges it, imagining a world not centered on work, the office clock, or the profit motive. If we can “save” time by imagining a life, identity, and source of meaning outside these things, time might also save us.
And a little about the author:
Jenny Odell is an Oakland-based artist, writer, and educator. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, The Paris Review, The Believer, McSweeney's, and Sierra Magazine. Her visual work has been exhibited internationally, including as a mural on the side of a Google data center in rural Oklahoma. Odell has been an artist in residence at the Internet Archive, the San Francisco Planning Department, and Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump). She is a lecturer in the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University.