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Best of 2022: Johann Hari on Reclaiming Our Minds

The bestselling author curates a reading list about the benefits of shifting our time and habits offline.

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The stories people save to Pocket reveal something unique—not only about what’s occupying our collective attention, but also about what we aspire to be. This year, our data showed a few key themes, including an urgent interest in resetting our relationships with technology. To explore and expand upon this topic, we enlisted Johann Hari, the New York Times bestselling author who kicked off 2022 with the release of his book Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention—And How to Think Deeply Again. —Pocket team

We are living through an enormous crisis in attention and focus. The average American office worker focuses on any one task for only three minutes. For every one child with serious attention problems in 1986, there are now 100 children. Why is this happening to us? I spent three years interviewing over 200 of the leading experts on this question—and I learned there’s scientific evidence pointing to several causes of this crisis.

If you’re struggling to focus, or your kid is—it’s not your fault. You’re not weak. This is happening because of deep social causes. My book is called Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention—And How to Think Deeply Again because your attention didn’t collapse—it’s been stolen from you. But once we understand why this is happening, we can start to get our brains back.

The most important thing to know is that we don’t have to live like this. We don’t have to tolerate our brains, and our kids’ brains, being invaded and degraded. We are not medieval peasants begging at the court of King Musk and King Zuckerberg for a few little crumbs of attention from their tables. We are the free citizens of democracies, and together, we can take our brains back. That’s what my book is all about, and what this reading list aims to explore. So turn off your phone’s notifications, close the rest of your tabs, and dive in. —Johann Hari

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Johann Hari

Johann Hari is the author of three New York Times best-selling books, and the Executive Producer of an Oscar-nominated movie and an eight-part TV series starring Samuel L. Jackson. His books have been translated into 38 languages, and been praised by a broad range of people, from Oprah to Noam Chomsky, from Elton John to Naomi Klein. His latest book, Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention, was published in January 2022, and received rave reviews everywhere from the Washington Post to the Irish Times to the Sydney Morning Herald. It has been a best-seller on three continents.