Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention—and How to Think Deeply Again

One thing was now very clear to me. If we continue to be a society of people who are severely under-slept and overworked; who switch tasks every three minutes; who are tracked and monitored by social-media sites designed to figure out our weaknesses and manipulate them to make us scroll and scroll and scroll; who are so stressed that we become hypervigilant; who eat diets that cause our energy to spike and crash; who are breathing in a chemical soup of brain-inflaming toxins every day—then, yes, we will continue to be a society with serious attention problems. But there is an alternative. It’s to organize and fight back—to take on the forces that are setting fire to our attention, and replace them with forces that will help us to heal.

Stolen Focus is an easy read (in the best of ways). It is one of those books with chapters of just the right length where you tell yourself “just one more.” The subject matter—what our self-made environment is doing to us and our attention—is downright horrifying and draws you in. It’s a great book to force self reflection to one’s own relationship with technology.

Towards the end, the book became a bit of a slog to me. While reading the final two chapters (centered around children) and the conclusion I found my reading pace slowing and ended up just having to skim since I didn’t care for that material as much. That certainly doesn’t diminish the rest of the book—especially since the book starts with the best parts.

I would recommend this book to almost anyone.

Book cover for Stolen Focus
Stolen Focus
Why You Can't Pay Attention—and How to Think Deeply Again
Johann Hari