How to be Free, Paperback
3 out of 5 (4 ratings)


How to be Free is Tom Hodgkinson's manifesto for a liberated life.

Modern life is absurd. How can we be free? If you've ever wondered why you bother to go to work, or why so much consumer culture is crap, then this book is for you.

Looking to history, literature and philosophy for inspiration, Tom Hodgkinson provides a joyful blueprint for a simpler and freer way of life.

Filled with practical tips as well as inspiring reflections, here you can learn how to throw off the shackles of anxiety, bureaucracy, debt, governments, housework, supermarkets, waste and much else besides.

Are you ready to be free? Read this book and find out. "One of the most provocatively entertaining, creatively subversive and, frankly, essential manifestoes of this or any moment". (Time Out). "Crammed with laugh-out-loud jokes and witty put-downs ...acts as a survival guide for everything from the government to housework.

Random in its details, essential in its advice". (Knave). "As a follow-up to his charming How to be Idle, Tom Hodgkinson offers nothing less than a manifesto of resistance to the modern world". (Guardian). Tom Hodgkinson is the founder and editor of The Idler and the author of How to be Idle, How to be Free, The Idle Parent and Brave Old World.

In spring 2011 he founded The Idler Academy in London, a bookshop, coffeehouse and cultural centre which hosts literary events and offers courses in academic and practical subjects - from Latin to embroidery.

Its motto is 'Liberty through Education'.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352 pages, B/W line drawings throughout
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Popular psychology
  • ISBN: 9780141022024



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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

An eye-opening read when travelling to work. More fellow traveller should read it instead of bleating into their mobile phones. The author 's assumptions are well supported with qoutations from historic sources.

Review by

I agree with 90% of Hodgkinson's book, and was kind of pleased to find that I live my live in line with 75% of it. It's really just some well-worn situationist, anarchist and green ideas, warmed up and made palatable for Observer readers. It's another of those books that outstays its welcome: after you've read two thirds of it, you can predict exactly where each chapter is heading just from its title.

Review by

Occassionally I read the reviews by other people, and I wonder if they've read the same book as me!Tom Hodgkinson's book seems to me not to be a self help guide. It doesn't provide a programme to follow to be free, but it argues, occassionally eloquently, that it is possible for everyone to loosen their 'Mind Forged Manacles'. Much of his method for doing this revolves around taking control and responsibility for or and for your own life. If you hate your job then change it. If you have a nagging feeling that you're working to maintain a lifestyle in order to keep up with the Joneses, or to maintain a crippling mortgage then look at the alternatives.It felt to me more like a companion peace to the Chumbawamba and Crass albums that I've been listening to all these years. An easy introduction to the theory behind the calls for anarchy. Some of his arguments are of course flawed. At least, assuming that you're reading this post on a computer, then the call to take back understanding in technology so that you're not behest to 'the man' is optimistic at best. Like many others, I'm happy to buy the bits to build a computer, but I couldn't tell you how to make the chips themselves, (beyond a hand waving explanation) never mind actually designing the chips. We live in a world where the ability to purchase technology which is way beyond our individual understanding is part of modern life. I guess the question is whether you buy in to the rat race, or take a more moderate approach.It didn't provide any life changing suggestions to me. I think I fell out with the concept of consumerism a long time ago. My current PC is new, but the previous one was only replaced when it died on me after more than 6 years. My iPod is one that I bought second hand on eBay cos they were being sold off cheap by loads of people who had rushed out to buy an iPhone as soon as they became available (better for me, I chose to run Rockbox on it anyway...), but some of the ideas have given me food for thought, and as we embark on another years vegetable growing (something that we were doing before I read this book) it has given me a renewed enthusiasm for the joys of cultivation.

Review by

Mostly enjoyed the encouraging and questioning tone of the book.</p><p>It's big success for me is to tie strands together so that the connection between capatalism, society and the individual can be seen from a new perspective.</p><p>The idea that one can find a better way to live a more contented and self sufficient life by questioning received ideas about lots of aspects of life.</p><p>One small thing that grates is that the notion that life was always better in the past - I've a feeling that people have been saying that for hundreds of years, but I suppose it's better than postponing living for the sake of some better future.</p><p>All in all if I had to explain the book to someone, I'd summarize by saying that you need to take responsibility for as much of your own happiness as possible and find the strength to go your own way.

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