The Idler’s Review


By: Mey Fung

Just over a year ago, Joshua Glenn and U of T’s own Mark Kingwell came out with The Idler’s Glossary. In the spirit of idling and procrastination, we decided to wait until now to release this review.

Kingwell’s introduction offers the idea that a lax way of living is superior to its stressful alternative, while Glenn compiles words and expressions associated with this lifestyle of free-time and leisure.

Such fanciful notions are what many of us wish were a reality in our work-filled lives. Hence, I read The Idler’s Glossary on the train en route to an appointment, while at the same time, idly noting down points of interest. Those wondering if it is a feasible read – the book is only 132 pages, and illustrations (by cartoonist, Seth) are dispersed throughout. I tested it to be a perfectly suitable length for a round-trip train ride within the city.

I sat down with one of the book’s authors, associate chair of U of T’s Philosophy Department, Professor Mark Kingwell, to get some insight on his playful philosophies. However, underneath his humour is a seriousness, in what he believes to be the truth: “Idling can be a normative away from work.” While Kingwell promotes the idea of shaking off the obligatory feel of a 9 to 5 by adopting an idle attitude, he also acknowledges that such a lifestyle is difficult to defend–especially since it isn’t (or rather, doesn’t seem to be) an option for many.

Kingwell believes that many of us could spend our time idling right down to the contemplative approach: thinking. It’s an ideal many of us would like to consider, while coping with a surge of papers and midterms, constantly dreaming about the idling-time we want. According to Kingwell, “Even work can be idling, when you love it from the inside.” If we look about it that way, idling just might be the solution to dealing with all those assignments.

Kingwell gave the newspaper the scoop: A sequel to The Idler’s Glossary, titled The Wage-Slave Glossary, is in the works, and planned for release Spring 2010.

This article was originally published on our old website at