The Lonely Century

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What to expect

‘Indispensable, engaging and brilliant book about the pervasiveness of loneliness in the twenty-first century and its far-reaching impact…a hopeful book that couldn’t be more important or timely.’ Philippa Perry, author of The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read

Even before a global pandemic introduced us to terms like social distancing, loneliness was already becoming the defining condition of the twenty-first century.

‘Fascinating, timely and important…Read it, then pass it on to a friend. If you can find one.’ Charlie Brooker

Carl, the Los Angeles media executive so lonely he pays to be cuddled. Eric, the Parisian baker finding community in the political far right. Peter, the London schoolboy distraught because no one ‘likes’ his Instagram posts.

All around us, the fabric of community is unravelling and our personal relationships are under threat. And technology isn’t the sole culprit; equally to blame are the dismantling of civic institutions, the radical reorganisation of the workplace, mass migration to cities, and decades of neoliberal policies that placed self-interest above the collective good.

‘Passionately argued and deeply researched, this book is for everyone who wants to build a healthier and more connected world.’ Arianna Huffington

This is not merely a mental health crisis. Loneliness increases our risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia. Statistically, it’s as bad for our health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. It’s also an economic crisis, costing us billions annually, and a political crisis, with feelings of marginalisation fuelling divisiveness and extremism around the world.

But it’s also one we have the power to reverse. Combining a decade of research with first-hand reporting, Noreena Hertz takes us from a ‘how to communicate in real life’ class at an Ivy League university to encounters in German beer gardens between people with radically different political views, from ‘renting a friend’ in Manhattan to nursing home residents knitting bonnets for their robot caregivers in Japan.

Offering bold solutions ranging from compassionate AI to innovative models for urban living to new ways of reinvigorating our neighbourhoods and reconciling our differences, The Lonely Century offers a hopeful and empowering vision for how to heal our fractured communities and restore connection in our lives.

(P) 2020 Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

Critics Review

  • This book is a crucial call to arms: in the wake of the pandemic, Hertz argues, governments have an opportunity to rebuild along better lines . . . If we could issue a reading list to 10 Downing Street, I’d put this book near the top.

    Guardian
  • Explosive stuff. Timely . . . urgent.

    Daily Telegraph
  • Causing a deserved stir

    Financial Times
  • An important new book

    Economist
  • For an uplifting and educational read, The Lonely Century is about how we can overcome our divisions to rebuild a society that works as one

    Stylist
  • Hertz’s timely study of modern loneliness shows how social media isolates us, our work atomises us, and even street furniture prevents us gathering. The economist delivers an eloquent call to arms: only connect.

    Telegraph

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