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Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day

by Craig Lambert

Book Reviews

"Without any debate or conscious choice, during the last couple of decades technology has radically changed the premises and nature of everyday life and work. We may know this, more or less, but reading Shadow Work still triggers multiple "D'oh!" moments. Craig Lambert lucidly, thoughtfully, and provocatively connects the dots of this profound, pervasive, and unfinished social and economic transformation."
-- Kurt Andersen, author of True Believers and host, Studio 360

"Craig Lambert combines his gifts as sociologist and detective to solve that perennial mystery: where has all our time gone? In Shadow Work he reveals how we unwittingly perform labors that companies used to do, but have offloaded onto us. Reading Shadow Work will be full of A-ha! moments for readers. It's delightful, surprising, witty, and smart."
-- Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

"Shadow work is all the things we do -- from assembling our own furniture to booking our own travel -- that has become the new normal. And like everything that becomes the new normal, it is invisible. Lambert's ambition is substantial: to make that invisible visible. His hope is that once we see where we are, we can make some choices about where we want to go. A deft writer; a compelling case."
-- Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology, MIT, and the author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

"Increasingly, time is our scarcest resource. Craig Lambert's important book will change how you think about your days. Shadow work is a new and vitally important concept for understanding the new economy. Lambert's arguments need to be carefully considered by all who ponder our economic future."
-- Lawrence H. Summers, Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Professor and President Emeritus, Harvard University

"Where have all the sales clerks/bank tellers/travel agents gone? Long time passing, along with the secretaries, waitstaff, ticket agents, and so many more. Those jobs still exist, but now you, the so-called customer, are doing them -- without pay, of course, and on your own time. As Craig Lambert shows in this mordant, mischievous book, our no-service gig economy gives new meaning to the phrase "free market."
-- Hendrik Hertzberg, Staff writer, The New Yorker

"I've been enjoying Craig Lambert's work for decades in Harvard Magazine. He can make any topic clear, readable, and fascinating. And here he's got a great story: the excess "shadow work" we've all taken on in the modern age. From the first page, he'll have you looking at your life, and the world, in a whole new way."
-- Mike Reiss, Emmy-winning writer, The Simpsons

"Think you know how you spend your days? Think again. Shadow Work is a visionary book that will change the way you look at -- well, just about everything."
-- Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

"This book will revolutionize the way you look at how you spend your time -- doing countless hours of unpaid work for The Man. Like Malcolm Gladwell, Craig Lambert brilliantly reveals the hidden currents of contemporary life."
-- Daniel Klein, co-author, Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

"With precision, wit, and erudition, Craig Lambert identifies the invisible drains on our leisure time -- and on our mental and emotional freedoms. None of us signed up for all of this pro bono overtime for corporations. How can we quit? This book shows the problem's economic and social causes -- and even better, suggests an escape route."
-- Virginia Heffernan, author, Magic and Loss: The Pleasures of the Internet

"Who knows what larceny lurks in the heart of our economy? Lambert knows."
-- Roy Blount Jr., author of Alphabet Juice

"Do we work to live or live to work? Do we accumulate wealth to achieve a meaningful life, or is life made meaningful in the crass accumulation of wealth? Is time money, or is it life? These are some of the deeper issues probed in this deceptively modest but ultimately profound work. A skillful, wide-ranging exploration of the changing nature of work, the erosion of leisure, and the excessive commodification of time in modern society, rendered in an accessible, wryly elegant style that engages on every page."
-- Orlando Patterson, John Cowles Professor of Sociology, Harvard University and Winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction for Freedom in the Making of Western Culture

"Shadow Work is a game changer. Craig Lambert opens our eyes to how we are enticed and then burdened into doing work that years ago was done by others -- work that isolates us from community. He allows us to appreciate why children can no longer play because soccer Moms have taken over the sandlots. Adults enjoy leisure on paper and believe they have organized the perfect life. Only Lambert again and again provides fresh detail to show that we aren't living it. This book will be a favorite of book clubs as the new generation tries to recover what the past generation has just lost -- their free time!"
-- George E. Vaillant, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and author of Triumphs of Experience

"Even though you may be busy with shadow work, make time to read this book! Craig Lambert helps to raise our levels of awareness of how, without noticing it, we have become slaves to countless tasks and chores. Shadow Work can help us leave this modern form of slavery behind so that we can begin to live more deliberately, fully, freely."
--Tal Ben-Shahar, author of Happier

"Shadow Work is an eye-opening expose of the countless subtle ways in which corporations and other large organizations are conscripting all of us to donate our invaluable time and labor to advance their economic and other goals, without our consent and often even without our awareness. By bringing this serious problem out of the shadows, this important book makes an essential contribution toward countering it."
-- Nadine Strossen, John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law, New York Law School and former President of the ACLU

"An insightful and original book that lit up areas of daily life I'd never looked at before. Lambert does a brilliant service by explaining where our vanished, old-fashioned free time went, and why."
-- Ian Frazier, author of Travels in Siberia