Book Review

Book Review // New Slow City by William Powers

Slow Living & Minimalist Living in NYC
Written by Jennifer Nini

Slow is the new black. Or rather, Urban Slow is the new black.

A lifestyle trend that is increasingly being adopted across the globe, slow living is no longer the exclusive domain of country folk, the Amish community or the humble snail.

In a world driven by the 3 Cs - competition, consumption, cash - people are increasingly finding an answer to the problems of capitalism in living slow. Even people residing in some of our fastest cities.

William Powers is one such person.

Powers is the author of Twelve by Twelve a memoir about his time living in an off-grid cabin in North Carolina. When some readers pointed out that minimalist living is easy in a remote cabin but near impossible in the city, Powers set out to find the truth. So he decided to pursue a “Slow Year” in the epicentre of all things fast and dominated by the 3 Cs: Manhattan.

THE IDEA FOR NEW SLOW CITY IS BORN

Serious about downshifting to slow gear, he and his wife Melissa move out of their Queens townhouse, get rid of 80 percent of their belongings and relocate to a 350 square-foot “micro apartment” in Greenwich Village. Exploring slow in all aspects of his life including work, Powers even limits his working week to just two days. “Before slowing down, I lived in a time-scarcity mentality, scheduling my life as tightly as possible and sometimes stressing about whether I was maximising the utility of each meeting or social engagement” he writes. When I read about his two-day work week in New Slow City, I thought, I moved away from the city, live off-the-grid and even I couldn’t live this slow!

could you live slow in NYC?

Throughout the book, Powers offers his ‘slow’ musings on a range of topics including food, spirituality, money, technology, transport, urban sanctuaries and yes even family life as he prepares to become a father (“the thought of inhabiting the box ‘parent consumer’ makes me squeamish”). His story is refreshing to read and reminds me of my own as I too returned to the city (my hometown of Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia) after a two year hiatus in an off-grid shed in rural Queensland (I lasted two years, I’m now back in the country).

MY ONLY GRIPE

His journey is told at a measured pace, and while a little frustrating, I realise that this may actually be intentional. After all, we’re manipulated to always being on the edge of our seats, to want to know what happens next, to go fast, a slow living book that is purposefully slow is indeed quite clever. Still, it’s frustrating. I may have moved to our farm and live green, but I still haven’t gotten used to living slow. Even when reading a book about living slow!

In summary, I enjoyed reading New Slow City and found myself nodding in agreement with many of Powers’ intelligent observations and was particularly amused by his “smart-filtering” techniques to block out the city’s commercial content (I actively fight advertising messages myself) and the “stealth advertising” episode in which he attempts to call out the actors on a train only to have it backfire on him.

Above all, this book serves as a wonderful reminder that while going fast seems to be hardwired into us, it is actually something we’ve learned. We can in fact unlearn it. If we consciously make the effort to be mindful of our surroundings, purposeful in our actions and truly connected with one another, we can override this need for speed. Because this is essentially what living slow is all about. Moving from autopilot to being really and fully present.

You can purchase the book here.

Disclosure: Eco Warrior Princess received a digital copy of New Slow City for the purposes of this book review. This post also contains affiliate links so should you make a purchase, we may make a small commission which helps us to run this super blog and pay our team fair wages. We are committed to high standards of integrity which you can learn more about here.

Enjoyed this post & want to show your gratitude? Then please support Eco Warrior Princess on Patreon!

About the author

Jennifer Nini

Jennifer Nini is a writer, activist and the founding editor of Eco Warrior Princess. In 2010, after studying Fashion Business, she began this blog to explore her interests in fashion, politics, social justice and sustainability. Jennifer is also the founder of The Social Copywriter, a digital agency harnessing the power of copywriting and content marketing to help mindful businesses reach more people. When she's not perfecting a sentence or coaching business clients, you will find her at her permaculture farm reconnecting with nature.

4 Comments

  • Great review. I enjoyed the meandering pace. As you pointed out, I think that was the point. Admittedly though I didn’t notice that the pace of the book was slow until you pointed it out!

    • Thanks Summer. I noticed that I tend to lean towards books that are ‘fast’ in pace and have good ‘hooks’. A lifetime of reading John Grisham, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Jodi Piccoult and Patricia Cornwell will do that to you haha!

  • Sounds like an interesting read. As a fellow NYC dweller, I agree that “living slow” is not necessarily about where you live (rural vs urban) but more about your mindset. Being a conscious consumer is just as feasible in a city setting as it is in more off-the-grid or rural settings. I’ll be adding this do my to-read list!

    • Wonderful Nichole, please let me know what you think. I’d love your take on it because having lived both, I still find it much more challenging living slow in the city. The last time I moved back to my home city, I lived in a tiny apartment near the Botanical Gardens so I could at least walk past them on my 30min walk to work (and from work). Despite some positives like going to the Saturday markets to buy my organic veggies, preparing more home made meals and walking everywhere, I still tended to get caught up in doing too much, goal-setting too much, eating out too much. I also worked very long hours (to be honest I still do) and found myself getting more irritated in traffic and on public transport. Not to mention I found myself drinking an unhealthy amount of coffee LOL. We still have our 3-bedroom unit there but I much prefer to live on our farm 🙂

Leave a Comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

/* ]]> */
Don't forget to follow Eco Warrior Princess on social media!