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Summary

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

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.

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 15 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.

©2020 Noreena Hertz (P)2020 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

Critic reviews

"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)

"Fascinating, timely and important...Read it, then pass it on to a friend. If you can find one." (Charlie Brooker)

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

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Shockingly good read.

So glad I came across this very carefully considered book. I couldn't put it down. I want everyone I know to read it. But they won't!

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Awesome Book

I really enjoyed this fascinating topic, It is really well researched and an eye opening book. I have been discussing some of the topics at work. I have started to see why the world is becoming more lonely. Thank you Noreena Hertz

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lonely century - Covid 19?

fantastic listen. well needed audible especially regarding covid 19 is still here and has accelerated our loneliness further.

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Well written but I disagree on some points

Simply saying it’s on the government to spend more is not the answer. Yes they need to shoulder some of the responsibilities but ultimately it’s down to the individual person. The person has to make the choice. It can’t be forced on them.

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Excellent description of loneliness and neoliberalism

Very extensive but not a minute boring description of how so many years of distancing created and maintained by the rules of neo liberalism. The author reinforces how important is the role of community, sharing, making contact with those who you don’t know, using less the screen and go back to real contact.
Next book could amplify the practical solutions and ways to deal with this very important issue. That’s the only item that could use some more attention in this book.

I’m so found of this book that I bought a poet edition in order to make there written notes and bought another one for my daughter of 27 years.

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Great book.

This book is full of interesting information and sometimes the facts are depressing. However it also has has so many positive suggestions as to how to combat loneliness in society based on real examples.

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Important book

I learnt so much from this important book.
This is a survey of the atomisation of our society. It comes out at a time when we have all been separated from friends, family and colleagues by a miniscule but deadly virus.
Noreena Hertz looks at how we have become a society that isolates, sickens and even destroys many of our fellow human beings be cause of loneliness.
This is not a negative book though, throughout she shows how there are amazing things going on all over our planet to combat loneliness and recreate the idea of a caring society.
I thought her last chapter on possible solutions in the post-pandemic world was inspirational.
I would highly recommend this book in any of its formats.