Friday 31 July 2020

Pottering: A Cure For Modern Life (ARC Review)

This book was novel change of pace for me mostly because it was a non-fiction book but also because it falls into the category of "Health, Mind and Body" or "Self-Help" which I normally avoid.

The reason I opted to request a review copy is that I was curious. The concept of Pottering is a very British thing, imo, and it has a very specific meaning. To me, you are not pottering around your house at the weekend if you're spending it harrassed and running around, or playing computer games or mindlessly watching tv and movies. 
Pottering, to me, was about getting stuff done but almost absent-mindedly getting stuff done. 
It's soothing, calming... Peaceful. 
It's not about attacking an unending to-do list with single-minded purpose. 
It's not about large scale projects like re-painting a kitchen or laying a patio, it's slower and more subtle than that. 

Pottering: A Cure For Modern Life re-enforced my perception of what it means to potter but it also broadened my view and made me realise that aimlessly going for a walk and staring at the ducks on the river - just because - is also pottering. 
The book defines it as, "to occupy oneself in a pleasant way but without plan or purpose."

The first chapter explains the basics: Making do with what you've got, don't try too hard, movement, keeping it local and keeping it digital free.
While I'd never have categorised it in those terms myself they make perfect sense as do the examples and explanations the author gives for each point.
I found myself nodding away in agreement as it's pottering in a nutshell but so is the point that not all elements are of equal importance and the emphasis on each will vary person to person and task to task. 
The subsequent chapters explore each element in more detail. 

The book is easy to read, relatable, amusing and makes perfect sense. 

The take away points for me are that:
- Pottering is not a chore. 
Yes, you may be pottering doing household tasks but you're deriving some pleasure/satisfaction from it.
- What you want and what you need are very different things.
Improvise and compromise!
- Don't try too hard
Pottering is not about pressure, it's not supposed to be stressful, it's a productive calming activity.
- It's not all about household tasks!
You can potter around local shops. You can potter around a park. It's not all about the house.
- Everybody potters whether they call it that or not
- There is no one way to potter
- We could all do with more time away from digital devices and social media
- Pottering helps you think and mentally declutter
- Pottering around is not procrastination
- Pottering is good for the soul

Ultimately, pottering is about finding peace and joy in the little things. 
It's about switching off from the stresses of the world and being happy with what you've got, living in the moment, appreciating the little things. Many "self-help" techniques (like mindfulness) try to impart a similar principle but because of how they're presented they become a "thing" and just another something that you're "failing" to do or keep up with. 
Pottering... It's just a way of life. 
I find I'm happiest and more relaxed when I've spent a day pottering around the house so I guess my take away from reading this book is I need to switch off the electronics a little more often and just potter! I'd be happier and more content for doing so.

Ultimately, I recommend giving this book a read and seeing if adopting a pottering approach would be a positive thing for you. I don't see how it could fail to be a positive thing for anybody and I feel a little bit sad that with the pace of life nowadays we're losing the subtle art of it. 


PS - Sitting down for 10 minutes, drinking a cup of tea and reading a book in between tasks is a valid pottering action! 😉

PPS - The only truly weird suggestion I found was writing a cheque to pay for something just for funsies... Do retailers still accept cheques?! Banks in the UK aren't even issuing cheque books as standard anymore so I'm confused by this one. *shrug*

Pottering is written by Anna McGovern and illustrated by Charlotte Ager.
Publication Date: 26 Oct 2020
Review copy received via NetGalley.
Format: ebook


  1. I’ve just been made redundant but the company I used to work for sold jewellery and our main customers where 65 and over, they are the people still using cheques! We’d get loads of them in all the time, they love cheques!!

    This sounds a lovely book, I’ve been pottering about all week.

  2. In between big projects I'm always pottering about in some sense. I don't ever read self help books as they aren't my thing but I do know about pottering!

    1. I'm not a fan of them either but I was curious as to what this one had to say about pottering.

  3. I've never heard of pottering around the huse. That's a new one for me. Interesting though.

    1. I think the concept is a very British thing but the behaviour seems to be wide spread.

  4. I am definitely a potter(er?)! This is so interesting! Thanks for all your thoughts on this. I kind of want to read it now as well to learn more!

    1. I hope you get to read it at some point!


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