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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents Stolen Focus by Johann Hari, read by Johann Hari.

Why have we lost our ability to focus? What are the causes? And, most importantly, how do we get it back?

For Stolen Focus, internationally best-selling author Johann Hari went on a three-year journey to uncover the reasons why our teenagers now focus on one task for only 65 seconds, and why office workers on average manage only three minutes. He interviewed the leading experts in the world on attention and learned that everything we think about this subject is wrong. 

We think our inability to focus is a personal failing - a flaw in each one of us. It is not. This has been done to all of us by powerful external forces. Our focus has been stolen. Johann discovered there are 12 deep cases of this crisis, all of which have robbed some of our attention. He shows us how in a thrilling journey that ranges from Silicon Valley dissidents, to a favela in Rio where attention vanished, to an office in New Zealand that found a remarkable way to restore our attention.

Crucially, he learned how - as individuals and as a society - we can get our focus back, if we are determined to fight for it.

©2022 Johann Hari (P)2022 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"Johann Hari writes like a dream. He’s both lyricist and storyteller - but also an indefatigable investigator of one of the world’s greatest problems: the systematic destruction of our attention. Read this book to save your mind." (Susan Cain)

"A really important book.... Everyone should read it."  (Philippa Perry)

"A beautifully researched and argued exploration of the breakdown of humankind's ability to pay attention." (Stephen Fry)

What listeners say about Stolen Focus

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Must Read!

Incredibly important topic. A crash course in why living a life of intention rather than screen mediated attention is so meaniful yet to difficult.

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Essential reading for the modern human

Overall a pleasant read about a topic which concerns us all. If anything it will give readers reason to rethink their addiction to social media devices.

Unfortunately the author has a leftist skew which comes across as out of touch with the current sentiments towards the left’s misuse of social media.

A more balanced political approach would result in a better body of work.

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Thought provoking

As a mother I found the free play and education stuff terrifying. I feel I've robbed my kids of a childhood, but I'm still too fearful to let them out alone. A few sleepless nights coming my way as I meditate on what good parenting looks like in today's society! I've also got a lot to think about in relation to my career as a teacher. A tough but necessary read.

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Stolen focus

This book is a must read for everyone. It is informing and empowering.
Knowledge is power for change. So important!

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an excellent book that I cannot rate highly

This book is thoroughly researched and the first half Is gorgeous

the second half going into adhd is massively disappointing.

there is not one interview with any single adhd person, no mention of neurodiversity at all, all the cliches of disability writing from the perspectives of the non disabled lamenting how hard it is to live near the disabled over the the actual human lives of the disabled themselves

if the author wishes to learn from those he seems determined to avoid, reach out to the Neurodivergent near him. or hell, while I'm suggesting ostentatiously (which never works) reach out to me Johann and I'll tell you about living as an ADHD man

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  • The G Man
  • 08-01-2022

Bravo 👏 👏

Bravo to Johann Hari for this absolute masterpiece! I have listened to many audio books on this subject, most will point you in the direction of mindfulness meditation, which is not a bad thing, but in this book Johann tries to get to the root cause of our inability to focus, the way that external forces influence our behaviour, from tech giants to the food we eat, and everything in between.
I don't know if i will listen again, this book was so well written and so well read by the Author, every sentence relevant and memorable.

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  • the typist
  • 17-01-2022

No substance and not much style

I truly wanted to like this, I’ve been reading books related to similar subjects and have found them fascinating. Unfortunately, this is way too anecdotal, and the anecdotes feel forced and - at times - entirety made up. But whereas the likes of Glennon Doyle can get away with a suspiciously well-timed and engrossing happening, Hari’s personal tales are so on the nose they read like they should come with a ‘insert relevant thematic story here’ disclaimer. As for the journey he is trying to thread through the book, it’s not only an affront to climate change – travelling halfway around the world to find peace and quiet. Really? It’s also completely unrealistic for anyone who has a regular job, children or a functioning relationship. Do yourself a favour and return the book, then download Oliver Burkemas ‘Four Thousand Weeks’. It covers the same topic and far more, it’s also incredibly well researched and well written and without the solipsistic overtones.

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  • Michael
  • 11-01-2022

This is good

It's like somebody shining a light of clarity through the dark fog of misinformation and manipulation that is, no so gradually, engulfing us all. I'm not sure that it will be enough to save us, but at least it gives us a glimpse of what we are up against!

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  • Dimiti D
  • 09-01-2022

Masterpiece

This book is lifechanging. I've been struggling with fragmented attention for some years now and read and listened to what I could on the matter. This book is a masterclass on the subjest. I loved Hari's last book "Lost Connections" so when I got a Kindle notification (yes that was a distraction but a welcome one in this case) that he'd just released this one I immediately bought it along with the Audible narration. This, in my view, is a must read/listen for anyone living in the digital age.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Vanessa Higgins
  • 10-01-2022

One of the most important books of this time!

I have been suspecting something has been very wrong and this book has confirmed it all and given me real support in rectifying the problem and reclaiming my own mind! Thank you Johann for bringing this into our awareness and offering real solutions.
The reflections you have given on how change has been made in the past has given me so much hope that we can change the current systems and we can create a better world for ourselves.
May this book reach far and wide!

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  • JPC
  • 09-01-2022

Time well spent

This is such a well-crafted book about a subject which impacts all of our lives. It’s accessible enough but also credible and mature. He comes up with some lovely figurative turns of phrase and reframes ideas with compassion and humour. It’s a blend of personal experience and thorough, painstaking research - Hari has more than blown away any former clouds about the authenticity of his sources and is reliable and likeable.

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  • serginhowardinho
  • 19-01-2022

Lacks Focus

This feels like Hari has read over social science book of the last twenty years, paid attention to every major news story in that same time span, struggled to find a way of knitting them together and then gone, "balls to it, I'll just write about focus."

It times its incoherent and unfocused, at other times far too anecdotal. There are flashes of insight and occasionally it's thought provoking, but by and large this is a dull book. The narration is pretty poor too.

I enjoyed Lost Connections immensely, but Hari's shtick has worn very thin. If I ever hear one more barely believable fabricated anecdote or one more example of him visiting an 'expert' followed by a paragraph which begins "he told me" I'll end up hurting someone nearby.

Even if you're a fan usually, avoid this.

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  • Jamie Clifford
  • 11-01-2022

Definitely listen to the audiobook

Johan is such a good story teller, I love listening to every word that comes from his mouth and this book did not disappoint. This book is highly recommended to learn what’s going wrong with our focus

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  • mike291
  • 10-01-2022

Excellent

Thank you for writing this book Johann. Essential reading for all within society. 5 stars

1 person found this helpful

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  • Graeme Clark
  • 25-01-2022

An Awakening

This is not a self help book, it is more of an awakening.
The author does not give you direct answers on how to improve you focus, it is more about planting the seed for you to determine your own actions.
An absolutely amazing listen and it has educated me massively on what is potentially effecting my focus and how, as a society we need to put pressure on those who are effectively controlling it.
Having listened to the book I feel more enlightening as to how to take back control.

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