The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction
Author: Jenifer Cohen
Published: March 2015
Length: 320 pages
Formats: Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback, Audible
Available on Amazon

From the publisher:

In his bestselling book Shop Class as Soulcraft, Matthew B. Crawford explored the ethical and practical importance of manual competence, as expressed through mastery of our physical environment. In his brilliant follow-up, The World Beyond Your Head, Crawford investigates the challenge of mastering one’s own mind.

We often complain about our fractured mental lives and feel beset by outside forces that destroy our focus and disrupt our peace of mind. Any defense against this, Crawford argues, requires that we reckon with the way attention sculpts the self.
Crawford investigates the intense focus of ice hockey players and short-order chefs, the quasi-autistic behavior of gambling addicts, the familiar hassles of daily life, and the deep, slow craft of building pipe organs.

He shows that our current crisis of attention is only superficially the result of digital technology, and becomes more comprehensible when understood as the coming to fruition of certain assumptions at the root of Western culture that are profoundly at odds with human nature.

The World Beyond Your Head makes sense of an astonishing array of common experience, from the frustrations of airport security to the rise of the hipster. With implications for the way we raise our children, the design of public spaces, and democracy itself, this is a book of urgent relevance to contemporary life.About the authors:

About the Author:

Matthew B. Crawford is a philosopher and mechanic. Currently a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, he owns and operates Shockoe Moto, an independent motorcycle repair shop in Richmond, Virginia.


“Crawford is deeply interested in how one masters one’s own mind, especially in a time of information overload and constant distraction provided by technology. In a manner similar to Malcolm Gladwell, this brilliant work looks at individuals from varied walks of life, including hockey players and short-order cooks, to focus on the theme of how important (and difficult) it is to truly pay attention in our noisy world . . . rich in excellent research, argument, and prose.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Crawford’s diagnosis of our scatterbrained ennui [is] on target, and [The World Beyond Your Head] is peppered with startling insights. One comes when he contrasts Mickey Mouse cartoons of decades past, in which contraptions invariably break down or assault their owners, to the contemporary universe of ‘Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,’ where gadgets are error-free servants and faithful friends. It’s the kind of technological utopianism that primes a young mind to buy whatever Silicon Valley is selling.” ―John Keilman, The Chicago Tribune


The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction is available on Amazon.