Alison Garwood Jones

Book Review: Good Burdens

December 9, 2021

Review of Good Burdens by Alison Garwood-JonesPhoto: Alison Garwood-Jones

A word to the wise: Santa was scrolling on his phone all morning and by 10 am he was spent. For a guy who laughs all the time — Ho, Ho, Ho — you’d think he, of all people, would be the one to understand the joy of missing out (#JOMO). 

But no. Even someone as giving and proactive as Santa — “On Dasher, on Dancer …” — can get sucked in by technology and lose his sense of purpose. It all felt so familiar. 

Detecting my own disenchantment with tech, a colleague sent me Christina Crook’s latest book, Good Burdens: How to Live Joyfully in the Digital Age. Christina’s a compelling writer on the topic of our digital wellbeing. She actually coined the term #JOMO that sparked a global self-awareness movement around what our reactive relationship to technology was doing to us (refer back to Santa). 

Good Burdens looks at what happens when tech takes us away from the kind of work that adds meaning back to our lives. One of my biggest challenges as writer and illustrator is figuring out how to use the internet to enhance and support my creativity without allowing it to suck me in and spit me back out empty-handed. 

Crook shows us how to establish daily commitments offline that change the way we show up in the world. It’s about being attentive to yourself, the things you care about, and how you spend your time.

Drawing of an interior by Alison Garwood-JonesHere’s an early morning drawing I recently made because I put my phone in a drawer. 

In the beginning, establishing new habits will make you feel like Odysseus tying himself to the mast of his ship to avoid the lure of the sirens. But before long, the sense of strength and wellbeing that comes with taking back your power will alter how you relate to technology. Still, resisting addictions takes work and vigilance. It’s a daily commitment to fighting the good fight. 

Crook’s timing is perfect. Her thoughts on realigning our energies, increasing our intentionality, and prioritizing our wellbeing coincide with the global push for a four-day work week and a brand new law here in Ontario that gives people the right to disconnect from work and email.  Her book would make a meaningful gift and the perfect guide to using our time wisely.


Disclosure: Karen McMullin at Nimbus sent me a copy of Good Burdens to read, but not necessarily review. But this is too good and important a book to keep to myself. 



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