Doing Less

More, please? Or, no more, please? In The Fast: The History, Science, Philosophy, and Promise of Doing Without (Avid Reader Press, 2024), John Oakes recounts his personal experience conducting a weeklong fast and examines the practice’s history and place within a wide range of religions and philosophies. The book also explores the act of self-deprivation and the potential transformative benefits of subtracting rather than adding to one’s life. “The act of fasting…won’t stop routine, but impedes it for a bit, signifying a shift and a determined unwillingness to follow standard operating procedure,” writes Oakes. Use this idea to consider your personal relationship with consumption—of food, conversation, media, clothes, space—and write a personal essay that reflects on what you might otherwise take for granted.