The Shallows


“This is a book to shake up the world.” —Ann Patchett

“Essential reading about our Internet Age.” —New York Times Book Review

“A book everyone should read.” —American Scientist

“I have not only given this book to numerous friends, I actually changed my life in response to it.” —Jonathan Safran Foer

Is Google making us stupid? When Nicholas Carr posed that question in a celebrated Atlantic essay, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the internet’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply? 

With The Shallows, a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction and a New York Times bestseller, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the net’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. The Shallows is, writes Slate, “a Silent Spring for the literary mind.”

An expanded, tenth-anniversary edition of The Shallows was published in 2020. It includes an extensive new afterword that examines how smartphones and social media are influencing our thoughts and emotions.

Barnes & Noble


“Editors’ choice.” –New York Times Book Review

“One of the most prescient books of the digital age.” –Ezra Klein

“Carr is a great writer … This is a must-read for any desk jockey concerned about the Web’s deleterious effects on the mind. Grade: A.” –Newsweek

“Absorbing [and] disturbing. We all joke about how the Internet is turning us, and especially our kids, into fast-twitch airheads incapable of profound cogitation. It’s no joke, Mr. Carr insists, and he has me persuaded.” –John Horgan, Wall Street Journal

“Nicholas Carr has written a deep book about shallow thinking.” –Daniel J. Flynn, The American Spectator

The Shallows is a modern classic of internet criticism.” –Leo Mirani, Quartz

“This is a lovely story well told — an ode to a quieter, less frenetic time when reading was more than skimming and thought was more than mere recitation.” –San Francisco Chronicle

“We are living through something of a backlash against the frenzy of attention dispersion, a backlash for which Carr’s book will become canonical.” –Todd Gitlin, The New Republic

“An essential, accessible dispatch about how we think now.” –Laura Miller, Salon

“Carr’s fresh, lucid, and engaging assessment of our infatuation with the Web is provocative and revelatory.” –Booklist

“If you care about your own ability to think and read deeply, please treat yourself to Carr’s book.” –Carol Keeley, Ploughshares

“Carr is not a proselytizer, and he is no techno-troglodyte. He is a profoundly sharp thinker and writer — equal parts journalist, psychologist, popular science writer, and philosopher. I have not only given this book to numerous friends, I actually changed my life in response to it.” –Jonathan Safran Foer

“Explosive.” –Irish Independent

“Carr [is] a Paul Revere for our Net age.” –USA Today

The Shallows is a book everyone should read.” –Anna Lena Phillips, American Scientist

“A persuasive and interesting work.” –Emily St. John Mandel, The Millions

“Carr’s scope in this unceasingly interesting book is wider than just the  synapse and the transistor.” –Sam Leith, The Sunday Times (London)

“Required reading for anyone who wants a cogent, comprehensive, and thoroughly researched statement of the techno-fears that, in however inchoate a way, many of us have harbored for going on a few decades now.” –Daniel Menaker, Barnes & Noble Review

“Carr provides a deep, enlightening examination of how the Internet influences the brain and its neural pathways … His fantastic investigation of the effect of the Internet on our neurological selves concludes with a very humanistic petition for balancing our human and computer interactions … Highly recommended.” [starred review] –Library Journal

“Carr’s book is essential. It lays out a sweeping portrait of the thing we’re moving too quickly to see … [It] bursts with research — from neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists and sociologists — and careful analysis. And anxious as Carr might be about what the Internet is doing to our brains, his writing isn’t shrill or self-righteous. It’s intelligent, deeply researched, articulate and, much to my dismay, most likely prophetic.” –Kurt Armstrong, Paste

“The core of education is this: developing the capacity to concentrate. The fruits of this capacity we call civilization. But all that is finished, perhaps. Welcome to the shallows, where the un-educating of homo sapiens begins. Nicholas Carr does a wonderful job synthesizing the recent cognitive research. In doing so, he gently refutes the ideologists of progress, and shows what is really at stake in the daily habits of our wired lives: the re-constitution of our minds. What emerges for the reader, inexorably, is the suspicion that we have well and truly screwed ourselves.” –Matthew B. Crawford, author of Shop Class As Soulcraft and The World Beyond Your Head

“The subtitle of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains leads one to expect a polemic in the tradition of those published in the 1950s about how rock ’n’ roll was corrupting the nation’s youth … But this is no such book. It is a patient and rewarding popularisation of some of the research being done at the frontiers of brain science … Mild-mannered, never polemical, with nothing of the Luddite about him, Carr makes his points with a lot of apt citations and wide-ranging erudition.” –Christopher Caldwell, Financial Times

“Carr’s prescription is not to shove a sandal into the servers that are eroding our brains. Instead, he wants us to take a page from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s notebooks — the one in which Hawthorne wrote about the way a morning reverie in a spot in Concord known to locals as Sleepy Hollow was shattered when the ‘startling shriek’ of a locomotive brought ‘the noisy world into the midst of our slumbrous peace.’ The shrieking railroad has given way to the constant hum and buzz of the information highway, ubiquitous to the point of invisibility. If we want to preserve the health of our brains, we will carve out a ‘peaceful spot where contemplativeness can work its restorative magic.’ … The medium may be the message, Carr suggests, but only so long as the medium stays hidden. Reveal its inner workings — and the groupthink or brain damage it can cause — and we will see the necessity of resisting. We will be empowered to turn Google to our purposes rather than being turned to Google’s.” –Gary Greenberg, The Nation

“Measured but alarming … Carr brilliantly brings together numerous studies and experiments to support this astounding argument: ‘With the exception of alphabets and number systems, the Net may well be the single most powerful mind-altering technology that has ever come into general use.” –Will Buchanan, Christian Science Monitor

“Nicholas Carr has written an important and timely book. See if you can stay off the web long enough to read it!” –Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe and The Sixth Extinction

“Nicholas Carr carefully examines the most important topic in contemporary culture—the mental and social transformation created by our new electronic environment. Without ever losing sight of the larger questions at stake, he calmly demolishes the clichés that have dominated discussions about the Internet. Witty, ambitious, and immensely readable, The Shallows actually manages to describe the weird, new, artificial world in which we now live.”
–Dana Gioia, poet and former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

“Using the web, as I guess most of us do, can be bad for you, says this erudite author; indeed it can actually affect the brain, leaving us more ignorant than we were before, which is the opposite of what it was supposed to achieve. An alarming book.” –Nicholas Bagnall, The Telegraph

“You really should read Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows … Far from offering a series of rants on the dangers of new media, Carr spends chapters walking us through a variety of historical experiments and laymen’s explanations on the workings of the brain . . . He makes the research stand on end, punctuating it with pithy conclusions and clever phrasing.” –Fritz Nelson, Information Week

“Cogent, urgent and well worth reading.” –Kirkus Reviews


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