Dedicated: coming to bookstores May 4th

A case for commitment — and against keeping our options open.

I have a book coming out on May 4th: Dedicated: A Case for Commitment in An Age of Infinite Browsing.

As I was growing up, I kept getting advice to "keep your options open." But I started noticing that the people earning respect were those who didn't follow that advice. They were long-haul heroes—people who dedicated themselves to particular causes and crafts, places and people; people who showed their love for particular things by working at them for a long time.

For years, I've been thinking about this tension between our infinite browsing and our love for this Counterculture of Commitment—the citizens, patriots, builders, stewards, artisans, and companions who close doors and forgo options for the sake of things bigger than themselves.

Dedicated is about that tension. It's a case for commitment—and against keeping your options open. My hope is that it can help readers rebel from our culture of open options, join up with the Counterculture of Commitment, and place themselves among the dedicated. You can pre-order at

Here’s the speech that inspired the book:

Here’s the official description:

Most of us have had this experience: browsing through countless options on Netflix, unable to commit to watching any given movie—and losing so much time skimming reviews and considering trailers that it’s too late to watch anything at all. In a book borne of an idea first articulated in a viral commencement address, Pete Davis argues that this is the defining characteristic of the moment: keeping our options open. We are stuck in “Infinite Browsing Mode”—swiping through endless dating profiles without committing to a single partner, jumping from place to place searching for the next big thing, and refusing to make any decision that might close us off from an even better choice we imagine is just around the corner. This culture of restlessness and indecision, Davis argues, is causing tension in the lives of young people today: We want to keep our options open, and yet we yearn for the purpose, community, and depth that can only come from making deep commitments.

In Dedicated, Davis examines this quagmire, as well as the counterculture of committers who have made it to the other side. He shares what we can learn from the “long-haul heroes” who courageously commit themselves to particular places, professions, and causes—who relinquish the false freedom of an open future in exchange for the deep fulfillment of true dedication. Weaving together examples from history, personal stories, and applied psychology, Davis’s candid and humble words offer a meaningful answer to our modern frustrations and a practical path to joy.

And here’s some nice blurbs, including from some people who are long-haul heroes themselves:

“Well-versed in the current zeitgeist, Davis is insightful without being preachy, and his wise guide to commitment should be on everyone’s reading list." Booklist (starred review)

"If you have ever struggled to cross the Rubicon and commit to an endeavor that would foreclose other options, then this book is for you. Pete Davis provides a provocative countercultural thesis for our time, explaining why resolve and stamina are in such short supply and how we can, in an era of infinite browsing, learn to be dedicated." —Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance and founder and CEO of Character Lab

"Pete Davis is one of America’s most creative and inspiring young writers—sparkling with enthusiasm, yet profound beyond his years. In Dedicated he challenges his peers to change America and themselves for the better by committing themselves to something greater than self. It’s a sermon, all right, but it’s far too lively to be just a sermon. And those of us a bit older could learn a thing or two by eavesdropping." —Robert D. Putnam, Research Professor, Harvard Kennedy School, and author of Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again

“Pete Davis’s Dedicated is a magisterial book on the moral Counterculture of Commitment in our shallow culture of money and fear. His depth of wisdom and scope of knowledge are astonishing. And his powerful vision of decency and democracy are compelling.” —Dr. Cornel West

"The most countercultural act you can do today may be committing to something for a long period of time, maybe forever. That's the word that married couples tend to balk on these days—not 'love,' 'honor' or even 'obey,' but 'forever' or 'all my life.' In his provocative new book Pete Davis shows us why commitment is so difficult for people today, but why it is also not only beneficial, but necessary, if we are ever to accomplish anything of value or live lives of depth." —James Martin, SJ, author of Learning to Pray

“This is a brilliant book about one of the defining predicaments of our time: the temptation to keep our options open. Pete Davis is the fresh voice of wisdom that our culture desperately needs—Dedicated is required reading for the 21st century pursuit of happiness and success.” —Adam Grant, New York Times–bestselling author of Think Again and Originals, and host of the TED podcast "WorkLife"

“An engaging exploration of how to restore meaning and purpose and the satisfactions of enduring commitment in an era of short attention spans and infinite choice. In this greatly expanded version of a 2018 Harvard commencement speech, Pete Davis challenges his generation—and all of us—to reconnect to the institutions and relationships that truly matter—and will build a better world." —Drew Gilpin Faust, President Emerita of Harvard University, and author of This Republic of Suffering

"In a society of endless possibilities, I’ve long felt there was something radical about commitment. Instead of letting that insight take the form of a passing thought, Pete Davis devoted himself to exploring the same intuition, and the result is a thoughtful, original, erudite, and inspiring manifesto. We can scroll through life and stay in the shallows, or limit our options and connect on a deeper more satisfying level. Devoting your attention to the wisdom in these pages is a good way to begin.” —Astra Taylor, documentary filmmaker and author of Democracy May Not Exist, but We'll Miss It When It's Gone

“My dad used to say, ‘If it’s worth doing, it's worth doing right.' It was his take on the importance of dedication. Most everything that matters requires dedication: day-in, day-out, year-in, year-out. At the end of every effort you want to be able to look back and feel the kind of satisfaction that can’t come from staying on the sidelines. Pete Davis’s Dedicated is a book that speaks to me and shares important messages and values that can be helpful to anyone who is facing a challenge or simply looking to excel in what’s important to you.” —Cal Ripken Jr., Hall of Fame shortstop and third baseman

"This is the book we need right now, more than ever. There's no useful forward motion without enrollment, and that requires commitment. Pete Davis knows that it's up to each of us to choose to matter." —Seth Godin, author of This is Marketing

I wrote this book (and originally gave the speech that inspired the book) for a few reasons.

First, I am a superfan of long-haul heroes—and wanted to simply share my love for them with the world. Whether it’s Ida B. Wells tirelessly working for decades on her anti-lynching crusade, or David Letterman doing his same run of show for 33 years, or Jimmy Wales building and sustaining Wikipedia, or Rabbi Amy Schwartzman in my town stewarding Falls Church’s Temple Rodef Shalom for decades—I have always been enchanted by people who work on 10-, 20-, 30-year projects. With Dedicated, I hope I can help us better spotlight this special type of hero—not the hero that responds to a big, brave moment, but the hero who strings together years of ordinary moments into something special.

Second, I think there is much that the tension between browsing and committing illuminates about our time. It is a way into understanding how our pursuit of flexibility, authenticity, and novelty is haunted by the risk of paralysis, isolation, and shallowness. It helps make sense of the relationship between what could be called liberatory politics (freeing ourselves from oppression) and dedicatory politics (building things together). And it’s a lens through which to see clearer certain tensions in our economy (between the triumph of money over the love of particular things), in our moral system (between a culture of indifference and a culture of honor), and in our education system (between education for personal advancement and education for attachment to things bigger than ourselves). In short, our relationship to commitment on a personal level implicates larger questions about society and culture.

Finally, I think commitment is the ultimate prerequisite for all significant civic action. For those of you who follow my work, you know that there are all these civic projects and ideas that I care about—specifically, the projects of deepening American democracy and solidarity. But none of the projects any of us care about are going to be advanced if there are not enough people willing to commit to them over the long haul. Today, there are so many big problems to solve, institutions to rebuild, and breaches to repair. And there are no silver bullets for these crises. Forming communities takes a long time, and so does healing community divisions. Building institutions takes a long time, and so does reviving institutions that have been corrupted. Transformative political change takes an especially long time: To take ideas from “unthinkable” to “thinkable but fringe” to “debatable” to “popular” to “consensus” is a trek. Teaching a lesson, advancing a cause, rectifying an injustice, revitalizing a town, cracking a tough puzzle, launching a venture—they all come slow. And none of them will happen if we cannot become a more dedicated people.

I look forward to sharing the book with all of you:

  • You can pre-order a physical, digital, or audio book at:

  • If you are interested in reviewing Dedicated or doing an interview for your show, email and I'll get you an advance copy.

  • To book an interview or host an event, my publicity contact is Alexandra Primiani, who you can contact at

  • My marketing contact is Meredith Vilarello, who you can contact at

  • For more information, check out:

Loading more posts…