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The Wisdom of Donkeys: Finding Tranquility in a Chaotic World

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  215 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
A literary ode to peace, presence, and fulfillment inspired by a walk taken with a most surprising creature.

“The demon of speed is often associated with forgetting, with avoidance…and slowness with memory and confronting,†observes Milan Kundera in his novel Slowness. With that purpose in mind—a search for slowness and tranquillity—Andy Merrifield set out on a j
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 19th 2008 by Walker Books (first published January 17th 2008)
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Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Booknblues
An English man who gives up on the struggle for a literary career in New York City retreats to the Avignon region in central France for a period of rural contemplation. Based on earlier brief forays in Egypt and Morocco, he takes up long hiking trips with a donkey for a companion and pack animal. He learns to accommodate to their famous stubbornness: “You tell a horse …but you need to ask a donkey.” According to a French expression: “A donkey pushes himself; he’s not pulled.”

His donkey’s name i
Feb 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, france, 2000s, animals
Not rated ... In my first grad school librarian class, the professor, the most helpful lifelong of all college instructors, handed each of us a reading list, instructing us to be able to discuss the books in the following weeks' classes. My list had 17 items. Other students had similar sized lists. Every list was different. Students wouldn't be competing for a limited number of library copies. That pace continued ... it strongly influenced my reading patterns after becoming a public library dire ...more
After living in the noisy and fast-paced atmosphere of New York City for a decade, geography teacher and author Andy Merrifield searched for a more tranquil life. He found it walking across Auvergne with Gribouille, a big chocolate-colored donkey, as a companion. It was a time of reflection and slowing down as they traversed the French rural bridle paths.

I had never given much thought to donkeys and their gentle, quiet nature, but was fascinated by them by the end of the book. The author reflect
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-writing
I ended up enjoying this book far more than I had anticipated. At first I thought, "A book about a man walking around France with a donkey? Sounds like fun." Being a big fan of travel writing, I picked it up at the library, but this book was so much more than travel writing/literature. This is a love song to donkeys, to slowing down, to living life with less but being more content. It's a lovely story filled with Merrifield's philosophies about life, literature, and donkeys. At times, Merrifield ...more
Stephanie Carson
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
It was good - and teaches us a valuable message about how this equine species can teach us how to be patient, kind, thoughtful, careful, gentle, and calm. But that message could have been conveyed in fewer pages. Like the author's donkey pal, the book is heartwarming, but moved at a very slow pace. I just lost interest and gave up about half way through.
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals, travel
The Wisdom of Donkeys
By Andy Merrifield
4 stars
pp. 258

Finding tranquility in a chaotic world is Merrifield's subtitle to The Wisdom of Donkeys and that is exactly what Merrifield was doing following a personal undefined crisis. Merrifield a native of Liverpool, England had wanted two things in his life to live in New York City and immerse himself in academia. He had both of those, a PhD in Geography, an urban Marxist theorist an active author and yet during a crisis of faith he walked away and fo
Elizabeth La Lettrice
maybe i'm just not ready to grasp "tranquility" but this book moved too goddamn slow for me. also, it felt like, rather than writing a book about a personal experience, the author SEEMED to go on a personal experience for the purposes of writing a book. i guess you've got to create your writing inspiration when you're living the slow life in a small french hamlet? he never goes into his "why" for the journey, nor the distance or time (at least, i didn't pick up on it - i think it was a few days? ...more
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
biraz yavaşlamaya, benliğe ve hayata dair sakince düşünmeye ihtiyacınız varsa bi' bakın derim..

Terri ducay
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book several books ago while traveling and the person who recommended it said it was a wonderful read. I finally slowed down to read it and what a wonderful book it is!

If you like animals you will enjoy this book. Even if you do not like animals, this is worth the read. It's about life and how what we think we need in our life is not always true.

Also learning more how donkeys play such an important role for most of the world, how smart and strong they are gives insight in how speci
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfict, animals, psych, memoir
This book is fantastic. Musings on the inner lives of donkeys. Walking cross country with a donkey, the author brings together donkey lore and literature and his own experiences having a simple, natural space of time to explore the world.
May 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: sister in law Sue
First, it made me want to buy a donkey, then look after him and stroke him/her, and learn to understand the animal.... The author writes so you feel you are on the journey with him and the donkey, and it is a very strong feel-good book.
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
At the beginning, it all seems very boring, and the author seems like he's not getting anywhere with his words. But once the journey really kicks in, it's like you're in it with Merrifield together. Gribouille is charming. You have to read this book.
Scott Lake
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Jealousy. The emotion you may experience in reading this book about the author's walking journey through southern France, enjoying life at a pace the modern world has forgotten, in the companionship of Gribouille - a donkey.

Merrifield shows he is a soul-mate of Robert Frost.
Jan 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, nonfiction
A nice read written by a man that backpacks around southern France with a donkey as a companion. He relates a lot of stories of donkeys in literature (he is an encyclopedia of literature) to how they are viewed today as he walks from town to town with Gribouille.
I often read lists of favorite books famous (or not so famous) people suggest. I think THE WISDOM OF DONKEYS was on Deborah Madison's list. No matter. I thank the person whose list this wonderful book was on. It is a keeper. It's going directly to the shelf holding my favorite books. A book I took my time reading and now want to go back and read again to see what I missed! First, it is a marvelous animal book, a study of the donkey. From the history of the donkey that takes Merrifield from the S ...more
Ann Tracy
Mar 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Ann by: book club
Shelves: didn-t-finish
let's put it this way: i have a pacemaker that is set so that my heart rate doesn't go below 60. i'm fairly certain that my pacemaker was working 100% of the time while reading this book. i wanted to like this book about a man with his donkey in france but it was so slow, and there so many books in the world. moving on...
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, writing
This was an arduous read. I would have preferred more translation for the French words sprinkled among the sesquipedalian English verbatim. The text was very meandering and serpentine. I doubt I ever read this book again.
Elaine Donovan
This is a lovely book that lets you meander through the French countryside and Merrifield's mind. The book is dotted with educating about donkeys and their plight in the world. I found it an enjoyable read.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very sweet book to read before going to sleep. I now want a donkey friend. :)
Mehmet Kutup
Mar 24, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Varsa yoksa eşek. Eşekler hakkında neden herşeyi öğrenmek ister ki insan. Bilemedim.
May 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Andy Merrifield has had a troubled life and he has found peace in a French village and with the companionship of donkeys. This book describes a journey he took through the Auvergne with Gribouille, a donkey hired for the occasion. The book describes this lovely quiet journey with the most cooperative Gribouille and the writer's thoughts and musings on donkeys and life.

Sometimes it hits the right spot but there is too much information about the historical mistreatment of donkeys for me to relax
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert C.
Gribouille is French for scribble and is also the name of the donkey in this book.

Andy Merrifield is a Marxist urban theorist and is also the name of the human in this book.

Gribouille is kind enough to walk with Andy around the French countryside and inspire him to remember other donkeys in real life and in literature. Andy does lots of thinking and writing about donkeys and the philosophy of taking it easy and then he wrote this book about it.

This book is chock full of donkeys.

It’s rather too s
Scott Munden
Dec 23, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a wonderful little book and I've never really read anything like it. It is something of a self-help text and I usually run in the opposite direction of books of that ilk. This seemed different to me however. "The Wisdon of Donkeys" is also a travelogue, an extended meditation and a plea for empathy with fellow sentient beings.

Merrifield's donkey could have been written as a metaphoric argument for slowing the hyper-pace of our lives. The book could have been just about the lost pleasure
Marina Kahn
Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I was traveling in the Grand Canyon for the New Year and taking in the beautiful panorama of the Canyon in winter and stopped at the Angel Ridge Lodge to warm up and purchase some souvenirs and came upon this book which was highly recommended by one of the Navajo working in the shop. I immediately purchased it thinking it was about the donkeys out west. Imagine my surprise once I started to look at the book that it was actually the story of a humble donkey and finding tranquility from the noisy ...more
Mar 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Donkeys are amazing creatures - kind, gentle, trusting, calm, and very strong. Let's hope they are also forgiving after the way humans have treated them throughout history.

The Wisdom of Donkeys is a story about slowing down life. Andy Merrifield takes a journey through southern France with a borrowed donkey, and we are constantly reminded that the art of daydreaming or "passive adventure" is the greatest piece of wisdom to be learned from these animals.

In our modern frenetic rat race, we are un
Oct 15, 2014 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, and perhaps I am biased since I have donkeys and I hike with them almost daily- so I have my own views of donkey-nature. This tale is about a man who walks across southern France with a donkey, and like many such memoirs the story weaves in present experiences with history of the area, history of donkeys, other tales about donkeys, and tales from the author's past that are brought forth as a result of his long trek with the donkey. An enjoyable book for those who like storie ...more
Eva Whiteley
A charming tale of a man and a donkey on an amble through a part of rural France. My impression is that the author had no previous experience of caring for an equestrian friend. For that reason, it was pleasure to read about how he’d prepared for the trip and then subsequently how the relationship grew over the turning of the pages. This is a slow paced book of calm and tranquillity. To fill in what could have been repetitiveness of the landscape and quiet days, there is contemplation and some w ...more
Dilek Yeşil
Sadece yolculuk etmek için bir Eşekle yolculuk eden birini yazan yazar, kitabını da öyle okumanızı bekliyor sanki. Sadece okumanız bekleniyor. Kitabın sonunu merak etmiyorsunuz bile...
Eşeklere bu kadar yakından bakınca onları sevmemeniz mümkün değil. Sakin, huzurlu ve de inatçı eşekleri seviyorum. Hele ki inatçılıklarının altında yatan, doğru bildiğini yapma cesareti beni çok etkiledi. Sürüklenip başkalarını takip etmek, kendi konumunuzu inatla koruyup doğru olduğuna inandığınız yere gitmekten
Jun 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a sweet book that simply by the composition led you to slow down as you read through the pages.
It is less of a adventure story but more of a lot of thoughtful introspection. I had to laugh when I saw it listed under the Self Help section of a few online book sites.
I had never really thought of it that way but perhaps it is it's own meditation of sorts.
I do admit that I now want to travel the French countryside with a donkey. I'm not sure that is for everyone but neither is a contempla
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