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Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  1,606 ratings  ·  202 reviews
With the imagery of a poet and the reflection of a philosopher, David Whyte turns his attention to 52 ordinary words, each its own particular doorway into the underlying currents of human life.

Beginning with ALONE and closing with WORK, each chapter is a meditation on meaning and context, an invitation to shift and broaden our perspectives on the inevitable vicissitudes
Paperback, 245 pages
Published December 2014 by Many Rivers Press
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Average rating 4.44  · 
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Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays
Sometimes I want to forget everyone else and just read David Whyte.

These essays kindle the Divine and at the same time give me peace and hope in being human. This is a book to read and re-read. Every page is filled with wisdom, grace, comfort, freedom, and seemingly just whatever I need in the moment.

While these essays, and David Whyte's poetry, reach between worlds, David Whyte is here to embrace and explore, not to deny or resist anything. I appreciate that.

Take your pick from:

Sarah Al Qassimi
Dedicated to WORDS and their beautiful hidden and beckoning uncertainty.

I was plunged deep into the depths of Whyte's luminous reflections, awash with awe at the kindness he treats his words with. Reading this was a healing experience. A salve to the bitterest soul wounds. A delicate weaving of poetic magic. A treasure trove waiting to be rediscovered over and over again.

This is the kind of book I would give to complete strangers. I would walk up to someone, shove it into their arms and say,
Howard Franklin
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear Fellow Book Lovers,

I am very excited to recommend to you, Consolations, The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words, by David Whyte. My excitement stems from the fact that I have rarely read such a valuable book, and by that I mean that this 245-page collection of two-to-four page essays rewards the reader with a treasure trove of insights into what it means to be a human being. Whyte, a poet of considerable renown, with seven volumes of poetry to his credit, (as well
Emma Sea
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: auckland-library
Sadly, this didn't move me the way I expected. Each entry is lovely on its own, but as a collection I found them homogenous, with no break in the texture and flow. This gave me a rapidly decreasing sense of enjoyment. Probably a mistake to try to read it as book, instead of exploring one entry as a time, with a pause for reflection.
May 24, 2016 added it
Shelves: poetry
This is not a book one reads straight through. Instead, it is to opened intentionally or accidentally to one of the short 2 or 3 page entries: genius, Istanbul, procrastination, silence. Read slowly. Savor. Let the words move you. This is a book I will be reading for the rest of my life.
I came across Whyte's book a while back when browsing for new poetry. The high average vote on Goodreads made me curious, and so, here I am


A mismatch between expectations and experience usually means I was the wrong audience. And perhaps I was. With that in mind, here's my experience:

Consolations contains fifty or so chapters, titled according to feelings or attributes or common nouns (Regret, Maturity, Shadow). The two exceptions are Istanbul and Rome (?). Each chapter is a couple
Eduardo Santiago
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites-2018
Exquisite. I cherished this book for a few brief but intense months, opening it on random pages, sometimes reading sequentially but always slowly, always savoring. Whyte makes the quotidian new again, granting fresh perspectives on words and feelings we thought we knew.

I wanted to hold on to it longer; forever, maybe, to continue perusing and learning from. Each moment with it was different. But it was not mine to keepis anything? It is now in the hands of someone who will, I know, adore it as
Victoria Weinstein
Jun 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is 245 pages of word salad. It's the kind of writing that sounds good flowing past the ear and eye until you really stop to examine the progression and coherence of the author's ideas and and fall into a vat of mushy philosophical stew. Not one of these essays held up to even a cursory analysis; the ideas are all over the place.
A secondary weakness of this meandering series of essays is that they are completely conceptual. There is nary a story or concrete example to illustrate any of
Anita Ashland
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I like this book so much. He is a poet, which is undoubtedly why each chapter is very short and packed with insights. This is that rare book where I could underline every sentence because each one is thought-provoking. I find it very interesting that he is also a business consultant and has a degree in marine biology. I intend to always keep this book near my bedside and open it to a random page from time to time for inspiration.
K.J. Ramsey
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a book about paying courageous attention to your life. It will slow you and startle you, even as it soothes. Whyte invites us to encounter the painful and prosaic realities that make up our everyday experiences in order to engage life more fully. He consistently and carefully turns words inside out, and thus, turns your attention from outside in and back again. Whyte invites you to both see and sail in the larger conversational tide of your past, present, and future.

This book is
Alyssa Foll
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I can hardly remember a book that I have savored more than Consolations. (This is, in part, because I tend to devour books that I enjoy) Every single word is intentional and meaningful; Whyte has the ability to cause one to reflect deeply on "everyday words."
I borrowed this from the library, but then had to go out and buy my own copy. So, so good.
Aug 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Don't get me wrong: the ideas and observations described are for sure profound. But I really struggled with the way it is written, as I value clear, concise writing. This was a little overloaded for me. Plus, the inflationary use of the word "generous" was a real problem. Oftentimes I suspect that it's added to make the thought sound more deep than it is (of which I already had enough watching School of Life on YouTube).
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Should be read slowly.
Lauren Davis
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love all David Whyte's work and this book of meditations and reflections on words is the perfect just-before-sleep reading.
Paula Dembeck
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a book I may never have picked up on my own. It was loaned to me by a friend who suggested it be read in short bursts rather than cover to cover in one sitting. After taking her advice, I believe she was right. It is a book that has much to say in few words but requires slow and thoughtful reading and reflection. If you hurry through it you may miss much of what it has to say.

David Whyte is an English philosopher and poet with several books of poetry and prose to his name. In this small
Glennys Egan
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous meditations on life and words and feeling and meaning and how, ultimately, we grow through them. I am particularly moved by Joy, Denial, Courage, and Naming - but that may also have something to do with where I am at in my life. I expect to return to these in future; I hope to live life differently because of them.
Samuel Gulpan
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a book one will never finish reading, nor will it ever be the same book twice.

It is deeply thoughtful, graceful, heady without being intimidating. Soulful. It is an invitation to dive deeply not only into the words we commonly use in our day-to-day discourse, but also an invitation into oneself. It is a mirror of sorts, a song, a chorus tuned to the key of you. And it is a key...nay, a key-ring to the infinite doors in the infinite cathedral of selves we contain.

I love the silence this
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One poem a day by David Whyte...cure for all ills!
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual, favorites
Super essential, bite-sized magic.

This short book is conceptual exploration at its finest: a soulful consequent of lived experience and a poetry of sorts that refuses to take refuge behind citations and jargon. Whyte is contrarian only as necessary: that is, in order to dispel the many widespread illusions about our everyday words.
Jane Glossil
Common words expanded through observations, experiences, reflections, and insight on their relation to life. David Whyte's lens and prose are exquisite. This book is a treasure. Love it!
Hannah Merwin
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
A book I will definitely refer back to as needed. Despair was a favorite. Some felt a little contrived but for the most part I fell in love and saw the world and myself a little differently.
Veronica Watson
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Profound ponderings that seem humble even as they argue nothing, only speak. I think the title is well chosen. That's exactly what this book is.
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely incredible. This was recommended by a lovely independent bookstore owner in Charleston, SC and what a recommendation it was! I will treasure this book and keep it by my bedside for years to come. Wise, comforting and true words at a time when we need it the most.
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Nuggets of thoughtful wisdom to be read, pondered, shared, and then re-read, and the entire process repeated. A guide for life.
Maddie Nastase
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this in the late hours and it always felt like a safe embrace.
Jana Rađa
Brain Pickings, Maria Popovas lens on what matters in the world and why, posts wonderful book reviews. Over the past few years, Brain Pickings posted several articles on David Whyte, and that is how I found out about him. There was the article on the true meaning of friendship, love, and heartbreak, there was one on anger, forgiveness, and what maturity really means, and the one on longing and silence. They are all taken from David Whytes Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying ...more
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
David Whyte's genius is at his peak here starting with dedication:

Dedicated to
WORDS and their
Amy Beth
I really enjoyed this little book, and I think anyone who likes Brené Brown will love this too. For most words, he took the unexpected side. Shyness, mortality, and mistakes he describes as necessary and good components of human existence while his descriptions of love and joy are tempered with a large amount of realism. The writing is half poetry and half philosophy.

A couple of favorite quotes (once I started writing them down):

"Solace is the art of asking the beautiful question of ourselves,
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
'The solace, nourishment and underlying meaning of everyday words.' A genuinely nourishing book indeed.

With poetic wisdom, through miniature essays, David Whyte reframes and expands 52 familiar words - many of which are solidly considered by our culture to have negative connotations.

Reframing not only provides consolation, but also allows us to tell a better story. It is a counter-cultural act to take words loaded with cultural or personal baggage and expectation, then breathe new life into
John Kaye
Mar 02, 2020 rated it did not like it
About as profound as a 5-day old flat-fish. Clearly I'm not in sympathy with either the prose or the sentiments. The writing is pretentious nonsense: "Destiny always has a possessor, as in my destiny or your destiny or her destiny; it gives a sense of something we cannot avoid or something waiting for us; it is a word of torybook or mythic dimension". Apart from trying to work out what 'torybook' might mean (and if it's a typo then the editor needs firingwell they needed firing before this), I ...more
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Poet David Whyte grew up with a strong, imaginative influence from his Irish mother among the hills and valleys of his fathers Yorkshire. He now makes his home in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

The author of seven books of poetry and three books of prose, David Whyte holds a degree in Marine Zoology and has traveled extensively, including living and working as a naturalist guide in the

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