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

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,132 ratings  ·  143 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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 ·  1,132 ratings  ·  143 reviews

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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 p
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 an
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
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.
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.
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 keep—is anything? It is now in the hands of someone who will, I know,
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.
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 of pages longare (Regret,/>
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There's some gorgeous, deep thinking here. I can imagine dipping into it randomly from time to time for a bit of calm refection and inspiration.
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.
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Should be read slowly.
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.
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One poem a day by David Whyte...cure for all ills!
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.
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.
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.
Jana Rađa
Brain Pickings, Maria Popova’s 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 Whyte’s Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words—a collection of s ...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 quest
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 br
Deirdre Keating
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believe I heard about this title on Katrina Kenison's blog, but I can't remember. I was delighted when a professor at Mines chose it for their reading group. Whyte chooses 50 some words and writes a short essay on each that merges poetry and philosophy into...a meditation? I don't know how to describe it but it works. I thought it might veer toward fluff or repetition but each essay was brilliant in its own way. Definitely a nightstand book to read through slowly.

Some of my favorites---the es
Phil Nguyen
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In poetic prose, Whyte illuminates and magnifies the meaning of everyday words, ones we throw around so frivolously without a second thought.

Among my favorites are Friendship, Joy, Gratitude, Maturity, and Heartbreak.

"the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them
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
Travel Writing
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Every human on earth
David Whyte's "Consolations" reminds me so very much of John O'Donohue's "Bless the Space Between Us", they are so very similar, and so very different. Lovely all the same.

Where "Bless the Space Between Us" entities are truly blessings, Consolations take 52 words and expands, nudges, and shines them ever so gently so much further- essays of wit, and comfort, and consolations. An aptly named book, I see :)

This is a book that you will return to time and time again. Some books are 'one and done',
Bill Pritchard
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Consider this as an idea: Choose a word for the week - just one word - and think deeply on its meaning to you in your current life - and the life you wish to lead. David Whyte captures this essence in Consolations. The importance of these everyday words - like Alone, Ambition and Anger (just to cover the "A"s - provided many afternoons and evenings of thought. I plan on introducing the idea to the Exchange Students I work with to prepare them to spend a year abroad as a 16-17 year old. I hope th ...more
Natalie Chua
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: soulful-reads
This is one of the best books I have ever read.
It has a soulful perspective that offers one a peak into their own inner knowing and taps into a deep truth.
David Whyte brings the meaning of these everyday words into light, and brings a beautiful depth to each of them.
I like to read it by going through the content page and allowing myself to gravitate towards a certain word; the subsequent experience is always so illuminating.
A book I'll recommend to anyone for sure!
Thank you David
Ginni Dickinson
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This amazing little book by poet David Whyte is one of the most inspiring and comforting books I've read. Whyte offers short essays about the meanings of everyday words such as loneliness, longing, regret, and memory. Here is an excerpt from friendship: "Through the eyes of a real friendship an individual is larger than their everyday actions, and through the eyes of another we receive a greater sense of our own personhood, one we can aspire to, the one in whom they have the most faith." The ent ...more
Ed Kent
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
At once engaging, stimulating and thought-provoking, the seemingly simple dedication of mini 'essays' to everyday words is everything but simple. This book is a life guide, a thought guide, and a salvation for any of us lost in the human condition. It reminds us through these words of our shared humanity and the raw beauty of being human in a world often hard to understand but equally beautiful in the experience of it. Poetically driven, the prose is easy to read and I could barely put it down. ...more
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is possibly the best written book I have read in a few years, concise but poetic, and always inviting to contemplate and shift one's own perception; a book you want to have nearby, read slowly and enjoy the musical colour of the words to settle in your mind. The brief chapters deal with one commonly used word at a time, 52 all together. They challenge the reader to expand inwardly and by doing so they will find renewed hope and consolation.
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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 father’s 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
“But no matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.” 26 likes
“Forgiveness is a heartache and difficult to achieve because strangely, it not only refuses to eliminate the original wound, but actually draws us closer to its source. To approach forgiveness is to close in on the nature of the hurt itself, the only remedy being, as we approach its raw centre, to reimagine our relation to it.” 21 likes
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