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Jayber Crow

(Port William)

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  11,561 ratings  ·  1,760 reviews
From the simple setting of his own barber shop, Jayber Crow, orphan, SEMInarian, and native of Port William, recalls his life and the life of his community as it spends itself in the middle of the twentieth century. Surrounded by his friends and neighbors, he is both participant and witness as the community attempts to transcend its own decline. And meanwhile Jayber learns ...more
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Published June 12th 2007 by christianaudio Fiction (first published September 5th 2000)
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Average rating 4.37  · 
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 ·  11,561 ratings  ·  1,760 reviews

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Diane Barnes
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Jayber! You told me your story and now I am drained, and devastated, and full of the joy of having known you. You, sir, are that rarest of things: A good man. A man who did his job, helped his neighbors, loved and laughed when he could, and, all along tried to do no harm.

Let me tell the rest of you about Jayber. Orphaned twice by the age of 10, sent to an orphanage where he got an education and learned to love books, he was told he needed to "make something of himself", so decided he heard t
"As I did not know then but know now, the surface of the river is like a living soul, which is easy to disturb, is often disturbed, but, growing calm, shows what it was, is, and will be."

This book was an absolute joy to read and Jayber Crow one of the most wise and gentle souls I have thus far encountered in a piece of literature. Somehow the opportunity to read this book came at the perfect time for me. Anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays mark times when we often find ourselves reflecting on
Still waters run deep

That line is old wisdom, recorded in English from 1400, and Latin before that.

A river runs through the town, and Jayber’s life, “a barrier and yet a connection” to other worlds, its many creeks and branches reflected in the digressive storytelling. Jayber is a quiet observer of his small community. He is a contributor and participant as well, but it’s his gentle and generous philosophical musings that form the eddies and undercurrents of this understated novel. The flotsa
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: May the song of good hope walk with you through everything
Shelves: dost, read-in-2016
Jayber Crow is an octogenarian barber who sits under the poplars that hedge in his cabin and stares at the reflections on the river water that is always running somewhere, with time floating in swirls of memories of a life fully lived and now suddenly gone, its light extinguished from within. And yet, this very same river erodes the hills and pastures that have crowned Jayber’s home since the beginning of times as if to remind him that everything changes so that the essential remains the same.

Wonderful book that seemed to increase in wonder as I read. Berry's ability to create characters of such "person-hood" amazed me. His creations, beginning with Jayber Crow, seem real, gifted with actual traits (good and not so) as would be found among living, breathing folk. Their experiences seem to reflect American life of this time and place....but I think even more than this place. For me, Berry has captured some elemental realities of American life. Though I have not ever lived in a small p ...more
Other reviews have commented on the fictional part of this book, i.e. the life story of Jayber Crow so I will not mention it. Instead I will focus on how this book worked for me.
When I had finished it, I wondered about where I would shelve it (not something I often think of, and a tribute to how much I valued reading it), and I immediately realised it belonged with a group of authors that I have come to love, a group who share a theme, the theme of 'place'. Authors such as Alastair MacLeod, John
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Time for read through number 4...
Read through #3.
Perhaps it's just one of those stories which only intensifies and becomes greater with each reading...

All I know is that with every reading, the end of this book makes me feel like I need to take a step back from everything-- and really assess the world around me with clearer eyes.
And work toward mercy.


One year later, after my first read through, I am amending my original 4 star rating to
”My rightful first name is Jonah, but I had not gone by that name since I was ten years old. I had been called simply J., and that was the way I signed myself. Once my customers took me to themselves, they called me Jaybird, and then Jayber. Thus I became, and have remained, a possession of Port William.”

A plaintive, nostalgic lamentation on an era and the people living in the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky shared through the thoughts of Jayber Crow. A town, a time that arrived see
I must admit, after thoroughly pondering this philosophical novel, that I did not agree with some of the author's idealistic solutions to the world's problems, in particular the naive approach to agriculture and the economy. I will accept that it was not the author's own viewpoint, which I doubt, but that of our dearly beloved Jayber Crown's. However, the novel is a tour de force for lyrical prose and the philosophy behind heaven and hell.

Phew, the impact of Jayber Crow's unrequitted love for Ma

“Where, I have asked myself, is this reflection? It is not on the top of the water, for if there is a little current the river can slide frictionlessly and freely beneath the reflection and the reflection does not move.”

There’s a saying that you never step in the same river twice. So it seems reasonable for Jayber Crow to ask the question. Where IS the reflection?

Most of his life he wonders what purpose he serves by being alive in the world. Every once in a while he has a sudden epiphany or
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sara by: Southern Literary Trail
Before I can tell you how much I loved this book, I must tell you that my father, like Jayber Crow, was a barber in a time when the barber shop was a social place and not a styling salon. I loved this very male place, where I could very rarely slip myself into a corner and listen to old men talk about the weather and the crops and gossip about one another in a friendly and civil way. My father was also a self-taught fiddler and music would often pour from the back room of the shop well into the ...more
Connie G
It was such a pleasure to read Wendell Berry's lyrical prose about a quiet, observant man living through the 20th Century. Jayber Crow was orphaned twice as a young boy, first when his parents died and then when his adoptive aunt and uncle passed away. He was sent to an orphanage, spent time at a divinity school until he questioned his faith, and worked some small jobs. But the river that flowed near his rural childhood home called to him, and he made his way back to Port William, Kentucky.

Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Steve aka Sckenda
A moving and uplifting portrait of heaven. That’s how Jayber Crow sees it as he reflects on his life as an ordinary man living his life as a barber in close connection to his community in rural Kentucky, Port William. Or maybe I should say an extraordinary man in an ordinary community. What makes Crow special is that he believes in love, even to the point of trying his best to love his enemies. On my part, I found it easy to love him and hated for my time harvesting his wisdom and sensibilities ...more
An easy five star rating for this one- half way through I already knew it had become one of my favorite books.

Not driven by plot, in fact not "driven" in any sense, this is a story that walks you gently and honestly through many parts of a life. It's hard to put words to a reading experience such as this one that takes you deep into the heart of what it means to live, to be alive. Despite its fiction narrative, "Jayber Crow" feels far closer to a guided mediation on youth and age, Progress vs. n
Nov 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 STARS.

“ I will stand like a tree and be in myself as I am.”

This book as the title indicates is about Jayber Crow. He is looking back on his life and reflecting on the paths he took, to get back to where home was for him.

Jayber Crow is a good, kind man- I would hazard to say, too good. He has lived in Port Williams for most of his life, but for the most part, he has always felt like a bystander.

I would call this a philosophical book. Jayber ponders religion, his place in the world, the justi
Esteban del Mal
Apr 14, 2011 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Esteban by: Ms. Carda
Pet peeves:

1.) Cars with dealer license plate frames. You bought the car, is it necessary to advertise where you bought it from? For free? This is America, you dumbass. Have some self-respect.

2.) Company vehicles that have an overhead dome light that has some sort of short in it that causes it to light-up whenever I go over railroad tracks, potholes, or spare change in the road at a speed of greater than 3 MPH and consequently makes me feel like the centerpiece in some hackneyed corporate motiva
``Laurie Henderson
In the beginning Jayber Crow was a happy child living with his parents in northern Kentucky where life was still pretty primitive. No electricity or indoor plumbing and they grew all their own food. Jayber's parents had died of the flu after WW1 so his childless Aunt and Uncle brought him home to live giving him everything a child could possible need.

The lyrical descriptions of the countryside and Jayber's childhood reminded me of the book The Yearling where young Jody ran wild in rural Florida
Cathrine ☯️
Less is more.
If the terms environmental activist, organic farming, or sustainable development have a place in your personal beliefs or you’re a fan of Thoreau, Muir, or Gandhi, you will no doubt appreciate or love Wendell Berry and this book. If not, chances are you will really like it anyway. Fair to say he uses this story as a platform to espouse his beliefs, many of which I also embrace, but beyond that it’s an exceptionally and beautifully told tale about a man and the life, or more pertin
Oct 27, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of a number of books and short stories Wendell Berry has written on the fiction town of Port William in Kentucky. There are characters from this novel that appear in other works of his. I read “Hannah Coulter” and liked it a great deal. She was married to Nathan Coulter, and he is mentioned in this book (I think he is mentioned....never mind that I just read it!)..

There is a passage from “Hannah Coulter” as I was reading it that I very much appreciated, and I am glad I placed it in m
I'd had the idea, once, that if I could get the chance before I died I would read all the good books there were. Now I began to see that I wasn't apt to make it. This disappointed me, for I really wanted to read them all.

It says a lot that I started this book on September 23rd, and didn't finish it until November 12th. I meant to read a chapter each day, I really did, but I didn't exactly wake up each morning saying, gee . . . I wonder what madcap adventure ole Jayber's up to today?

'Cause he
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this novel was like going through 365 pages of meditation practice.

I’d come from work, read a few pages (chapters aren’t long) and literally get lost in the life of Jayber Crow. His was what you’d call a normal life, but then, I believe all life stories can be as compelling and believable as this one if they’re told in the right way!

This is not a novel of “fireworks” and overly dramatic plot twists which (probably) means that lovers of fast paced stories will certainly get frustrated ab
What do I think of this book? I absolutely hated parts and other parts totally blew me over, the words were so perfect. The author IS an acclaimed poet. I was never indifferent to this book. Either I was furious or astounded by the quality of the writing. Should I give it one star for all the times I felt like dumping it immediately? I cannot give it two or three stars because they are lukewarm ratings. I was never lukewarm to this book. Yes, I liked it a lot, four stars it is. I will explain wh ...more
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jayber Crow is an orphan twice over who ends up in an orphanage at age ten. Though later he finds the means to get back to his hometown Port William and become the local barber (whose shop is a social hub), he ultimately chooses a more solitary peaceful life living in a borrowed cabin by the river. A fine story of small community life, the beauty of nature, unrequited love, and a life well lived. The best acclaim for one book is wanting to continue reading the author's work. Luckily there are ei ...more
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laysee by: Steve Sckenda

Jayber Crow is a beautifully written novel that has heart, soul, and spirit. I appreciated it most for the still center that was bound up in its narrator, Jayber Crow, a man given to solitude. The novel had a quiet appeal like the river that flowed through the fictional town of Port William in Kentucky where the story was set. It traced the life story of Jayber Crow and his relationship with the people in Port William. It was easy to be drawn into young Jayber’s storm-tossed life but it soon bec
I totally fell in love with Jayber, Wendell Berry and the place. Berry makes it feel so easy. Touches you from the very beginning and never lets up, but in a very soothing way. This is going on my favorites, it's that good.
Joy D
Life story of Jonah Crow, nicknamed Jayber, barber of the small farming community of Port William, Kentucky, from his birth in 1914 to his life in retirement. He is orphaned at an early age, briefly attends divinity school, and eventually makes his home above his barbershop. He remains a bachelor but cherishes a woman from afar. The narrative follows the intersecting lives of Jayber and the various residents of Port William.

This is a classic celebration of the pastoral life. It is critical of i
Diane Barnes
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Goodreads apparently chewed up my review, which was glowing, as I loved this one. Ģrrrr!
This may be one of my all-time favorite books. It reminds me of another beautiful book that I loved, Stoner, but unlike Stoner (which left me depressed and sad), Jayber Crow lifted me up. A wonderful line that to me sums up the book says, "There is a light that includes the darkness." And although Jayber Crow contains many sad things, there is a light that shines through it and keeps it from overcoming the light (to paraphrase the gospel John).

Jayber Crow lives, by many standards, a difficult li
Nov 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
For me, reading this book was all about the time and setting, and not so much a connection with any of the characters. As soon as I started to develop a connection with a character, the story would meander once more. I didn’t necessarily mind that. There are many books that I have loved that are not character and story driven. I also enjoyed going back to a simpler time in rural Americana. The writing was beautiful, but it was probably towards the last third of the book that I felt that much of ...more
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read. Others have said it better, but Wendell Berry is a talented writer and this is an excellent book. Very few authors can set this cultured, neatly mannered tone holding a core of good intent by the narrator- for so long and in such context of depth to issues and places that clearly don't always hold the manners and nuance of the telling ability. Yet it is often in a near dialect rhythm / connotation etc. Jayber himself is memorable. Completely!

Barbers and beauty parlor stylists- most
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Wendell Berry is a conservationist, farmer, essayist, novelist, professor of English and poet. He was born August 5, 1934 in Henry County, Kentucky where he now lives on a farm. The New York Times has called Berry the "prophet of rural America."

Other books in the series

Port William (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Nathan Coulter
  • The Memory of Old Jack
  • The Wild Birds: Six Stories of the Port William Membership
  • Remembering
  • Two More Stories of the Port William Membership
  • Andy Catlett: Early Travels
  • A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership
  • A World Lost
  • The Great Interruption: The Story of a Famous Story of Old Port William and How It Ceased To Be Told (1935-1978)
  • Port William Novels & Stories (The Civil War to World War II): Nathan Coulter / Andy Catlett: Early Travels / A World Lost / A Place on Earth / Stories

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