Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Jayber Crow” as Want to Read:
Jayber Crow
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Jayber Crow

(Port William)

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  9,828 ratings  ·  1,487 reviews
"This is a book about Heaven," says Jayber Crow, "but I must say too that . . . I have wondered sometimes if it would not finally turn out to be a book about Hell." It is 1932 and he has returned to his native Port William to become the town's barber.

Orphaned at age ten, Jayber Crow's acquaintance with loneliness and want have made him a patient observer of the human
...more
Paperback, 363 pages
Published August 30th 2001 by Counterpoint LLC (first published September 5th 2000)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,828 ratings  ·  1,487 reviews


Sort order
Start your review of Jayber Crow
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
...more
Cecily
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
...more
Dolors
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: May the song of good hope walk with you through everything
Shelves: read-in-2016, dost
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.

I
...more
Candi
"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. I read this while on a much-needed family vacation, which incidentally also happened to be my twenty year anniversary to one of the most honorable men I have had the
...more
Sue
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 ...more
Fionnuala
Sep 07, 2012 added it
Shelves: place
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 had 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', with such as MacLeod, McGahern,
...more
Gloria
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 5-- even though it deserves 6 or 7. Beautiful,
...more
Margitte
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
...more
PattyMacDotComma
4.5

“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
...more
Cheri
”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
...more
Sara
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.

...more
Esteban del Mal
Apr 14, 2011 added it
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
...more
Michael
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Kj
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
...more
Cathrine ☯️
5
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
...more
``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
...more
Chrissie
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Melki
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
...more
Camie
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Laura
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
Laysee
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Diane Barnes
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Goodreads apparently chewed up my review, which was glowing, as I loved this one. Ģrrrr!
Negin
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
Ellie
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Jeanette
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
...more
Whiskey
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: soul-mates
When I first read "The Life Story of Jayber Crow, Barber, of the Port William Membership, as Written by Himself," I was thankful that I was not Jayber. In between readings, I proclaimed that I would never become Jayber, but I secretly wondered if I already was. After my second reading, I soothed myself by understanding that perhaps being Jayber wasn't so bad. He knew his place on the true side of The River in Port William, Kentucky, but it was more elevated than even he perceived. His was a life ...more
Steve Haywood
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
This is the very honest life story of one Jayber Crow, told by him in a rather wonderful first person narrative. It's also the story of the small - and fictional - town of Port William in Kentucky. It's set in the twentieth century, from the 1930s until the 1970s (I think, although the it's not made clear towards the end of the book. Jayber Crow from a relatively young age becomes - doubly - an orphan and ends up in a board school institution. This influences the rest of his life, as he wants to ...more
Sylvester
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I only know of Wendell Berry through Goodreads. I thought"Jayber Crow" might be something I'd like - and it was, although I really dislike most of the reviews of it. (Someone out there is teaching Wendell Berry classes, apparently, and making him tedious in the process.) For me, this book was about the river. Very strongly a book about place and an individual life as a reaction to or an element of it. Really, Jayber Crow's life is exactly like the river.

"I can't look back on my life from where I
...more
Gretchen Rubin
I'd read essays by Wendell Berry, but I'd somehow never read the novels. Then a friend recommended "Jayber Crow," so I decided to read it myself. I loved it. I love character development, and this is the fascinating study of a character unfolding over time. Beautiful moments. A great study, too, of the change of community life after World War II. This would be a great book for book-club discussion -- much to talk about.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Belmont Book Finders: I found Jayber Crow 1 8 Nov 21, 2016 05:37AM  
Considering a trip to Port William 2 27 Sep 30, 2015 07:38AM  
La Stamberga dei ...: Diario di lettura: Jayber Crow di Wendell Berry 1 4 Nov 16, 2014 11:29AM  
JAYBER CROW 5 95 Sep 19, 2013 01:15PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: Jayber Crow 1 3 Aug 11, 2013 11:23AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Rector of Justin
  • For the Children's Sake
  • Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life
  • On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books
  • Gilead (Gilead, #1)
  • Know and Tell: The Art of Narration
  • Home (Gilead, #2)
  • The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction
  • A Circle of Quiet (Crosswicks Journals #1)
  • Girls' Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World
  • Crossing to Safety
  • Peace Like a River
  • Mere Motherhood: Morning times, nursery rhymes, and my journey toward sanctification
  • I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life
  • The River
  • In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World
  • The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days
  • Lila (Gilead, #3)
See similar books…
2,209 followers
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
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Telling a story is like reaching into a granary full of wheat and drawing out a handful. There is always more to tell than can be told.” 517 likes
“I don't believe that grief passes away. It has its time and place forever. More time is added to it; it becomes a story within a story. But grief and griever alike endure.” 183 likes
More quotes…