Wayfaring: Essays Pleasant and Unpleasant
By: Alan Jacobs
Eerdmans (June 28, 2010)
Wayfaring is a delightful collection of essays by professor Alan Jacobs. He touches on everything from Harry Potter, to trees, to friendship, the efficacy of Christian community, and writing poetry. I particularly enjoyed his defense of the popular “penny dreadful” genre. Do not miss Jacobs’ other books. The ones I have read so far include How To Think, The Pleasure of Reading In An Age Of Distraction, and The Year Of Our Lord 1943.
Two of my favorite quotes:
Of all the many virtues of the essay as a form, it seems to be that the most wonderful of them is exhibited here. It is what I have elsewhere called a humble mutability of tone, a willingness to acknowledge and accept the vagaries of the mind, with its habit of following its own pathways in serene disregard of what we would have it do. Lamb may have meant to write a comical bagatelle; his mind, it turned out, contained a store of memories that would not confine themselves to the mood in which he began.
I HAVE COME late to the knowledge of trees, and while I would like to think that I have loved them all my life, that’s probably not really true. Had I loved them all along I would know more about them by now. The most enlightening and attractive writers about trees seem to have been lifelong aficionados -one book I recently read begins, “Having been partly arboreal since the age of eight, I . . .” -and the ease with which they describe their old friends shames me a bit. Reading them, I feel much the same envy I feel when watching an experienced skater flow across an iced-over pond.