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Breaking Bread with the Dead

Best Seller
Breaking Bread with the Dead by Alan Jacobs
Paperback $16.00
Sep 07, 2021 | ISBN 9781984878427

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  • Sep 07, 2021 | ISBN 9781984878427

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  • Sep 08, 2020 | ISBN 9781984878403

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Praise

“Jacobs is a proponent of difference and distance as a means of increasing perspective . . . when we pick up an old book, we know that ‘another human being from another world has spoken to us.’ That sense of appreciation may well be applied to the work of all writers, living and dead. There are many worlds, past and present, from which another may speak.” —John Glassie, The Washington Post

“Alan Jacobs’s Breaking Bread With the Dead should be on everyone’s reading list in these times of what a friend of mine calls ‘disagreement-phobia’ on all sides in politics and life. Jacobs thoughtfully discusses the benefits of reading long-dead authors—even though Edith Wharton was an anti-Semite and David Hume a racist. In this way we practise encountering minds different, and sometimes objectionable, to our own, and find the good, useful and beautiful admixed with the difficult and repulsive. Right and left, young and old, we need this skill more than ever now.” —Naomi Alderman, The Spectator

“Jacobs marshals an impressive body of evidence from writers as diverse as Horace and Zadie Smith to craft his argument for sympathetic engagement with sources whose ideas may seem strange, or even repulsive . . . At a time when many Americans, compelled by tragic events to confront a legacy of racism, are engaged in deep reflection about the meaning of the nation’s history [this] is an exceptionally useful companion for those who want to do so with honesty and integrity.” Shelf Awareness

“The ideas are stimulating . . . [they] will give thoughtful readers a jumping-off point for further reflection.” Publishers Weekly

Breaking Bread with the Dead is concerned with the challenge, and personal benefit, of connecting with authors far from our own experience . . . Through a combination of examples and theoretical exposition, Jacobs argues that by engaging responsibly with long gone authors, we allow their voices to teach us . . . Jacobs is especially aware of the challenge of texts that don’t match our prejudices: We need not demonize them, nor relinquish our convictions, but should simply work to seek community with past thinkers. Our ‘personal density’ is a matter of experiencing shared membership, across time and place, with other parts of humanity.” —Joshua P. Hochschild, First Things

“Alan Jacobs has given us a toolbox stocked with concepts that balance the pop of a self-help book with the depth of a college seminar. Breaking Bread With the Dead is an invitation, but even more than that, an emancipation: from the buzzing prison of the here and now, into the wide-open field of the past.” —Robin Sloan, author of Sourdough

“A provocative self-help book that challenges conventional wisdom about why we read and where it can bring us. We are distracted and today our reading, from link to link, has left us light. We need engagement and most of all, we need the grounding and weight from knowing our past. This elegant book moved me, especially when it led me to rethink time with my mentors and how they taught me, to paraphrase Wordsworth, what to love and how to love. On so many pages, I found things I know I will carry forward.” —Sherry Turkle, Professor of Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, best-selling author of Reclaiming Conversation and Alone Together

“Alan Jacobs captures the nervous joy of helping students discover that writers of ‘the long ago and far away’ can mitigate the feeling of unmoored loneliness that afflicts so many young people today. Never scolding or didactic, Breaking Bread with the Dead is a compassionate book about the saving power of reading, and a moving account of how writers of the past can help us cope in the frantic present.” —Andrew Delbanco, author of The War Before the War

“A beautiful case for reading old books as a way to cultivate personal depth in shallow times. Breaking Bread with the Dead is timely and timeless—the perfect ending to the trilogy Alan Jacobs began with The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction and continued with How To Think. I’ve stolen so much from these books. So will you.” —Austin Kleon, bestselling author of Steal Like An Artist

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