Tag Archives: essay

Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind by Alan Jacobs

This essay makes a fascinating observation of how we as people view the past and how it affects our present and future. The author argues that unless we broaden our reading to authors we might reject based on problematic content, we may miss learning some key things about ourselves, community, and humanity as a whole. This book is timely with all the banned book conversations going on.

He starts by the very accurate observation of information triage. The idea is that we get so much stimulation and consume so much information with the internet and content that is available at our fingertips, so when we have to make quick decisions on what to consume and what to reject. But in those rejections, we are missing out on valuable wisdom because of historical content that would be problematic today or not being able to fully relate to the author for one reason or another.

While the information was interesting, I had a hard time focusing and reading his writing. It wasn’t dry necessarily; he does bring humor into his writing, but it felt a little over explained for me. Perhaps that is part of the point he is trying to make, that we all just want to get the highlights because there is so much information to process.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading classics that might want to broaden their reading list. It definitely challenges readers to sit in the tension of books and writing they may not completely agree with.

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