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Summary

A follow up to Pico Iyer's essay "The Joy of Quiet," The Art of Stillness considers the unexpected adventure of staying put and reveals a counterintuitive truth: The more ways we have to connect, the more we seem desperate to unplug.

Why would a man who seems able to go everywhere and do anything - like the international heartthrob and Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer Leonard Cohen - choose to spend years sitting still and going nowhere? What can Nowhere offer that no Anywhere can match? And why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer, who has journeyed from Easter Island to Ethiopia, Cuba to Kathmandu, think that sitting quietly in a room and getting to know the seasons and landscapes of Nowhere might be the ultimate adventure?

In The Art of Stillness, Iyer draws on the lives of well-known wanderer-monks like Cohen - as well as from his own experiences as a travel writer who chooses to spend most of his time in rural Japan - to explore why advances in technology are making us more likely to retreat. Iyer reflects that this is perhaps the reason why many people - even those with no religious commitment - seem to be turning to yoga, or meditation, or tai chi. These aren't New Age fads so much as ways to rediscover the wisdom of an earlier age. There is even a growing trend toward observing an "Internet sabbath" every week, turning off online connections from Friday night to Monday morning and reviving those ancient customs known as family meals and conversation.

In this age of constant movement and connectedness, perhaps staying in one place is a more exciting prospect, and a greater necessity than ever before. The Art of Stillness paints a picture of why so many have found richness in stillness and what - from Marcel Proust to Blaise Pascal to Phillipe Starck - they’ve gained there.

©2014 Pico Iyer. All rights reserved. (P)2014 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • 04-12-16

Fine as far as it goes

Basically a long magazine article based on a TED Talk. He’s a fine writer and I liked the book, but he’s just conveying other people’s thoughts on the importance of taking a break from modern busyness. And I wish his anecdotes about Leonard Cohen had more substance. Grade: B

As for the narration, he's also just fine. Soft spoken, could be getter.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Casey Miller
  • 21-07-16

A book everyone should experience

I have listened to this book again and again. I never tire of the very poignant message, or Pico Ayers' words and voice. I recommend it to anyone and everyone for the need to slow down, and be still with oneself is both universal and vital to our health of mind, body, and spirit.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Yuen May
  • 23-03-16

Staying Still Whilst Listening.

I adored this. 😊 It was like having a relaxing yet stimulating tea session with Pico Iyer.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Lori from Utah
  • 23-08-15

Love this book

Enjoy silence. It can be fleeting especially in our world. I love the permission this book gives me to sit still. Especially in a world which wears a frenzied pace like a badge of honor. I recommend this book to patients that suffer from anxiety.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • D D
  • 14-02-18

A must read or listen. As a Mom, a wife and a Professional.

Excellent . Simple, yet powerful. I've traveled the world and am grateful I have. It's nice to learn I can have the same joy and appreciation for life in stillness.

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  • Tyler
  • 14-01-18

Nothing Special

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

There is nothing unique about this book. There are hundreds of books about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, and presumably if you are buying this you are already aware of those benefits. There is nothing in this that hasn't already been published in hundreds of other books, and no practical advice at all. The only other content in here is basically an album review for Leonard Cohen. Why did I just pay for an album review? Save your money or credits. There's nothing practical in here, just the same old studies about how beneficial mindfulness practice is, and then a huge chunk about how great Leonard Cohen and his new album are.

Has The Art of Stillness turned you off from other books in this genre?

no

What character would you cut from The Art of Stillness?

Leonard Cohen

Any additional comments?

Very Dissapointing

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  • Liza Bell
  • 29-12-17

Explain to me the unexplainable

What did you love best about The Art of Stillness?

There is nothing so understandable as quiet...as silelnce...as stillness. Yet we cant really fathom what we experience. There are no words that do it justice. Words are finite. Silence is infinitely spacious.

Pico opens the window for us to walk into and then out of. .He has learnes as have many others for centuries the Art of Stillness.
If we slow down long enough to catch up with our self, we enter a depthless depth that has always been there waiting. If we allow ourselves to be there with out trying to make something happen, we get in touch with an innate gift; one that we can carry with us and gift to others simply by being present.

We keep searching outward for what is within us. We ache for what is already there. interestingly enough...we tactually avoid it.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I so loved the Leonard Cohen story. No better example of the fruits of stillness.

Any additional comments?

Check out Pico Iyer on Ted talks. He is a joy.

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  • Douglas Polk
  • 23-10-17

Have run across Iyers’s Chapels essay

This is a nice follow up to his Chapel’s essay. I listen to this during my evening walk - have to slow down and resist the urge to grab a pen and paper to make notes. Need to let this steep like a nice tea.

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  • SYL
  • 15-06-17

One of the most calming book to listen.

Every time I feel frantic, listening to this book grounds me. Thank you for amazingly simple, yet vivid description of what matters.

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  • SAUMYA VINOD JOSHI
  • 13-01-17

Bang on!

An exceptionally well written and well read book! Pico brings out the distractibility of the present day human as a real threat to happiness and suggests some very practical suggestions on how to unwind. This might be the starting point of a whole new era of redefining well being by looking inwards. Extra points for the poetic language and an equally emotive narration. A treat for the listener!