book review: crossing the unknown sea

Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of IdentityCrossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity by David Whyte
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Non-spoiler summary in one sentence: What makes work wonderful and how do we capture that elusive wonderment in our day-to-day lives?

Initial thoughts: I got this book years ago after finishing (and loving) a book of Whyte’s poetry. I had high hopes for it, having started it shortly after college graduation when I felt in desperate need of advice about work.

Genre(s) IMHO: Nonfiction, self help, poetry, literary, philosophy

Writing style: Poetic while also ‘on the nose’ of the topic at hand, which can be difficult for a poet to achieve. Mostly the style was a joy to read but sometimes it was easy to fall asleep to if I’d read too much of it in one stretch.

Conclusion: It took me years to finish this book because it is so PACKED with insightful, inspiring commentary on the concept of work. I would read a chapter then take a few weeks or a month to finish mentally processing all that chapter had to offer me. It’s not specific to one field, which is one of the things that makes it such a powerful tool for any reader. It’s definitely not a book I’d borrow from the library or swap away. It’s got a permanent place on my bookshelf. I recommend you buy it as well as page flags and a highlighter. I find myself flipping back to folded over pages and skimming forward to highlighted passages. It’s just the kind of book you remember loving and one day pick up again to remember why. I’d urge anyone who’s on the fence about this one to take the plunge.

descriptiondescriptiondescriptiondescriptiondescriptionfor Crossing the Unknown Sea Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity.


*** Rebecca N. McKinnon’s Rating System Key ***

description – ‘Did not like it’ means I probably didn’t finish it and I definitely would not recommend, own, or re-read
descriptiondescription – ‘It was ok’ means I probably finished it but would not recommend, own, or re-read
descriptiondescriptiondescription – ‘Liked it’ means I finished it and might recommend it to some but not all people. I would not own it or re-read it.
descriptiondescriptiondescriptiondescription – ‘Really liked it’ means I finished it and would recommend it but only after my 5 star favorites. I would not own it or re-read it.
descriptiondescriptiondescriptiondescriptiondescription – ‘It was amazing’ means I finished it, would recommend it, own it, and re-read it.

Author Bio:
David Whyte

– Born across the pond and heavily influenced by his mother’s Irish heritage
– He graduated with a degree in Marine zoology from Bangor University
– He’s written a few nonfiction books in the same vein (The Three Marriages Reimagining Work Self and Relationship and The Heart Aroused Poetry and the Preservation of Self in Corporate America) and seven volumes of themed

View all my reviews

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