Erling Kagge may be the ultimate challenge-seeker. According to the book’s jacket, Kagge is the first man to have completed the Three Poles Challenge on foot—the North Pole, the South Pole, and the summit of Mount Everest. Wow! I would submit that his greatest challenge however, was the decision to write a book about silence.
He obviously experienced a lot of silence when he trekked across Antarctica alone for 50 days. But this isn’t a book about the exploration of remote places. This is a book about the silence within, the kind of silence that is found on a crowded subway or a barren mountaintop. In fact, according to Kagge, you have to find it on the crowded subway. That is life. And that is when you need it most.
I completely agree. I lived in China for nine years. Having grown up in a small town in rural America and lived most of my adult life in a house that sat a few thousand meters from its nearest neighbor, I moved to Beijing, a city of 22 million, where personal space is, by necessity, simply non-existent. If you can’t get used to the idea of your face being mere inches away from the face of the stranger standing next to you on a crowded subway, you won’t survive.
Looking back, however, learning to live without personal space was more a process of personal liberation than an accommodation to my new reality. Never in my sixty-three years have I learned more about myself or become more comfortable in my own skin.
The book is a chronicle of philosophy on the topic of silence. But rather than just summarizing that discussion, Kagge applies it to everything from exploring the underground world of New York City to the appreciation of art and music.
Which is pretty bold, when you think about it. He could sell a lot of books merely sharing some of his unusual and exotic tales of adventure. But he doesn’t do that here. He is wagering this book on his ability to share himself at the most intimate level.
And I think he is successful. This is a very good book by a very intriguing individual. Silence, as Kagge points out, is all about listening-to self, the people you love, and the world around you. That’s where you find joy and purpose.
- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Viking; 1 edition (2 October 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780241309872
- ISBN-13: 978-0241309872
- ASIN: 0241309875
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.3 x 18.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 322 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)