Books · Review

Phoning Home: Essays

Phoning Home: Essays by Jacob M. Appel. 177 pages

Rate: 3.5/5

GoodReads & LibraryThing accounts

I won a copy of this book through LibraryThing Member Giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

Phoning Home: Essays is a book written by Jacob M. Appel, an american author, poet, bioethicist, physician, lawyer and social critic. This book is divided in thirteen essays where he shares his childhood memories – and how it might or might not have impacted on today’s personality -, his family stories and Jewish heritage and discuss multiple topics such as life and death, Alzheimer and more that you’ll find during the reading.

When I started reading the two first essays – Phoning Home and Two Cats, Fat & Thin – I felt immediately interested, entertained and even related in some ways. Overall the essays were great, after reading it, I felt like a knew the person behind the book, as if in sometime of my life I’ve meet him and knew a bit of his personal and professional life. But some where quite boring and difficult to read and have my full attention, thankfully there were more good ones than just “OK” ones.

For a person that rarely shows interest in essays, I’m glad I’ve read it and I’m interested in more of the author’s work. I recommend to read this collection.

Favorite quotes:

“I am now thirty-two years old, and, for better or worse, people
consistently turn to me when they want to share their secrets.
Sometimes I flatter myself into believing that this reflects
esteem for my discretion and empathy—or a misplaced confidence
that as a writer I am somehow above the fray of judgment.”

“Each of these memories,
discrete droplets, suggests happiness. Or at least joy. For
my parents were the sort of people who sought joy, not the
type who contemplated happiness.”

“Confessions, after all, are fundamentally selfish.”

“That is the horror of the past: that it is so expansive, and remote, and each day it expands exponentially, tearing through the emotional threads that bind it to the present.”

“We can speak figuratively about sudden death, trivialize it—even joke about it—because we do not actually expect to confront it. Not now, not soon, not until we’ve been afforded ample time to prepare. And, with each new medical innovation, the odds are more likely that we won’t.”

“I fear the most subtle, yet most pernicious, consequence of a world in which people do not as often die suddenly is a world in which people do not appreciate life.”

“What renders us human is the ability to bond, to love, to feel loss, long after all our other faculties have evaporated. We are desperately social animals, even in twilight.”

“The truth of the matter was that we weren’t treating Mr. Nimble at all. We were treating ourselves. We’d stumbled upon an ingenious, somewhat illogical way to convince ourselves that we had done something tangible to improve the life of an old man who didn’t want our help in the first place.”

“The most dangerous ideas are not those that challenge the status quo. The most dangerous ideas are those so embedded in the status quo, so wrapped in a cloud of inevitability, that we forget they are ideas at all. When we forget that the underpinning of our society are conscious choices, we become woefully unable to challenge those choices. We also become ill equipped to defend them.”

Thanks to Jacob M. Appel for sending me a e-book in LibraryThing.


Thank you for reading and…

See you in the next post!

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14 thoughts on “Phoning Home: Essays

  1. “Confessions, afterall, are inherently selfish.”

    Wow. That quote really sticks with me today. I will be picking up this book of essays next time I am at the library, sounds like something I need to read! Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “The most dangerous ideas are not those that challenge the status quo…so true! I’ve never read a book of essays but I may have to give this a go.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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