Reviews of The Whole Five Feet

“ ‘In much wisdom is much grief,’ counsels the book of Ecclesiastes, and in Christopher R. Beha’s tender intellectual memoir, we find plenty of both. . . . Life intruded rudely on Beha’s sabbatical, and he rose to the occasion by writing an unexpected narrative that deftly reconciles lofty thoughts and earthy pain. In doing so, he makes an elegant case for literature as an everyday companion no less valuable than the iPod.”

“Winning . . . Intensely felt . . . Beha is shtick-free and serious of mind . . . Without making grandiose claims, this book serves as a guide to today’s perplexed, reflexively ironic reader, an inducement to think seriously without apologizing and feel deeply without hedging. . . . It demonstrates how and why to read seriously.”

“An elegant and honest memoir… a charming addition to the literature of books about books. Beha is a clear-sighted writer, who has accomplished exactly what Eliot would have wanted: He found repose and strength of mind in those who express things more elegantly than we, in our Twittering, blog-filled age, ever can.”

“Disarming . . . Beha’s utter humility and unpretentious tone while describing an inherently academic and potentially irrelevant goal—to read a jumble of old-timey books and essays—puts the reader immediately at ease. Beha has a nice, unaffected way of including his internal monologues and the lessons he learns over the course of the year, as he struggles with his need to connect with the past and get perspective on his life. . . . What starts out as a mission to keep from being lost, adrift and alone in his sickness, ends with Beha finding solace. The Whole Five Feet reads like a charming college syllabus, written by a warm-hearted professor, who through a mutual love of books has inexplicably become one of your closest friends and confidants.”


“[In the Harvard Classics, Beha] finds comfort in the fact that these writers faced the same dilemmas, pains and sources of hope he finds today. The result is a thought-provoking, tender, compelling read that is part memoir, part ode to the power of great books.”



  • No categories