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The Ragged Edge of Silence: Finding Peace in a Noisy World

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By the author of Planetwalker, The Ragged Edge of Silence takes us to another level of appreciating, through silence, the beauty of the planet and our place in it. John Francis's real and compelling prose forms a tapestry of questions and answers woven from interviews, stories, personal experience, science, and the power of silence through history, including practice by Na By the author of Planetwalker, The Ragged Edge of Silence takes us to another level of appreciating, through silence, the beauty of the planet and our place in it. John Francis's real and compelling prose forms a tapestry of questions and answers woven from interviews, stories, personal experience, science, and the power of silence through history, including practice by Native American, Hindu, and Buddhist cultures. Through their time-honored traditions and his own experience of communicating silently for 17 years, Francis's practical exercises lay the groundwork for the reader to build constructive silence into everyday life: to learn more about oneself, to set goals and accomplish dreams, to build strong relationships, and to appreciate and be a steward of the Earth. With its amazing human interest element and first-person expertise, this book is energizing and universally instructive.


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By the author of Planetwalker, The Ragged Edge of Silence takes us to another level of appreciating, through silence, the beauty of the planet and our place in it. John Francis's real and compelling prose forms a tapestry of questions and answers woven from interviews, stories, personal experience, science, and the power of silence through history, including practice by Na By the author of Planetwalker, The Ragged Edge of Silence takes us to another level of appreciating, through silence, the beauty of the planet and our place in it. John Francis's real and compelling prose forms a tapestry of questions and answers woven from interviews, stories, personal experience, science, and the power of silence through history, including practice by Native American, Hindu, and Buddhist cultures. Through their time-honored traditions and his own experience of communicating silently for 17 years, Francis's practical exercises lay the groundwork for the reader to build constructive silence into everyday life: to learn more about oneself, to set goals and accomplish dreams, to build strong relationships, and to appreciate and be a steward of the Earth. With its amazing human interest element and first-person expertise, this book is energizing and universally instructive.

30 review for The Ragged Edge of Silence: Finding Peace in a Noisy World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    I like silence. I like nature. I like fleeing the madding crowd. I also expected this book would be all about that. It's not. It's all about the author. John Francis, in response to an oil spill, gave up transportation and became a walking man. He also gave up speech. This book is mostly about his justification of that. Superior? A bit. Smug? We're on the ragged edge of same. And though there is some of what you might expect in a book on the value of silence, you might find yourself distracted b I like silence. I like nature. I like fleeing the madding crowd. I also expected this book would be all about that. It's not. It's all about the author. John Francis, in response to an oil spill, gave up transportation and became a walking man. He also gave up speech. This book is mostly about his justification of that. Superior? A bit. Smug? We're on the ragged edge of same. And though there is some of what you might expect in a book on the value of silence, you might find yourself distracted by Francis's LOUD personality, which seems to shout, "Look at me! I'm not talking and only I understand the beauty of same! If you read this and agree, cool. If not, you're one of them. But I understand (pats our backs). That's why I'm 'talking' in this book for you to buy. Being a voluntary mute ain't cheap!" OK, so I exaggerate. This was not what I expected. My problem, I'm sure (and I don't even talk a lot and am not terribly social, so there).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    There is no doubt that John Francis was an adventurous guy. Silence for 17 years, and walking only takes dedication. But I came to this book with some expectations about "Finding Peace", and I failed to find what I was looking for. This book has some excerpts and stories from the Planetwalker book he also authored, and which I also read. Unfortunately the excerpts do not really flow together and the context among excerpts was muddy. Sometimes I felt I was re-reading the first book. More editing There is no doubt that John Francis was an adventurous guy. Silence for 17 years, and walking only takes dedication. But I came to this book with some expectations about "Finding Peace", and I failed to find what I was looking for. This book has some excerpts and stories from the Planetwalker book he also authored, and which I also read. Unfortunately the excerpts do not really flow together and the context among excerpts was muddy. Sometimes I felt I was re-reading the first book. More editing would have been helpful to avoid such claims as "walked the length of South America." What does that mean - did he walk in South America? Or a distance in the USA equivalent to the length? What is the length? Lastly, the phrase 'the ragged edge of silence' is an excellent phrase, and it was used more than a few times in the book, but it was never really defined consistently. The phrase is a concept that was not fully developed or explored.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    As a Quaker I was really interested in reading this exploration of silence, but the author's tone was, well, smug - something I would not have expected from a book of this nature. The author was more interested in telling us about his silence and his refusal to ride in cars than he was in really exploring silence as a means of communication for both him and others and how to find silence (or peace) in daily life. The "exercises" weren't always connected to the content of each chapter, which woul As a Quaker I was really interested in reading this exploration of silence, but the author's tone was, well, smug - something I would not have expected from a book of this nature. The author was more interested in telling us about his silence and his refusal to ride in cars than he was in really exploring silence as a means of communication for both him and others and how to find silence (or peace) in daily life. The "exercises" weren't always connected to the content of each chapter, which would have seemed appropriate; sometimes they appeared to be haphazardly added because the chapter needed an exercise. ARC provided by publisher.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ning

    While reading the excerpt of the book, my first impression of John Francis was an extreme man who took the vow of silence. Though I was not proven wrong while reading the book, I gained a better understanding of his reasons for doing so, his thought processes and interactions with various people along the way. Perhaps when I first started reading, the lessons I gained were more highlighted and clear, but as I progressed along I realised that there were many subtle takeaways that changed or reaffi While reading the excerpt of the book, my first impression of John Francis was an extreme man who took the vow of silence. Though I was not proven wrong while reading the book, I gained a better understanding of his reasons for doing so, his thought processes and interactions with various people along the way. Perhaps when I first started reading, the lessons I gained were more highlighted and clear, but as I progressed along I realised that there were many subtle takeaways that changed or reaffirmed my perspectives. The title and main idea were on Silence, but yet Francis had touched on areas such as connecting with others on a heart-to-heart level, visions and dreams, and self-expression and organisation. All these, are important perspectives and experiences that had helped me reflect upon myself, and how they were relevant in my own life.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I have mixed feelings on this book. On one hand he has some interesting thoughts on silence but on the other, the book isn't what I expected and more about the author. In some ways I think it was supposed to be about him and the title makes it seem otherwise. He comes across as arrogant sometimes or doing it partly for the attention. In one part of the book, he does admit his motives at first were not always purely for helping the environment but he did grow apparently through the silence. I do I have mixed feelings on this book. On one hand he has some interesting thoughts on silence but on the other, the book isn't what I expected and more about the author. In some ways I think it was supposed to be about him and the title makes it seem otherwise. He comes across as arrogant sometimes or doing it partly for the attention. In one part of the book, he does admit his motives at first were not always purely for helping the environment but he did grow apparently through the silence. I do admire his dedication but I also think that he could have done more good if he was able to communicate by talking and not being in complete silence. Listening more is important for sure but complete silence for years is (i feel) not good. Obviously he has a ton to say by writing a book. Lol

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mary Nuttelman

    One man's interesting and thought provoking journey. One man's interesting and thought provoking journey.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Bewitz

    Great TED talk available as well.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sherri

    A fascinating journey, decently told. I think Francis wanted to focus this book more on his vision quest rather than have it be a traditional memoir--this choice, alas, made the narrative arc tough to follow. Key biographical details and events would crop up unexpectedly, often mentioned in an offhand "you already know this" tone when, instead, the information was jarringly new or unexpected. (I will admit to a few moments where this technique worked quite well to illuminate my assumptive leaps A fascinating journey, decently told. I think Francis wanted to focus this book more on his vision quest rather than have it be a traditional memoir--this choice, alas, made the narrative arc tough to follow. Key biographical details and events would crop up unexpectedly, often mentioned in an offhand "you already know this" tone when, instead, the information was jarringly new or unexpected. (I will admit to a few moments where this technique worked quite well to illuminate my assumptive leaps and where they had gone wrong...) Also, I found the end-of-chapter exercises to be a well-intentioned but unconvincing attempt to bring the lessons of Francis' 17-year silence to plain old folks like me. Everything in the telling suggests that the profundity of Francis' experience was rooted in the extreme nature of his path and his commitment to walking and to silence. I freely admit there are things we can learn from his journey to find deeper wells of compassion, empathy and active listening in our own selves and lives. But the attempts of the extreme practitioner to dish up these amuse-bouche-sized exercises just rang so false.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tom Burke

    What an interesting life. What an interesting book. I first heard about this book on a podcast and was intrigued by the author's story. In the early 70s he decided to give up riding in motorized vehicles after witnessing an oil spill in the San Francisco Bay. A few years later he doubled down and decided to stop talking as well. All walk no talk went on for 23 and 17 years respectively. And this book tells the story. I didn't hang on every word and there were some parts that were less interesting What an interesting life. What an interesting book. I first heard about this book on a podcast and was intrigued by the author's story. In the early 70s he decided to give up riding in motorized vehicles after witnessing an oil spill in the San Francisco Bay. A few years later he doubled down and decided to stop talking as well. All walk no talk went on for 23 and 17 years respectively. And this book tells the story. I didn't hang on every word and there were some parts that were less interesting, but this book did change my outlook on life, for now anyway. He makes some great points about listening and inner peace. It comes complete with little exercises at the end of each chapter in silence and listening. The ragged edge sounds like a great place to find yourself and make your peace. Wouldn't it be nice if we all could go there?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paula Dembeck

    After witnessing the devastating effects of a 1971 oil spill in San Francisco Bay, Francis embarked on a period of reflection that stretched into 17 years of self imposed silence and 22 years of walking. Through this journey he was able to harness the incredible power of silence. In this book he invites readers to turn down the chatter in our everyday life to arrive at a new appreciation of our planet and our place in it. His own inner and outer journey of self discovery is used as the framework After witnessing the devastating effects of a 1971 oil spill in San Francisco Bay, Francis embarked on a period of reflection that stretched into 17 years of self imposed silence and 22 years of walking. Through this journey he was able to harness the incredible power of silence. In this book he invites readers to turn down the chatter in our everyday life to arrive at a new appreciation of our planet and our place in it. His own inner and outer journey of self discovery is used as the framework of the book. He also provides readers with exercises to help build constructive silence into everyday life. Well done, but the self imposed silence seemed a little over the top at times. I agree there is too much noise and chatter, but complete silence seems to be another extreme.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Suzan

    Loved this book. Loved the ideas and loved hearing about his experiences. The book itself was a bit disjoint and a little less than I had hoped for more of an insight into his spiritual growth but I think the concepts, revelations, and ideas make it well worth the read. So saddened to read just a few days ago of the death of the father walking across the country to educate people about bullying after his son killed himself after being bullied because of being gay. This event made the story of Fr Loved this book. Loved the ideas and loved hearing about his experiences. The book itself was a bit disjoint and a little less than I had hoped for more of an insight into his spiritual growth but I think the concepts, revelations, and ideas make it well worth the read. So saddened to read just a few days ago of the death of the father walking across the country to educate people about bullying after his son killed himself after being bullied because of being gay. This event made the story of Francis' life and travels all the more impacting. Both men were on an incredible journey, sadly one did not live to finish his walk. This book did encourage me to be silent and more present, more often...for that, I give it stars!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Garcia

    enjoyed John's second book about his experiences during and since his many years of walking and not talking. i'm reminded that we are a world of talkers who rarely listen for longer than mere moments. and I loved the message of this book, his life, which seems to say to me, listen to what calls to you, follow, worlds of experience will open to you that you had no way to seeing, that your decision to commit will make possible. a quiet, thoughtful read written by a person who is committed to makin enjoyed John's second book about his experiences during and since his many years of walking and not talking. i'm reminded that we are a world of talkers who rarely listen for longer than mere moments. and I loved the message of this book, his life, which seems to say to me, listen to what calls to you, follow, worlds of experience will open to you that you had no way to seeing, that your decision to commit will make possible. a quiet, thoughtful read written by a person who is committed to making our world a saner, healthier, happier place and that if we heal ourselves we will also know how to heal the planet and vice versa. it's all connected. be still and quiet and slow enough to find our way thru a noisy and challenging world.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Woody

    A remarkable story about a man who chose not to speak or ride in motorized vehicles for 17 years. Instead, he walked and bicycled everywhere (including across the U.S. and south to the tip of South America), wrote, painted and played the banjo. His reasons for choosing this ascetic lifestyle were to minimize oil consumption and to avoid acrimonious encounters with people. A zen-like acceptance of life as it is and people as they are developed in this man, John Francis. He seems to project a kind A remarkable story about a man who chose not to speak or ride in motorized vehicles for 17 years. Instead, he walked and bicycled everywhere (including across the U.S. and south to the tip of South America), wrote, painted and played the banjo. His reasons for choosing this ascetic lifestyle were to minimize oil consumption and to avoid acrimonious encounters with people. A zen-like acceptance of life as it is and people as they are developed in this man, John Francis. He seems to project a kind, positive, accepting demeanor, which is commendable. And he correctly points out that listening has become a lost art.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Colette

    This book resonated with me in a deep way. Even though i'm no stranger to silence (four silent meditation retreats, seven to nine days long) I had never contemplated taking the practice of silence into daily life the way this man did. For years it has been my only New Year's resolution to become a better listener, and to talk less. I'm not sure I ever really carry through on this intention. The book has many exercises to practice along these lines. John Francis is on a truly extraordinary journe This book resonated with me in a deep way. Even though i'm no stranger to silence (four silent meditation retreats, seven to nine days long) I had never contemplated taking the practice of silence into daily life the way this man did. For years it has been my only New Year's resolution to become a better listener, and to talk less. I'm not sure I ever really carry through on this intention. The book has many exercises to practice along these lines. John Francis is on a truly extraordinary journey and it reads as revolutionary, rich with meaning. RECOMMEND.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David

    An interesting, compelling book. The author makes a strong case for silence, and it really made me think about listening, and if I was really listening to others, or just waiting to talk. The author seems to gloss over some parts of his life-how we walked thousands of miles, how he completed his education silently. He didn't really go through any of these challenges. Perhaps that is in his other book (it seems most people would have more problems walking a mile then the author did walking 500). An interesting, compelling book. The author makes a strong case for silence, and it really made me think about listening, and if I was really listening to others, or just waiting to talk. The author seems to gloss over some parts of his life-how we walked thousands of miles, how he completed his education silently. He didn't really go through any of these challenges. Perhaps that is in his other book (it seems most people would have more problems walking a mile then the author did walking 500).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Damon

    This book was very interesting and philisophical, but it was not what I was expecting. John Francis is a man who walked most of the USA, from San Francisco, to Washington DC and back, several times over. He walked for 20 years and he was silent for 17 of those years. It was a very philisophical book which focused mostly on the art of silence, but I was hoping that it would be more about his experiences walking the wilds, and the cities of America.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Riles

    This one goes on that shelf of special books that stand above the rest. Francis' thoughts on silence and listening, his walking, and his story about them resonates deeply with me. I like the exercises in each chapter and hope to try them out over time. This one goes on that shelf of special books that stand above the rest. Francis' thoughts on silence and listening, his walking, and his story about them resonates deeply with me. I like the exercises in each chapter and hope to try them out over time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Olga Jacobi

    Nothing short of fascinating, with life and personal lessons for anyone. Inspirational!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    I really wanted to like this book, but didn't - it never quite resonated with me. I really wanted to like this book, but didn't - it never quite resonated with me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Oughtibridge

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ben Gabriel

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Colleen Josette

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gina

  25. 4 out of 5

    OTIS

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vivian chen

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cym

  28. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis Perry

  29. 5 out of 5

    PJ

  30. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Adde

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