The Whole Five Feet

In The Whole Five Feet, Christopher Beha turns to the great books for answers after undergoing a series of personal and family crises and learning that his grandmother had used the Harvard Classics to educate herself during the Great Depression. The result is a smart, big-hearted, and inspirational mix of memoir and intellectual excursion that “deftly illustrates how books can save one’s life” (Helen Schulman).

“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. [Beha] makes an elegant case for literature as an everyday companion no less valuable than the iPod. —New York Times Book Review

Beha builds an intensely felt, intensely human engagement with these works. While his book will not equip you to pretend to have read the shelf ... it does something better: It demonstrates how and why to read seriously. — San Francisco Chronicle