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The O of Home Paperback – 10 Dec 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: O Books (10 Dec 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846942640
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846942648
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.3 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,282,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jennifer Kavanagh is a former literary agent, who spent nearly 30 years in publishing. She now sets up micro-credit programmes, mainly in Africa, and is a facilitator for the conflict resolution programme, Alternatives to Violence project. Jennifer lives in London, England. She is a Quaker, an associate tutor at the Quaker study centre, Woodbrooke, and she writes and speaks regularly on the Spirit-led life. She is the author of six books.

Product Description


The O of Home is a remarkably honest, unpretentious, clear-eyed account of a courageous woman getting rid of her worldly goods, and a lot of emotional baggage, and finding a new and exhilarating freedom. --Guardian Books, Robert McCrum

This is a book that opens the heart. Tender, thought-provoking, compassionate, and insightful, it leads us on a circular journey from understanding what we need and mean by home, through experiences of homelessness and forced displacement, to a true coming home to the self and the divine. --Marian McNaughton, Chair of Trustees of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

Home - in the heart, in the head, a physical space that shifts and moves withemotions, a locale, a dream, a site of conflict and cruelty and also intimacy and safety, homelands, exile- all this and more are explored in this tender and moving book which makes you wonder what home really is or ever was. --Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Columnist and author of Settler's Cookbook a memoir

About the Author

Jennifer Kavanagh gave up her career as a literary agent to be a community/prison worker. She is a microcredit practitioner, facilitates conflict resolution workshops and is active in the Quaker community. This is her third book.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Krausz-Rogerson on 15 Mar 2011
Format: Paperback
This book analyses the concept of Home and spends time in defining this by looking at homelessness.I started to think this writer Jennifer Kavanagh was burdening herself and the reader with other peoples problems. Poor him and poor her, poor them, but bear forth to the later chapters and her true mission emerges in this very personal tome. You know a lot about Jennifer by the end of this search for the meaning of and a purpose in life. You are left feeling your position in life is ---- well read the book.
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Format: Paperback
I had just been reading a book by an American academic on the relationship the British have had with their interiors since 1900, so perhaps it's graceful structure has put me in a less receptive state for this sort of amateur writing. This book rambles, it is like a shambolic collection of notes that might later turn into a book but is quite a long way from actually being one.

What is it supposed to be? It is not fully a memoir, where personal anecdotes and observations would be expected. But it is also a very, very long way away from being an academic text which explores a subject from a number of varied and interesting angles. I began to seriously dislike the author, which no doubt didn't help my enjoyment, there was something a bit holier than thou about her bravely giving up stuff and walking with the homeless. Perhaps the problem of it not being a story of her life, and not being a well-thought out survey of the meaning of home. It's like a diary interspersed with not always related notes or stories about other people's (mostly unfortunate) circumstances.

With the focus is firmly on sad stories of people without homes, strung together a bit haphazardly, the book is ultimately not about home at all but the lack of it. The conclusion heads in a fairly trite direction of home is where the heart is, where the soul is, the circle... the home is nowhere, presumably with her God. Sigh. I thought it was that bad I actually put it in the recycling rather than risk boring another person with it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quick efficient service, thank you. I bought this book as I heard a Radio 4 programme on the meaning of 'Home' which was really interesting and they recommended this book for further reading - I have not been disappointed!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
In the beginning is relation. --Martin Buber 5 Jan 2012
By Isabel Anders - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The O of Home is an amazing and important book--a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of humans and of this planet. What, indeed, IS home? As one couple the author spoke to described it, "It's about the energy and moments the place soaks up and radiates out, that determines whether we feel comfortable inside it." And another insight, offered by Jeannette Winterson: "I believe that ... gradually if you have one safe calm space, the bigger space around you becomes safe and calm too."

These issues are not just for those involved in political decision-making and future planning in regard to shelter. All of us are affected, in ways we may not envision, by the limits and expansiveness of what other people call "home"--and by the ways we enable and thwart each other in our attempts to find it.

There are so many dimensions to Jennifer Kavanagh's carefully researched and heartfelt study of "home," its meaning for humans, and the implications for the body and soul of homelessness--not having a place or "one single thing that you call your own." A warning to readers: the collective pain experienced in the stories of losses, in Kavanagh's interviews of the homeless, of visiting the displaced, and of considering the deprived people on our planet (especially in chapter 9, Broken Circles Displacement) is palpable.

In eleven generous chapters, ending with "The O of Completeness Coming Home," Kavanagh branches out from basics, weaning us from our usual understanding of the meaning of "to live." Perhaps, as one couple remarks, "Home is a place and a series of relationships." And, for instance, why do we say that we "live" only with family--and not during working hours apart as well? How can some people live in the same geographical locations but experience different "worlds"--varying levels of safety and contentedness--in them? Could an early, underlying sense of "home" deter some young people from criminal offenses in adult life?

Through it all, Kavanagh asks the underlying and most important question: What will we do about all this? "Acquisition is fulfilling but addictive; our yearning is without end. Can we bring back that infinite yearning, from its material expression to its proper spiritual dimension?" p. 161

The O of Home is an essential read in our beginning to learn how to answer that question, both individually and collectively.

UPDATE I received from the author: "The O of Home is to be reissued in April 2012 with the title Journey Home, to tie in with a board game I have originated."

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The O of Home 26 Nov 2010
By john rainwater - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A thoughtful book that opens one's heart to not only the plight of the home-less, but also to what "home" means to oneself. It is a nice mix of researched facts and personal stories from a variety of people. A very good read! Ro Rainwater
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