Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age

Riverhead. Feb. 2023. 224p. ISBN 9780593329993. $26. SELF-HELP
“If there were a spirit of this age,” May (Wintering) writes in the first essay of her new collection, “it would look a lot like fear.” Modern life, with all its conveniences, has left people feeling exhausted and panicked, with a sense that something is missing. According to May, what’s missing is enchantment, an openness to the experiences of life via engagement. Through a series of essays arranged thematically around the four medieval elements—earth, water, fire, and air—May explores enchantment in her own life through a variety of experiences ranging from observing a meteor shower to swimming in the ocean. She asks, “How do we get past the blunt knowing of our disenchanted age and tap back into the magic that we used to perceive everywhere?” But enchantment isn’t a call to return to romanticized olden days where living in tandem with the natural world was a matter of survival; it’s a reminder that the natural world is here to inspire and astonish.
VERDICT May’s observant, moving essays are a balm for souls wearied by the nonstop pulse of contemporary life, and an invitation to reconnect with the outside world. A masterpiece of mindfulness in action; recommended for all libraries.
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