In Praise of Retreat by Kirsteen MacLeod, ECW Press

In Praise of Retreat: Finding Sanctuary in the Modern World

MacLeod, Kirsteen

  • For readers of Walden, Wild, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, A Book of Silence, A Gift from the Sea and other celebrations of the inner adventure.

    An utterly engaging dive into our modern ways of retreat — where we go, why we’re drawn, and how it’s urgent

    From pilgrim paths to forest cabins, and from rented hermitages to arts temples and quiet havens for yoga and meditation, In Praise of Retreat explores the pleasures and powers of this ancient practice for modern people. Kirsteen MacLeod draws on the history of retreat and personal experiences to reveal the many ways readers can step back from society to reconnect with their deepest selves — and to their loftiest aspirations in life.

    In the 21st century, disengaging, even briefly, is seen by many as self-indulgent, unproductive, and antisocial. Yet to retreat is as basic a human need as being social, and everyone can benefit, whether it’s for a weekend, a month, or a lifetime. Retreat is an uncertain adventure with as many peaks and valleys as any mountain expedition, except we head inward, to recharge and find fresh energy and brave new ideas to bring back into our everyday lives.


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  • Kirsteen MacLeod is a writer and yoga teacher. Her debut collection of short stories, The Animal Game, was published in 2016. Her fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction have appeared in prominent literary journals, including The New Quarterly and The Malahat Review; scores of her articles have been featured in leading Canadian magazines; and her work has been a finalist for the CBC Literary Award in creative non-fiction, among other awards. She divides her time between Kingston, Ontario, and a riverside cabin in the woods near Bancroft.

  • Published: March 2021

    ISBN: 9781770414730

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 368


“Anyone looking for a respite from everyday busyness or struggling through quarantine will be inspired by MacLeod’s fresh perspective on the benefits of solitude.” — Publishers Weekly

“MacLeod’s writing is clear, and her love for quiet, green spaces shines through in lyrical passages about life at her cabin. Her curiosity and passion make for engaging reading throughout the historical sections of each chapter … It’s a book worth reading, one that would make a solid addition to a cottage bookshelf, to be pulled down and riffled through by lamplight on quiet summer nights.” — Quill & Quire

In Praise of Retreat — part memoir, part nature essay, part guidebook — is thoughtful, thoroughly researched and often refreshingly wry.” — Shelf Awareness

“Articulate, well written, and profoundly challenging, I recommend this book to help us all navigate these uncertain times.” — The Cyberlibrarian blog

“Insightful and educational with delightful doses of good humor … This is a wonderful book full of the gifts of retreat and pilgrimage as well as their challenges, with insightful passages on which to reflect—all of it, it’s own sort of sanctuary.” — Story Circle

“Narrated with a touch of warmth that is balanced with the detachment that comes from self-awareness and solitude, the book’s pace is smooth, and its diction is beautiful … In Praise of Retreat issues a deep, thoughtful, and experienced invitation to one’s mind, body, and spirit.” — Foreword Reviews

“At first glance a peaceful read that might yet be useful in helping us make the most of this unexpected alone time.” — Toronto Star

In Praise of Retreat does an excellent job of conveying the ever-present value of cultivating soul-feeding solitude by choice.” — Open Book

“At its best, In Praise of Retreat poses interesting, challenging questions.” — Winnipeg Free Press