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An iconic poetry collection from American luminary Leonard Cohen, containing some of his most significant verse

Leonard Cohen wrote the poems in Book of Longing—his first book of poetry in more than twenty years after 1984''s Book of Mercy—during his five-year stay at a Zen monastery on Southern California''s Mount Baldy, and in Los Angeles, Montreal, and Mumbai. This dazzling collection is enhanced by the author''s playful and provocative drawings, which interact in exciting, unexpected ways on the page with poetry that is timeless, meditative, and often darkly humorous.

An international sensation, Book of Longing contains all the elements that have brought Cohen''s artistry with language worldwide recognition.

Review

Book of Longing has exceptional range. It is clear yet steamy, cosmic yet private, both playful and profound.” -- New York Times

“. . .alive and contradictory. . . you should read the whole volume. . .” -- LA Weekly

From the Back Cover

Leonard Cohen wrote the poems in Book of Longing—his first book of poetry in more than twenty years—during his five-year stay at a Zen monastery on Southern California''s Mount Baldy, and in Los Angeles, Montreal, and Mumbai. This dazzling collection is enhanced by the author''s playful and provocative drawings, which interact in exciting, unexpected ways on the page with poetry that is timeless, meditative, and often darkly humorous. An international sensation, Book of Longing contains all the elements that have brought Cohen''s artistry with language worldwide recognition.

About the Author

Leonard Cohen was born in Montreal in 1934. He is the author of twelve books, including, most recently, the national bestseller Book of Longing, and has released seventeen albums.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
601 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Brandon Matuja
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Some of Cohen''s very best work!
Reviewed in the United States on March 9, 2018
I''ve considered myself a Leonard Cohen fan for many years now, but I often wonder why. I don''t appreciate or admire the famous "ladies'' man" aspect of his career, and don''t even enjoy listening to any of his music before the late 80''s, when his youthful,... See more
I''ve considered myself a Leonard Cohen fan for many years now, but I often wonder why.

I don''t appreciate or admire the famous "ladies'' man" aspect of his career, and don''t even enjoy listening to any of his music before the late 80''s, when his youthful, boyish voice seemed to have oozed (or cooed) this persona. This is unfair of me--he also wrote some wonderful songs and literature in that time. But I find his early career can''t compare with his later--confirming my growing hypothesis that artists generally improve with age (Beethoven with his Ninth Symphony, Bach with his Goldberg Variations and Art of Fugue, T.S. Eliot with his Four Quartets, etc.)--and I''m not really interested in his work published before "THE FUTURE". (And I for one prefer his aged, gravelly bass voice to his earlier, folk-singer treble.)

All that I write as a preamble to my review: This present book of poetry is a delight, and seems to get better each time I read it.

I recently re-read his "STRANGER MUSIC: SELECTED POEMS AND SONGS", which I remember liking much more some years ago, only to find myself questioning his powers of expression and articulation, in the past. (That collection includes pieces from the beginning of his career but only up to "THE FUTURE" album.) I seldom felt moved by or sympathy with the poems, songs, and prose in that collection; much of it seemed Dadaistic, even, whether Cohen intended such or not. And not in a complimentary way.

But "THE BOOK OF LONGING" is "an odd collection of jazz riffs, pop-art jokes, religious kitsch and muffled prayer," as he describes his novel "BEAUTIFUL LOSERS" apparently, in "A Note to the Chinese Reader" (somewhat enigmatically included in this present book). There are Cohen''s own drawings (in a variety of mediums) scattered liberally throughout the book, most of them poems in themselves (with script or text accompanying them). But the sheer variety of material is what makes this interesting. There are humor, pathos, romance, tragedy, optimism, pessimism, spirituality, respectful irreverence, clarity, obscurity, prose, poetry, and visual art in this book.

Perhaps most importantly: Cohen has developed a very smart sense of humor over the years, and does not spare himself. And these pieces showcase this. Whereas his past material frequently contained an often repugnant self-centeredness and vanity, his more recent works (such as this volume) are lighter (in the best sense of that word); he must''ve learned well from his Zen training, however much he himself would disagree (and does disagree, in some of these poems!)

I think that most of his best work is contained in this book. It is a sort of companion to his "TEN NEW SONGS" album, which features several of these poems set to music. Furthermore, his collaboration with Philip Glass and Glass''s singers and musicians on the "BOOK OF LONGING" album of music--featuring many more of these pieces set to music--is also very interesting.
41 people found this helpful
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Davis
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
He''s my man...
Reviewed in the United States on March 7, 2017
I love Cohen''s music but I really can''t listen to it very long without it affecting my mood. This book is perfect! I got it yesterday: I was 60 pages into it before I came back up for air! The poems are meant to roll around in your mind until the words have touched you like... See more
I love Cohen''s music but I really can''t listen to it very long without it affecting my mood. This book is perfect! I got it yesterday: I was 60 pages into it before I came back up for air! The poems are meant to roll around in your mind until the words have touched you like they were intended. Open, raw, humorous and one of a kind. Cohen stays true to form and touches his readers in places we thought were private, but then you realize: you are incredibly happy that he managed to find his way in. This was one of his later works and now I''m interested in finding more (and working my way back) to the younger man. I highly recommend this book!
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harryandthehendersons
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Raw and True
Reviewed in the United States on August 8, 2017
I was lent this book shortly after it was published when I was quite young and unseasoned. Reading these poems then, I felt sorry for Cohen. After studying Zen for six years, and revisiting this book, I feel like I get it. This book, for me, transitioned from being the... See more
I was lent this book shortly after it was published when I was quite young and unseasoned. Reading these poems then, I felt sorry for Cohen. After studying Zen for six years, and revisiting this book, I feel like I get it. This book, for me, transitioned from being the diary of an aging artist/lover, to a raw critique of the nature of longing and the ever changing course of perspective as we encounter old age, sickness and death. This is a book that will grow with you, especially if you practice Zen. Thank you, Jikan, for your words.
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S. Fox
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
In honor of Leonard
Reviewed in the United States on January 17, 2017
I have loved the music of Leonard Cohen for almost 50 years. I purchased this book while mourning his passing. Reading these poems reminded me that while we all die, the beautiful and useful things we make can live on to touch other people. A wonderful collection of... See more
I have loved the music of Leonard Cohen for almost 50 years. I purchased this book while mourning his passing. Reading these poems reminded me that while we all die, the beautiful and useful things we make can live on to touch other people.
A wonderful collection of poems, some touching, some amusing. Highly recommended
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W. J. Spicermann
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I love this book
Reviewed in the United States on January 18, 2014
Leonard Cohen has been a BIG favorite of mine for 40-something years. His music is some of the most recorded stuff on the planet. Even if his voice is an acquired taste, other performer love his songs enough to make their own versions. Cohen''s poetry in this book... See more
Leonard Cohen has been a BIG favorite of mine for 40-something years. His music is some of the most recorded stuff on the planet. Even if his voice is an acquired taste, other performer love his songs enough to make their own versions.

Cohen''s poetry in this book is no different than his music -- great stuff. Some is exactly the same as his best lyrics, and some is changed to match the written word better. This book is a fantastic book of poetry.

The only person on the planet back in the 60/70''s who wasn''t blown away by Bob Dylan was Leonard Cohen. That''s because his songs were better. Dylan''s imagery was far out, ahead of it''s time. Cohen''s poetry though written for it''s time, was also out ahead of it. I like Cohen''s stuff more but Dylan is no slouch either. Anyhow if you like personal poetic conceit this book will do it.
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Peter Kimbis
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Looking to indulge in longing - here you go.
Reviewed in the United States on November 13, 2017
Beautiful work but only recommended if you are looking to gain satisfaction by indulging in sadness. Otherwise, another option is advised.
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allegria8
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Highly Recommended !
Reviewed in the United States on December 15, 2016
Sweet words, clear thoughts, fond memories .....God Bless Leonard Cohen.....Angels will want to hang with you!
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Penelope
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
If You Love His Music...
Reviewed in the United States on April 12, 2020
This book is gorgeous and tender and all that is Leonard Cohen
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Top reviews from other countries

West Sussex Man
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Sadly a bit disappointing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 30, 2015
This book contains a collection of Leonard Cohen''s poems written over several decades, a few of which became lyrics for the album ''Ten New Songs''. There are also many drawings, often self portraits and some prose. I have been listening to the music of Leonard Cohen for many...See more
This book contains a collection of Leonard Cohen''s poems written over several decades, a few of which became lyrics for the album ''Ten New Songs''. There are also many drawings, often self portraits and some prose. I have been listening to the music of Leonard Cohen for many years and rate him highly as a songwriter and recording artist. However this is the first book of his poetry that I have read and sadly I have been rather disappointed. I think the fact the book contains material from several different decades contributes to the book''s lack of cohesion. There are a few real gems here but I found some of the poems a bit sketchy and/or uninteresting. As for the drawings, they are on occasion rather clever and humorous but others, in my opinion, are not really worthy of inclusion. In future I may decide to read another of Leonard Cohen''s poetry books but unfortunately this one didn''t make a big impression on me. In 2007 Philip Glass created a song cycle containing about 20 of the poems from The Book of Longing and a recording of this is available from Orange Mountain Music. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Philip-Glass-Book-Longing/dp/B000XJM7XQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1451491997&sr=1-1&keywords=philip+glass+book+of+longing
10 people found this helpful
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HolyCheesus
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Book Of Longing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 15, 2017
Having always been a fan of his music, I bought this shortly after hearing about his death. It''s a collection of poems written mostly about people he''s met, largely abstract, sometimes influenced by drink and drugs, written in various parts of the world at various stages of...See more
Having always been a fan of his music, I bought this shortly after hearing about his death. It''s a collection of poems written mostly about people he''s met, largely abstract, sometimes influenced by drink and drugs, written in various parts of the world at various stages of his life. I absolutely adore it. What a thinker he was, what a man. His way with words is impeccable. Some of them are not easy to understand, but clearly he did at the time, true forms of expression of how one felt in the moment.
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Stephen
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Typically Cohen
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 2, 2018
I purchased this as a gift and the receiver was delighted. This is typically Cohen work but with more maturity and a more laid-back approach than some of his earlier work of decades ago. Still a heavy concentration on sexual imagery but that is likely only to be expected....See more
I purchased this as a gift and the receiver was delighted. This is typically Cohen work but with more maturity and a more laid-back approach than some of his earlier work of decades ago. Still a heavy concentration on sexual imagery but that is likely only to be expected. The illustrations provided are a worthwhile addition.
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Uncle David
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent and thought provoking
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 9, 2015
Mr Cohen is obviously a great poet and a well travelled (in life experience) human being. As with any poetry, this book is very revealing (about the author) and full of marvellous poems that make one stop and think. It is also very entertaining and amusing in a sometimes...See more
Mr Cohen is obviously a great poet and a well travelled (in life experience) human being. As with any poetry, this book is very revealing (about the author) and full of marvellous poems that make one stop and think. It is also very entertaining and amusing in a sometimes rather ''dark'' fashion, but then we (humans) are quite often dark even if we don''t admit it, even to ourselves...
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Mr. G. J. Carter
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 16, 2017
I love it
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