Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome

“It is a most remarkable thing.  I sat down with the full intention of writing something clever and original; but for the life of me I can’t think of anything clever and original — at least — not at this moment.”

Jerome K. Jerome is an author best known for his comic travelogue, Three Men in a Boat, which I highly recommend as it is totally hilarious. Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow is a collection of essays; written with Jerome’s signature witty reparteé and lively humour, the essays are titled:

  1. On Being Hard Up
  2. On Being in the Blue
  3. On Vanity and Vanities
  4. On Getting On in the World
  5. On Being Idle
  6. On Being In Love
  7. On the Weather
  8. On Cats and Dogs
  9. On Being Shy
  10. On Babies
  11. On Eating and Drinking
  12. On Furnished Apartments
  13. On Dress and Deportment
  14. On Memory

Yet while Jerome’s anecdotes are amusing and give the reader a good chuckle, he also imparts wisdom to his writing.  In On Vanity and Being Vain, he, at first, pokes fun at the vanity of all men, but concludes that we all must be vain in the right manner.

“Let us be vain, not of our trousers and hair, but of brave hearts and working hands, of truth , of purity, of nobility.  Let us be too vain to stoop to aught that is mean or base, too vain for petty selfishness and little-minded envy, too vain to say an unkind world or do an unkind act.  Let us be vain of being single-hearted, upright gentlemen in the midst of a world of knaves.  Let us pride ourselves upon thinking high thoughts, achieving great deeds, living good lives.”

First Edition, 1886

Jerome also uses wonderfully descriptive sentences, that weave a vibrant and idyllic world around the reader:

“And oh, how dainty is spring —- Nature at sweet eighteen!  When the little, hopeful leaves peep out so fresh and green, so pure and bright, like young lives pushing shyly out into the bustling world; when the fruittree blossoms, pink and white, like village maidens in the Sunday frocks, hide each whitewashed cottage in a cloud of fragile splendor; and the cuckoo’s note upon the breeze is wafted through the woods!  And summer, with its deep, dark green, and drowsy hum — when the rain-drops whisper solemn secrets to the listening leaves, and the twilight lingers in the lanes! ….”

And, of course, one can’t say enough of his humour:

“But that’s just the way.  I never do get particularly fond of anything in this world, but what something dreadful happens to it.  I had a tame rat when I was a boy, and I loved that animal as only a boy would love an old water rat; and, one day, it fell into a large dish of gooseberry-fool that was standing to cool in the kitchen, and nobody knew what become of the poor creature until the second helping.”

If you want a book to make you feel good, read a book by Jerome K. Jerome. His writing is refreshing, light, profound, humorous, beautiful, timeless and educational, all at the same time.  And you won’t stop laughing!

30 DAY CHALLENGE – Day 28

Day 28 – Favourite Title For a Book

Jerome K. Jerome is a favourite of mine, especially for his more well-known work, Three Men in a Boat.  Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow is written in the same style but is a series of humorous essays on different topics.  Some quotes from this book:

It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do. Wasting time is merely an occupation then, and a most exhausting one. Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen.


Swearing relieves the feelings–that is what swearing does. I explained this to my aunt on one occasion, but it didn’t answer with her. She said I had no business to have such feelings.


That is just the way with Memory; nothing that she brings to us is complete. She is a willful child; all her toys are broken. I remember tumbling into a huge dust-hole when a very small boy, but I have not the faintest recollection of ever getting out again; and if memory were all we had to trust to, I should be compelled to believe I was there still.


There are various methods by which you may achieve ignominy and shame. By murdering a large and respected family in cold blood and afterward depositing their bodies in the water companies’ reservoir, you will gain much unpopularity in the neighborhood of your crime, and even robbing a church will get you cordially disliked, especially by the vicar. But if you desire to drain to the dregs the fullest cup of scorn and hatred that a fellow human creature can pour out for you, let a young mother hear you call dear baby ‘it.’