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The beloved New York Times bestselling author reflects on home, family, friendships and writing in this deeply personal collection of essays.   “Any story that starts will also end.” As a writer, Ann Patchett knows what the outcome of her fiction will be. Life, however, often takes turns we do not see coming. Patchett ponders this truth in these wise essays that afford a fr The beloved New York Times bestselling author reflects on home, family, friendships and writing in this deeply personal collection of essays.   “Any story that starts will also end.” As a writer, Ann Patchett knows what the outcome of her fiction will be. Life, however, often takes turns we do not see coming. Patchett ponders this truth in these wise essays that afford a fresh and intimate look into her mind and heart.  At the center of These Precious Days is the title essay, a suprising and moving meditation on an unexpected friendship that explores “what it means to be seen, to find someone with whom you can be your best and most complete self.” When Patchett chose an early galley of actor and producer Tom Hanks’ short story collection to read one night before bed, she had no idea that this single choice would be life changing. It would introduce her to a remarkable woman—Tom’s brilliant assistant Sooki—with whom she would form a profound bond that held monumental consequences for them both.  A literary alchemist, Patchett plumbs the depths of her experiences to create gold: engaging and moving pieces that are both self-portrait and landscape, each vibrant with emotion and rich in insight. Turning her writer’s eye on her own experiences, she transforms the private into the universal, providing us all a way to look at our own worlds anew, and reminds how fleeting and enigmatic life can be.  From the enchantments of Kate di Camilo’s children’s books to youthful memories of Paris; the cherished life gifts given by her three fathers to the unexpected influence of Charles Schultz’s Snoopy; the expansive vision of Eudora Welty to the importance of knitting, Patchett connects life and art as she illuminates what matters most. Infused with the author’s grace, wit, and warmth, the pieces in These Precious Days resonate deep in the soul, leaving an indelible mark—and demonstrate why Ann Patchett is one of the most celebrated writers of our time.


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The beloved New York Times bestselling author reflects on home, family, friendships and writing in this deeply personal collection of essays.   “Any story that starts will also end.” As a writer, Ann Patchett knows what the outcome of her fiction will be. Life, however, often takes turns we do not see coming. Patchett ponders this truth in these wise essays that afford a fr The beloved New York Times bestselling author reflects on home, family, friendships and writing in this deeply personal collection of essays.   “Any story that starts will also end.” As a writer, Ann Patchett knows what the outcome of her fiction will be. Life, however, often takes turns we do not see coming. Patchett ponders this truth in these wise essays that afford a fresh and intimate look into her mind and heart.  At the center of These Precious Days is the title essay, a suprising and moving meditation on an unexpected friendship that explores “what it means to be seen, to find someone with whom you can be your best and most complete self.” When Patchett chose an early galley of actor and producer Tom Hanks’ short story collection to read one night before bed, she had no idea that this single choice would be life changing. It would introduce her to a remarkable woman—Tom’s brilliant assistant Sooki—with whom she would form a profound bond that held monumental consequences for them both.  A literary alchemist, Patchett plumbs the depths of her experiences to create gold: engaging and moving pieces that are both self-portrait and landscape, each vibrant with emotion and rich in insight. Turning her writer’s eye on her own experiences, she transforms the private into the universal, providing us all a way to look at our own worlds anew, and reminds how fleeting and enigmatic life can be.  From the enchantments of Kate di Camilo’s children’s books to youthful memories of Paris; the cherished life gifts given by her three fathers to the unexpected influence of Charles Schultz’s Snoopy; the expansive vision of Eudora Welty to the importance of knitting, Patchett connects life and art as she illuminates what matters most. Infused with the author’s grace, wit, and warmth, the pieces in These Precious Days resonate deep in the soul, leaving an indelible mark—and demonstrate why Ann Patchett is one of the most celebrated writers of our time.

30 review for These Precious Days: Essays

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Update - December 11, 2021 I am so grateful to Ann Patchett for this spectacular book. Or should I say my friend Ann? Because listening to these essays feels like having a conversation with a valued friend. Over the last several days we have walked, cooked and gone on a few drives together. She has shared her joys, fears and revelations - and has made me laugh and laugh. And cry. Her voice in my ear felt both soothing and heart-piercing. And although she did all the talking, it didn't feel one-si Update - December 11, 2021 I am so grateful to Ann Patchett for this spectacular book. Or should I say my friend Ann? Because listening to these essays feels like having a conversation with a valued friend. Over the last several days we have walked, cooked and gone on a few drives together. She has shared her joys, fears and revelations - and has made me laugh and laugh. And cry. Her voice in my ear felt both soothing and heart-piercing. And although she did all the talking, it didn't feel one-sided. She left space for me to see own life more vividly. I also have a hard cover copy of the book and love Sooki's stunning paintings on the glossy front and back cover. This is a book that I'll leave on the table next to my chair. Just looking at this precious book lifts me. I can't recommend it enough. ---------------------- Response to essay in Harpers Magazine - January 2021 My son called me earlier today and told me I must read "These Precious Days," a long essay in Harpers magazine by Ann Patchett. We both loved her essay collection "This is the Story of a Happy Marriage." So as soon as I had time today, I found the essay online and didn't come up for air until I finished. The story is this: Ann Patchett got to know Tom Hanks from his short story collection and then got to know his assistant Sooki who then ended up coming to live with Ann. It is a remarkable, wonderful essay - here is the link. Go read it now! Warning - it is quite long - so clear some time because you won't want to stop. https://harpers.org/archive/2021/01/t... I'm excited that it seems to be part of a collection coming out in November!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    Ann Patchett takes us to intimate places in her head and heart with this lovely collection of essays . I’ve read all of her novels and reading this book has made me want to read her other non fiction books. Reading this has also made me want to knit again, to read children’s books by Kate DeCamillo, to take a trip to Nashville not to go to the Grand Ole Opry, but to Parnassus her bookstore, to get rid of all the extra stuff in our house, to be more giving. There’s a beautiful tribute to her fath Ann Patchett takes us to intimate places in her head and heart with this lovely collection of essays . I’ve read all of her novels and reading this book has made me want to read her other non fiction books. Reading this has also made me want to knit again, to read children’s books by Kate DeCamillo, to take a trip to Nashville not to go to the Grand Ole Opry, but to Parnassus her bookstore, to get rid of all the extra stuff in our house, to be more giving. There’s a beautiful tribute to her father and two stepfathers. The stunning, heartfelt essay of the same title of the book is about the gift of true friendship, a wonderful woman named Sookie, and the generosity and love that Ann and her husband extended to her. I believe Patchett fans will love this as I did, getting to know some about her writing and her life. I recommend it to those who haven’t read her books, too. You will want to read every one of them. I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Regina

    I finished this marvel of a book several days ago, and I’m still swooning. Sometimes you pick one up and feel like you mesh with it so perfectly that it might have been written just for you. This was my experience with Ann Patchett’s 2021 essay collection, These Precious Days. Twenty-two essays (plus an introduction and epilogue) that were written during the COVID lockdown, when she found writing fiction impossible but still needed to put pen to paper. Of course it helps if you have a personal c I finished this marvel of a book several days ago, and I’m still swooning. Sometimes you pick one up and feel like you mesh with it so perfectly that it might have been written just for you. This was my experience with Ann Patchett’s 2021 essay collection, These Precious Days. Twenty-two essays (plus an introduction and epilogue) that were written during the COVID lockdown, when she found writing fiction impossible but still needed to put pen to paper. Of course it helps if you have a personal connection to the topics she covers, and with 22 to choose from you likely will. For me, these were: no shopping/minimalism, having a husband who likes to fly teeny tiny (scary) planes, childlessness, book cover love, and (sigh) cancer. The titular essay, “These Precious Days,” refers to her unexpected friendship with a woman named Sooki Raphael (Tom Hanks’s assistant) who stayed with her and her husband for cancer treatments in 2020 while the world was shut down. (That’s one of Sooki’s paintings of Patchett’s dog on the cover.) It was previously published in Harper’s Magazine, and you can still read it online if you can’t get your hands on the full book. https://harpers.org/archive/2021/01/t... But if you love eloquence and wisdom, and listening to a voice of an author that quickly becomes a dear friend, then I give the audiobook my highest recommendation. Patchett narrates it herself, and the days I spent with her in my ear were, in a word, precious. Blog: https://www.confettibookshelf.com/

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    BACK WITH UPDATE….(below Happy Thanksgiving) Forgive me while I cry….. “These Precious Days”, by Ann Patchett is.. *****THE MOST PRECIOUS BOOK of 2021***** Longer review to follow soon… or/ and … do not wait … grab this book and read it ASAP! HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all that celebrate 🍁🌿🍂 MY UPDATE: It’s still early morning. I’m lying under my covers… it’s Thanksgiving Day. I keep thinking about Ann Patchett, and Sookie Raphael. EVERY reader will also continue thinking about Ann and Sookie …. and the ext BACK WITH UPDATE….(below Happy Thanksgiving) Forgive me while I cry….. “These Precious Days”, by Ann Patchett is.. *****THE MOST PRECIOUS BOOK of 2021***** Longer review to follow soon… or/ and … do not wait … grab this book and read it ASAP! HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all that celebrate 🍁🌿🍂 MY UPDATE: It’s still early morning. I’m lying under my covers… it’s Thanksgiving Day. I keep thinking about Ann Patchett, and Sookie Raphael. EVERY reader will also continue thinking about Ann and Sookie …. and the extraordinary essays in “These Precious Days” long after finishing it. It’s easy to describe the basics… (but these are just the basics) The heart & soul go much deeper…. But here’s the basics: These essays are about love, life, death, family, friends, fathers, mothers, step fathers, step mothers, sisters, stepchildren, marriages, divorces, adventures, travel, college, books, (a ‘full range’ of book ‘themes’) writing, (great offerings to even a seasoned writer), art, health, sickness, yoga, kundalini, walking, dogs, Ann’s dog, (Sparky), working out, authors who have died, covid, California, Nashville, Tennessee, reading and re-reading cravings, caretaking, LAPD, Parkinson’s disease, pancreatic cancer, birthdays, noteworthy actors, and authors, The Academy of Arts and Literature, awards, Thanksgivings, (cooking and gathering memories), the power of not shopping for a year, gift giving, joy, sadness, crying, laughing, grief, suffering, feeling bad, feeling good, people who have influenced and shaped Ann’s life. Ann shared about precious objects ( what to keep, what to let go) She shared about authors who influenced her during her young formative years. Books, and authors gave Ann a glimpse as to what type of adult she might be in the area of love, sex, and work. John Updike, Philip Roth, and Saul Bello, we’re definitely influencers.. but there were others - other books - other teachers - other people…. And a VERY SPECIAL blessing of a late-in-life friendship…. with *Sookie Raphael*… who wore a beautiful jacket the first day they met: black jacket with pink peonies, the size of a hand. Throughout these essays are wisdom… characters of strength, brilliance, and feelings of love… I laughed, I cried, I came away incredibly inspired. I listened to the Audiobook…from the library. And after listening to many parts 2 and 3 times… I said to myself - purchased it already!! And I did - I purchased it already!! After listening to the library copy, I’m now a proud owner of this Audiobook….read by Ann Patchett 11 hours and 14 minutes… I haven’t had my fill yet - I’m going to listen to it again - perhaps once a year regularly. There are numerous outstanding editorial reviews all over the Internet …(personally I didn’t view them until after I took my own turn listening to this book). There are many other great contributing reviews here on Goodreads…. and there will be more coming. Whether you go into this book blind or having read a lot before taking your own turn…. it’s a memorable powerful enjoyable - luv- experience. OUT of CONTEXT…favorite message: ….As it turned out Ann and Sookie needed the same things—to find somebody who could see each other’s best and most complete selves.

  5. 5 out of 5

    emma

    i like the way ann patchett writes and thinks, and i like the way she depicts her friends and family and life, so this book of autobiographical essays worked for me. but it would have been worth it for the dutch house behind the scenes alone. bottom line: dutch house fans unite! -------------------- pre-review at first i thought i couldn't get into this book, but now i think maybe i was just savoring it. review to come / 3.5 stars -------------------- currently-reading updates accidentally bought a large i like the way ann patchett writes and thinks, and i like the way she depicts her friends and family and life, so this book of autobiographical essays worked for me. but it would have been worth it for the dutch house behind the scenes alone. bottom line: dutch house fans unite! -------------------- pre-review at first i thought i couldn't get into this book, but now i think maybe i was just savoring it. review to come / 3.5 stars -------------------- currently-reading updates accidentally bought a large print edition of this and i have just one question: why isn't every book a large print edition -------------------- tbr review nothing i need in this life except ann patchett writing about how lovely it is

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brandice

    I’ve been fortunate to have read several good short story and essay collections this year. These Precious Days is no exception and the best of those I’ve read in 2021 — All of the essays in this collection are at least good, almost all great. Ann Patchett is a brilliant writer. She is able to capture simple elements of being human and make them interesting, something I suspect all writers strive to do and something she excels at. “How other people live is pretty much all I think about. Curiosity I’ve been fortunate to have read several good short story and essay collections this year. These Precious Days is no exception and the best of those I’ve read in 2021 — All of the essays in this collection are at least good, almost all great. Ann Patchett is a brilliant writer. She is able to capture simple elements of being human and make them interesting, something I suspect all writers strive to do and something she excels at. “How other people live is pretty much all I think about. Curiosity is the rock upon which fiction is built.” I read the title essay, “These Precious Days”, about Ann’s friendship with Sooki Raphael, assistant to Tom Hanks, earlier in 2021 when it was first published. I loved it and was excited to learn the essay would be part of a collection later in the year. Typically when reading collections, some will resonate more than others and there may be a miss or two, but that was certainly not the case here. They were all great stories that held my interest. The subjects cover life and death, grief and joy, community, and some aspects of being an author and a bookshop owner. I found “Cover Stories” about Ann’s various book covers especially interesting as a reader, book lover, and specifically, an Ann fan. I thought it was funny that she referenced being mistaken for Anne Tyler on multiple occasions because they’re both great writers who capture human elements so well yet their stories are unique enough to be distinct. These Precious Days is a collection I’m glad to have read, one I’ll definitely revisit, and one I highly recommend. __________________________________ Original review — April 2021 I read this essay today, previously published in Harper’s magazine about Ann Patchett’s friendship with Tom Hank’s assistant, Sooki Raphael. Sooki is of course more than Hank’s assistant, but this role is how Ann came to know her. I love Ann Patchett, she’s a brilliant writer and while this essay is long — for an essay — it’s entirely worth it. Thanks to Debbie and Lisa and their reviews for first bringing this to my attention! May be read here: https://harpers.org/archive/2021/01/t...

  7. 5 out of 5

    JanB

    I love Ann Patchett’s writing but ultimately, in this case, the book languished on my nightstand until I downloaded the audiobook. Listening to Ann read her own words was the perfect way to experience her essays. As with any collection, there were some essays I liked better than others, and I recommend reading (or listening) to one or two a day, not straight through. The one I found most interesting as a reader was “Cover Art”, on how covers are chosen and how much input is allowed an author. In I love Ann Patchett’s writing but ultimately, in this case, the book languished on my nightstand until I downloaded the audiobook. Listening to Ann read her own words was the perfect way to experience her essays. As with any collection, there were some essays I liked better than others, and I recommend reading (or listening) to one or two a day, not straight through. The one I found most interesting as a reader was “Cover Art”, on how covers are chosen and how much input is allowed an author. In my own journey to minimize and simplify I appreciated her essay, “My Year of No Shopping”. The most heartfelt and moving essay was about Sooki, Tom Hank’s assistant. They became friends and grew even closer during Sooki’s long battle with pancreatic cancer. It is her art on the cover of the book and their relationship was touching and moving. You can read it online here: https://harpers.org/archive/2021/01/t... In between, Ann touches on her childhood, her fathers, the death of a parent, her decision to remain childless, her writing career, owning a bookstore, her marriage, and other topics. Listening to her was like sitting down with a good friend over a cup of coffee. This is indeed a precious life and Ann reminds us how very fragile life is and how we need to find the joy in our days. Living a life of love and generosity of spirit, paying attention to the small moments, and putting people and relationships above all else sounds like meaningless platitudes but in this book we see them in action. I enjoyed this glimpse into Ann’s life and closed the last page with a full heart.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ceecee

    This is a varied and lovely collection of reflective essays written by Ann Patchett over the years. I think one of the things I’ll take away from this is what a wonderful, warm hearted and generous person she is. She’s kind, hospitable and a loyal and true friend - in fact, at the end of reading this I want her to befriend me!!!! The stand out story in my opinion is These Precious Days when after reading Tom Hank’s short stories, she gets to meets Tom and his assistant Sooki Raphael with whom sh This is a varied and lovely collection of reflective essays written by Ann Patchett over the years. I think one of the things I’ll take away from this is what a wonderful, warm hearted and generous person she is. She’s kind, hospitable and a loyal and true friend - in fact, at the end of reading this I want her to befriend me!!!! The stand out story in my opinion is These Precious Days when after reading Tom Hank’s short stories, she gets to meets Tom and his assistant Sooki Raphael with whom she forms an incredible friendship. Sooki’s story is written with deep love and compassion, I love it, it moves me and the author also makes me love Sooki. It’s impossible to mention all in this eclectic collection but ‘My Year of No Shopping’ is very thought provoking about the stuff we all accumulate and I’ve made a LARGE note to myself to try to follow some of this wisdom when I’m tempted to click Buy Now! I can but try. The Worthless Servant is a very moving story about Father Charlie Strobel and the lessons the author has learned from him. In the Doghouse makes me laugh especially as Snoopy is her role model (and why not), How Knitting Saved My Life Twice is funny but then becomes serious demonstrating how it helps overcome her grief at the loss of a dear friend. Tavia is one of Ann’s best friends and her lifeline and she’s just my kind of friend as she remembers half while Ann remembers the other half! The definition of a perfect friend! It’s clear that friendship is so valuable to AP and once a friend it seems you are a friend for life. Her open house policy with frequent visitors tells you all you need to know about her generous spirit. The stories include a focus on her family and it’s dynamics and she is very frank about some life decisions she has made. Overall , this is an extremely readable collection about family, friends, love and what really matters. Her passion for all things bookish shines through and if I’m ever in Nashville her bookshop Parnassus is a must visit. What I’ll take away from this is a feeling of warmth that emanates from the author and how she is prepared to stand up for what she thinks is right. Highly recommended. With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Bloomsbury Publishing PLC for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anne Bogel

    As shared in my January Quick Lit round-up: I wasn't going to read this, and then enough bookseller friends recommended it that I changed my mind. In this broad essay collection, Ann Patchett reflects on the writing life, significant friendships, bookstore ownership, and taking mushrooms (really!). I had read earlier versions of some pieces before—and maybe you have, too, because we shared them in Links I Love, but I enjoyed both revisiting those and reading her new work. You may be surprised to As shared in my January Quick Lit round-up: I wasn't going to read this, and then enough bookseller friends recommended it that I changed my mind. In this broad essay collection, Ann Patchett reflects on the writing life, significant friendships, bookstore ownership, and taking mushrooms (really!). I had read earlier versions of some pieces before—and maybe you have, too, because we shared them in Links I Love, but I enjoyed both revisiting those and reading her new work. You may be surprised to hear my favorite issues center not on her writing experience but on complex family relationships, as she does in "The Nightstand" and "Two More Things I Want to Say About My Father."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Just wonderful. Patchett is such an amazing storyteller, whether it's fiction or sharing parts of her own life. So much is covered in these essays, essays of love, flying., father's and daughters, her writing, her decision to have or not have children, her bookstore, life,sickness and death. Sounds like a lot but she's such a natural writer, that is seamlessly flows. At books end my thought was, she is a good person, not full of herself despite her talent, a person I would love to meet. A good di Just wonderful. Patchett is such an amazing storyteller, whether it's fiction or sharing parts of her own life. So much is covered in these essays, essays of love, flying., father's and daughters, her writing, her decision to have or not have children, her bookstore, life,sickness and death. Sounds like a lot but she's such a natural writer, that is seamlessly flows. At books end my thought was, she is a good person, not full of herself despite her talent, a person I would love to meet. A good discussion with C, Kathleen and Carmel.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Well, this was a wonderful book to end 2021 with. Patchett writes of all her different relationships .. with her three father’s, yes three… of her relationships with her mother, sister, husband, and friends. She writes about deciding to not have children early in life.. about death. The title story was just beautiful! I feel like I know her so very well! Wowza, Ms Patchett… well done👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Love love love! One of my very favorite short story or essay collections is To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts by Caitlin Hamilton Summie, and These Precious Days is right up there at the top. This is phenomenal. My cousin introduced me years ago to the wonders of Ann Patchett’s fictional stories like Bel Canto and The Magician’s Assistant. More recently, I devoured the audio of The Dutch House read by none other than Tom Hanks. These Precious Days is deeply personal to Patchett, and it was very hard to pu Love love love! One of my very favorite short story or essay collections is To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts by Caitlin Hamilton Summie, and These Precious Days is right up there at the top. This is phenomenal. My cousin introduced me years ago to the wonders of Ann Patchett’s fictional stories like Bel Canto and The Magician’s Assistant. More recently, I devoured the audio of The Dutch House read by none other than Tom Hanks. These Precious Days is deeply personal to Patchett, and it was very hard to put down. It’s full of surprises and so much nuance, I don’t want to give anything away. Reading it made my love for her books even fonder. Highly recommended for fans of this author. It’s an emotional, powerful, and resonant treasure. I received a gifted copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nat K

    ”…the myths of adult life…” -How to Practice While reading this collection of essays, the question struck me out of the blue. Is it the stories themselves that I think are so wonderful, or is it the writing itself? Are the two mutually exclusive? Can you love one and not the other? This book made my heart sing. It has everything in it you could want to read about. And things you didn’t know you would want to read about, or could care less about. As Ann Patchett puts emotion into her words, and write ”…the myths of adult life…” -How to Practice While reading this collection of essays, the question struck me out of the blue. Is it the stories themselves that I think are so wonderful, or is it the writing itself? Are the two mutually exclusive? Can you love one and not the other? This book made my heart sing. It has everything in it you could want to read about. And things you didn’t know you would want to read about, or could care less about. As Ann Patchett puts emotion into her words, and writes with such honesty. About big things and small things, and all the things in between.  About friendship, love, loss, family, writing, mosquitoes, spring cleaning, death, possessions, and people and places that inspired her. I’m perplexed as to why I’ve not read any of her books before. Bel Canto has been on my radar for years, as has Commonwealth. The Dutch House was a Bookclub pick at a time where reading anything at all was the last thing on my mind, or even being capable of. Looking at her book list, I realise this is going to have to become another reading odyssey for me to complete. It’s hard for me to pick a favourite from this collection, as each essay has something to offer, on a diverse range of topics. Even the one about flying - Flight Plan - of which I have no interest in an at all (flying in a light plane for fun? no thanks, I have to wash my hair), I got something from, as it was about the emotions behind it. About the worry of waiting for a loved one to return home when flying solo. The “what if” of waiting for “that phone call” that may, or hopefully will not, arrive. Having said that, a few did stand out and struck even more of a chord.  The title threw me. Three Fathers. How is that possible? There’s a gorgeous photo of Ms.Patchett with three distinguished looking gentlemen at her sister’s Wedding. Her father and two step-Dads. It’s an essay about the complexity of life and relationships, of how we each have something different to offer each other at various stages in our life. Nothing remains static. These three very different men shaped her, and a few pages into the chapter I was already overwhelmed and started to tear up. It’s just so beautiful. ”No one exists on paper and pens, alone in a room without anyone to tell them when to get up and what to eat and when to go to sleep.” - Three Fathers Possessions. In this essay Ms.Patchett talks about her year of not shopping, bar for essentials. How it freed her, and got her thinking about why we buy so much. What void this is trying to fill. Hands up I acknowledge I have wayyyy too many things. Working from home (off and on, but mainly on for the last two years), has made me realise how much I do have, and how much I don’t really need. How simple it is to make do. Though I have to admit, having too many books or yarns of wool is never enough… ”Once I could see what I already had, and what actually mattered, I was left with a feeling that was somewhere between sickened and humbled. When did I amass so many things, and did someone else need them? ” -  My Year of No Shopping The joy of reading, and her love of the comic strip Peanuts was a delight. Reading about her love of comics and books brought back memories of my own childhood, where I was perfectly happy in my own cocoon of fictional friends. To think that Snoopy firmly cemented in her mind that writing was the path she must take. How wonderful is that! ”Snoopy dedicated his first book to Woodstock. ‘My friend of friends’.” - To The Doghouse Like reading, knitting played a large part in Ms.Patchett’s life. As a fellow wool devotee, I understood perfectly the emotion behind each item that’s been made. Whether for pleasure, as an alternative to smoking, or as a balm for the Soul in tough times. Stitch by stitch. Knit one, purl one. ”It was a good yarn for the grieving because even on the days I did nothing, I could point to my knitting and say to myself, Look at all I’ve done.” - How Knitting Save my Life. Twice. There’s the beauty of friendship, and the beauty of evolving friendship, that moves and grows as people reinvent themselves, and life takes them to different places. A good friendship isn’t dependent on geographical proximity, but on the closeness of the heart. ”Some years all we’ve managed to do is exchange birthday cards, while other years we’ve talked on the phone every week.” ”We’ve become friends because we were the lucky ones.” -  Tavia Taking a chance, and kismet. How life puts our best laid plans to the side so that better things can come our way. ”On our fourth date, I looked at him across the table in the restaurant…But what did life ever come to without a few risks? I asked him if he wanted to go to Vienna. Yes. He said yes, and then he said it again without giving it a second thought.” - A Paper Ticket Is Good for One Year The wonder of being a young reader. Where you imagination allows you to truly believe in what you’re reading, even though you know it isn’t true. Yet it puts the spark of magic in you, which you hopefully keep well into adulthood. Or find it again if it becomes lost. ”That’s what I got from these books, the ability to walk through the door where everything I thought had been lost was in fact waiting for me. All of it. The trick was to be brave enough to look. The books had given me that bravery, which is another way of saying the ability to believe.” - Reading Kate DiCamillo Sisters, is an essay about Ms.Patchett and her Mum. About their close relationship, and how strangers often remarked they seemed more like sisters. I only realised I'd been holding my breath when I exhaled a "wow" at the last few sentences. About her Mum's stay in hospital, where Ann squeezed into the same bed to be with her. I understood. " 'You look so much alike,' the nurse would say quietly, not wanting to disturb us more than we were already disturbed. 'Like sisters?' I asked. She shook her head. 'No,' she said. 'Like the same person.' " - Sisters The indelicacy of time passing.These Precious Days is the longest of the essays. And if I'm honest, my favourite (shhhhh, don't tell the others). It had my emotions in tangles. About dignity and grace in the face of death. About the specialness of now. If you do nothing else, beg, borrow or steal a copy of this book, if only to read this one essay. It's special. The striking cover has special significance as it's tied in to this essay. ”Pay attention, I told myself. Pay attention every minute.” - These Precious Days I was so immersed in this book, I read it well into the evening, until it got too dark for me to able to see. I’d been sitting outside in the garden – it’s Summer here – and the balmy evening, the sound of leaves creating a lovely rustling sound, along with the strumming of my neighbour’s guitar, made for the most gorgeous reading experience. It was such an amazing feeling to be that lost in a book. It’s one that’ll stick in my mind whenever I look at the cover. If you get the opportunity, it’s definitely worth settling in with this book. I can’t recommend it enough. It truly is such a calm wonder. Hopefully it will give you a gentle nudge to think about what’s important and what truly matters most to you. And it’s timely to read it as this time of year, at the beginning of a new one. Though I’d say reading this any old time will be the right one. In fact, it’s all said best by Ann Patchett herself. About how important books are, and how we need to share our love of the extra special ones. ”As every reader knows, the social contact between you and a book you love is not complete until you can hand that book to someone else and say, Here, you’re going to love this..”  *Snoopy happy dance*. Yes, I loved this.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rincey

    4.5 stars I absolutely adored every minute I spent with this book. I love the way Ann Patchett writes and you can feel the love and wonder with which she views the world and the people around her Watch me talk about this book in my January Wrap Up Part 2: https://youtu.be/IBtZ-U9wq80 4.5 stars I absolutely adored every minute I spent with this book. I love the way Ann Patchett writes and you can feel the love and wonder with which she views the world and the people around her Watch me talk about this book in my January Wrap Up Part 2: https://youtu.be/IBtZ-U9wq80

  15. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    4.5 stars, rounded up. These Precious Days is a new collection of essays by Ann Patchett that make you think, make you feel, and may even make you cry. Patchett is a total auto-buy author for me. I’ve read all of her fiction and even though I’m not a huge nonfiction fan, I devoured her memoir and her previous essay collection. So needless to say, when I heard she had a new book of essays coming out, I had to purchase it immediately. There’s just something about the way Patchett writes that just 4.5 stars, rounded up. These Precious Days is a new collection of essays by Ann Patchett that make you think, make you feel, and may even make you cry. Patchett is a total auto-buy author for me. I’ve read all of her fiction and even though I’m not a huge nonfiction fan, I devoured her memoir and her previous essay collection. So needless to say, when I heard she had a new book of essays coming out, I had to purchase it immediately. There’s just something about the way Patchett writes that just draws me in. There’s a quiet beauty to her words, and her essays feel like stories in many ways. I was utterly captivated by characters I’ll never meet but I was fully invested in their lives. These essays dealt with topics such as marriage, family, writing, friendship, people she admires, her love for knitting and Snoopy, and more. Each one is insightful and what I love so much about her writing is that she never belabors a point or uses 50 words when 10 will do. My favorite essay in the collection is the title one, the longest in the collection by far. When Tom Hanks agrees to do the audiobook of The Dutch House , Patchett forges a connection with his assistant, Sooki, a connection that transcends schedules and logistics and blossoms into a life-changing friendship. This essay truly could’ve been a novel. Even though I don’t follow a lot of Bookstagram trends, yay me for getting in another book for #NonfictionNovember just under the wire! See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    These Precious Days, Anne Patchett's memoir in essays, examines the importance of crucial relationships between family and friends, aging and death, and the writing life. Patchett, 58, the author of eight novels, four nonfiction books, and two children's books, opens the door to the world of her youth and invites us into her adult home and Parnassos, the indie bookstore she owns in Tennessee. Patchett is a novelist with an eye for detail and character. Her finely crafted essays bring her subjects These Precious Days, Anne Patchett's memoir in essays, examines the importance of crucial relationships between family and friends, aging and death, and the writing life. Patchett, 58, the author of eight novels, four nonfiction books, and two children's books, opens the door to the world of her youth and invites us into her adult home and Parnassos, the indie bookstore she owns in Tennessee. Patchett is a novelist with an eye for detail and character. Her finely crafted essays bring her subjects to life. Her writing is lively, and her portraits are imbued with compassion. Topics include an in-depth- portrait of her three fathers, humorous descriptions of her college summer abroad, her graduate work at the Iowa MFA program, and the influence of Charles Shultz's Snoopy on her development as a writer. On a more serious and personal note, she writes about her marriage, her decision not to have children, and her induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In the title essay, These Precious Days, Patchett describes her covid year. It is my favorite piece and one that highlights the book's themes. Here the significance of friendship looms large. Sooki Raphael was Tom Hanks's personal assistant. Patchett first met her when she wrote an endorsement for his book of stories, Uncommon Type, and they developed a warm friendship via e-mail. When Patchett learns that the only treatment trial for Raphael's newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer is at a Nashville hospital, she invites her to live with her and her husband during the treatment. Shortly after Raphael arrives, Covid hits. Patchett's moving essay chronicles their deep and growing friendship throughout this trying time. I listened to Anne Patchett read her book on audio. It was an intimate experience. I recommend the book to Patchett fans or to those who want to try reading her for the first time.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    I had to peek… It was stupid of me to open Goodreads at 4:30 a.m., but what can I say? I’m a GR addict! Just a quick glance, I told myself. But then I ran into Lisa’s great review of this essay by Ann Patchett. Wait. So Ann Patchett has written something new? I was all ears. Lisa warned that it was a long piece, and she warned that when you start reading, you won’t want to stop, so make sure you have enough time. I couldn’t stand it—I had to peek. Surely I could read a bit, then set it aside unti I had to peek… It was stupid of me to open Goodreads at 4:30 a.m., but what can I say? I’m a GR addict! Just a quick glance, I told myself. But then I ran into Lisa’s great review of this essay by Ann Patchett. Wait. So Ann Patchett has written something new? I was all ears. Lisa warned that it was a long piece, and she warned that when you start reading, you won’t want to stop, so make sure you have enough time. I couldn’t stand it—I had to peek. Surely I could read a bit, then set it aside until tomorrow. WRONG! I got pulled in immediately, and though I kept telling myself to stop, my eyes and brain did not cooperate. It was 5:30 before it was lights out! At least it was before dawn, but barely. This is a touching story of friendship, but it doesn’t resemble a Hallmark moment in the least. It’s not shallow or corny or bland. There are no cheap thrills, there’s no drama for the sake of drama. She writes steadily, and with compassion and smarts. Patchett makes you feel—the best thing a writer can do, in my opinion. It began when Patchett read a book by Tom Hanks. She was star-struck, which I thought was cute. Authors are star-struck, too? Patchett got to meet Tom. She also met his assistant, Sooki, whom Patchett became friends with. I’m going to leave it at that. In Patchett’s hands, the ordinary turns to gold. Besides talking about their friendship, she talks a little about writing. She describes how she came up with the idea for her latest novel, Dutch House (a book I liked), and she talks about how she put it together. I loved this peek into how her mind works. Here’s one of her gem sentences: “I was starting to understand that what she needed might have been color rather than conversation, breath rather than words.” I enjoyed Patchett’s book of essays called This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, and this piece could fit right in. Lisa mentioned that she has a collection coming out in November. Very exciting! Here’s a link to the story: https://harpers.org/archive/2021/01/t...

  18. 4 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    5★ “Off we went to bed, the book and I, and in doing so put the chain of events into motion. The story has started without my realizing it. The first door opened and I walked through. But any story that starts will also end. This is the way novelists think: beginning, middle, and end.” Ann Patchett had chosen one of the many unsolicited books she receives from publishers, who are hoping for a quote for the book jacket. She didn’t hold out much hope for this one, Uncommon Type, because it was writt 5★ “Off we went to bed, the book and I, and in doing so put the chain of events into motion. The story has started without my realizing it. The first door opened and I walked through. But any story that starts will also end. This is the way novelists think: beginning, middle, and end.” Ann Patchett had chosen one of the many unsolicited books she receives from publishers, who are hoping for a quote for the book jacket. She didn’t hold out much hope for this one, Uncommon Type, because it was written by an actor, but she’d always thought they should stick to acting, but she asks herself why shouldn’t Tom Hanks write short stories? Yes, that Tom Hanks. She is happily surprised to find they’re good and promptly sends off her endorsement to the publisher, flattered that she was asked to ‘help’ someone like him. She has always travelled a lot, doing interviews and book shows, so she later crosses paths with Hanks and his assistant, Sooki, a tiny, fascinating woman she would like to get to know. Patchett lives in Nashville and has a bookstore. Hanks is considering opening a bookstore and his wife, Rita Wilson, comes to Nashville a couple of times a year for her music. She gets brave and asks if he’d considering doing the audio for her new book The Dutch House. YES! But . . . it will take some scheduling, and thus, she finally begins a conversation and relationship with Sooki. They become very friendly through emails. “This wasn’t out of the ordinary for me, as I’m sure it wasn’t for her. Email tilts toward the overly familiar. I tilt toward the overly familiar.” Sooki, it turns out, is being treated for pancreatic cancer, and Patchett thinks of her time as precious now. They begin corresponding about paint and colour and artists and art books. They have become friends. This is now February 2020, a time leading into the Global Pandemic, but we didn’t really know that then. What Ann knows is that her new friend needs more medical help. Sooki is flying to Memorial Sloan Kettering in NY (she lives in LA), looking for a clinical trial or something. “My reading on this flight is a book called Radical Remission. I am hopeful and feeling radical.” Ann mentions Sooki’s situation to her husband, Karl, who is a doctor, and the story really begins there. It is an amazing piece of diary, memoir, essay, and colour. Lots of colour. “The paintings were bold, confident, at ease. When she gave us the painting she had done of Sparky on the back of the couch, I felt as if Matisse had painted our dog.” The story is available online at Harper’s with three of Sooki’s paintings to enjoy. I will share them below, but I hope she includes some more of them in her book. They are a formidable pair of friends and wonderful artists. Here are the pictures. “Sparky Walks the Neighbourhood with Ann, Nashville 2020” “Sparky Considers a Squirrel, Nashville 2020” “Self-Portrait, Nashville 2020 What I have read is the title story, a novella, really, from Patchett’s book which is expected to be published in November 2021. Here’s the link to the story online. https://harpers.org/archive/2021/01/t... I have read only the title story of what is now a collection. There is a wonderful interview with the author here about the book. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/26/bo...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    Pogo-stick time again! Bouncy bouncy bouncy! I love Ann Patchett, I just do! This collection of personal essays is smart, heartfelt, and honest. Review to follow.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lorna

    These Precious Days is the latest anthology of essays by one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett. I think that what I love most about her essays is her humility and her love of books from the time she was a small child. This was one of the passages that spoke to that: "Paying close attention to the text, and realizing that books can save you, those were the lessons I learned my freshman year of college when school was closed. I then went on to use this newfound understanding to great advanta These Precious Days is the latest anthology of essays by one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett. I think that what I love most about her essays is her humility and her love of books from the time she was a small child. This was one of the passages that spoke to that: "Paying close attention to the text, and realizing that books can save you, those were the lessons I learned my freshman year of college when school was closed. I then went on to use this newfound understanding to great advantage for the rest of my life. Books were not just my education and my entertainment, they were my partners. They told me what I was capable of. They let me stare a long way down the path of various possibilities so that I could make decisions." This book of essays is very personal, many of them appearing in some form previously in The New Yorker or The Atlantic, as she talks about the relationships with her three fathers. While they all enriched her life in so many ways, I loved the relationship with her father that she only saw one week a year as she was growing up as she and her sister, Heather, flew to California, all of them crying unconsolably as they had to part. Her novel Commonwealth was probably the most autobiographical in that respect. And growing up in the South, she embraced southern authors Eudora Welty and Carson McCullers. When she learned of the death of Eudora Welty, she made her way to Jackson, Mississippi where this passage conveys the moment: "It was seventy-five degrees as we made our way to the cemetery after the service, something I doubt had ever happened in Jackson in July. I doubt it will happen again. Greatness had come through once, which is really all we could hope for, and the world that had been so justly represented took back the one who loved it best." And there is a delightful essay on the art of bookcovers and what goes into the decision. Ann Patchett talks about one of my favorite books of hers and certainly one of my favorite book covers, The Dutch House. Ann Patchett realized that Maeve was the heart of the book and she commissioned a favorite artist to create a portrait of Maeve that hung in the Dutch House dining room. I remember holding my breath as I realized that the stunning book cover was Maeve. Ms. Patchett speaks to that in this cover: "I've had some very good covers in my life, but this was a great one, and while I've worked with many other people to get things right, I've never had a true collaborator. Noah's painting is actually part of the book, and it makes the book look better. At a certain point the reader comes across the mention of the painting and realizes that the painting she's reading about is the painting on the cover." "I would send my books into the world wearing the best suit of clothes I could find, because they were my books, and I knew that that was how they'd be judged." And I would be remiss if I did not talk about the titled essay, These Precious Days is a very personal narrative about the close friendship that flourished between Ann Patchett and Sookie Raphael, the assistant to Tom Hanks. It is a beautiful story that I will leave the magic of that relationship to unfold as one reads the book. But I can't resist disclosing that the bookcovers of These Precious Days were paintings by Sookie. Enjoy!

  21. 4 out of 5

    luce ❀ wishfully reading ❀ semi hiatus

    ❀ blog ❀ thestorygraph ❀ letterboxd ❀ tumblr ❀ ko-fi ❀ 4 ½ stars “As it turned out, Sooki and I needed the same thing: to find someone who could see us as our best and most complete selves. Astonishing to come across such a friendship at this point in life. At any point in life.” Ann Patchett is easily one of my favourite authors of all time. The Dutch House and The Magician's Assistant are absolute favourites of mine and I’ve also loved her previous collection of essays, This is the Story of a ❀ blog ❀ thestorygraph ❀ letterboxd ❀ tumblr ❀ ko-fi ❀ 4 ½ stars “As it turned out, Sooki and I needed the same thing: to find someone who could see us as our best and most complete selves. Astonishing to come across such a friendship at this point in life. At any point in life.” Ann Patchett is easily one of my favourite authors of all time. The Dutch House and The Magician's Assistant are absolute favourites of mine and I’ve also loved her previous collection of essays, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, which managed to bring me hope during one of my ‘down in the doldrums' phases. This is all to say that I will read anything by Patchett. These Precious Days, her latest, is yet another winning addition to her already impressive oeuvre. While many of these essays are preoccupied with death and mortality they ultimately struck me as life-affirming. In some of these essays, Patchett writes about her family, in particular of her relationship with her three fathers. There are also essays in which she looks back to her ‘youthful’ days, for example, of that time when she and a friend were so taken by the tattoos of a Parisian waitress that they were determined to also get tattooed. Patchett also gives us insight into her married life, writes of her love for dogs, of her relationship to Catholicism, of that year she gave up shopping, and of authors, she admires such as Eudora Welty and Kate DiCamillo. It is difficult for me to articulate just how much comfort I find in Patchett’s ‘voice’ but within a few pages of her first essay, I found myself immersed in that which she was recounting. Patchett has a knack for rendering both people and space and it was easy to be transported by her writing. Of course, the ‘These Precious Days’ essay is this collection’s crowning glory. In this essay, Patchett writes of her friendship with Sooki, Tom Hanks’ assistant. This was such a moving and thoughtful essay, one I look forward to revisiting again. Patchett’s meditations on death, mortality, family, friendship, and creativity definitely struck a chord with me. I loved learning about her childhood and I appreciated those glimpses into her everyday life. Reading this inspiring and beautifully written collection of essays was a balm for my soul.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    I can't do justice to this book in a review. I love Ann Patchett. I loved this book. I can't do justice to this book in a review. I love Ann Patchett. I loved this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

    An enjoyable collection of essays that offer us a glimpse into Patchett's life. She covers a variety of themes such as her three fathers, decluttering, writing, her faith, friendship, her dogs, and her decision to remain childless to mention just a few. Patchett comes across as straightforward and self-assured. The audiobook was narrated by Patchett herself which made it all sound more real. Recommended to lovers of Patchett's writing and not only. An enjoyable collection of essays that offer us a glimpse into Patchett's life. She covers a variety of themes such as her three fathers, decluttering, writing, her faith, friendship, her dogs, and her decision to remain childless to mention just a few. Patchett comes across as straightforward and self-assured. The audiobook was narrated by Patchett herself which made it all sound more real. Recommended to lovers of Patchett's writing and not only.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Sumi

    Six years ago, I read Ann Patchett’s first collection of essays, This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage. It was an extraordinary book, not merely a let’s-see-what’s-in-my-filing-cabinet affair to publish between novels. Each piece was carefully crafted and fascinating in its own right. It was so impressive that after I finished my library copy I bought a copy to be able to sample and reread. This second volume is similarly packed with unforgettable material. The pieces range from lighthearted essa Six years ago, I read Ann Patchett’s first collection of essays, This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage. It was an extraordinary book, not merely a let’s-see-what’s-in-my-filing-cabinet affair to publish between novels. Each piece was carefully crafted and fascinating in its own right. It was so impressive that after I finished my library copy I bought a copy to be able to sample and reread. This second volume is similarly packed with unforgettable material. The pieces range from lighthearted essays about, say, her husband Karl’s adventures as a pilot, or the importance of book cover jackets, or the role knitting has played in her life. She offers up warm memories about travel, friends (many of them writers) and family members (the opening essay is a beautiful ode to her three fathers: her biological father, her stepfather and then, after her mother divorced, a second stepfather). There’s a very satisfying piece about owning a bookstore, Nashville’s Parnassus Books. And then there are a group of essays that take on really profound issues: why she never wanted children (and why interviewers insist on tsk-tsking her about it), the illness and death of her father and, in the poignant title piece, the profound friendship she forged with Sooki, an artist and Tom Hanks’s assistant. I was a little disappointed that Patchett didn’t include her marvellous Vanity Fair cover story on Nashville resident (and fellow book lover) Reese Witherspoon, which went way beyond your typical magazine profile. But I understand why it didn’t make the cut. (You can read it here.) With some other writers who are primarily novelists – Jonathan Franzen comes to mind – you get the sense that their non-fiction collections are lesser works, written to fulfill contracts between their more lasting and significant fiction. Not so with Patchett. Each piece is beautifully constructed. Nothing seems dashed off for a quick buck or to see one’s byline in print. There’s something timeless about each one. Precious indeed.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    Remarkable in every way - I wish I could give a copy of this book to everyone I know. Don’t let “essays” scare you off - there is nothing dry, boring or lecture-ish about this. Her honesty and humanity shine like a beacon in all of these stories. Ann Patchett is a treasure. Read this!

  26. 5 out of 5

    ☮Karen

    Having just finished this, with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, Patchett once again affirms what a truly magnificent person she is in her daily life. Not to mention a fantastic writer and story teller. There were passages I would have highlighted and quoted, had mine been an ebook, such as her description of the color pink in our winter skies, tinged with blue -- a perfect description; but these are my imperfect words, a paraphrasing, since I had the audiobook, not an ebook. I could no Having just finished this, with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, Patchett once again affirms what a truly magnificent person she is in her daily life. Not to mention a fantastic writer and story teller. There were passages I would have highlighted and quoted, had mine been an ebook, such as her description of the color pink in our winter skies, tinged with blue -- a perfect description; but these are my imperfect words, a paraphrasing, since I had the audiobook, not an ebook. I could not have imagined a pink that has blue in it without her reminder of the sky that right now is staring back at me through my window. Another book sharing some Covid experiences, and I am seeing that that's maybe going to be the norm with most books published in 2021 and '22. I'll have to get used to it. Here, it was easy to read, as are all of her stories. A memoir that feels like a conversation with an old friend.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Betsy Robinson

    Reading these essays is like spending days with your best friend. I’m late to the Ann Patchett fan club. My introduction was The Dutch House where I gushed not only about the story but about the cover art. My next book was State of Wonder where I was in awe of her technical prowess and range, but baffled by a strange censorship. In These Precious Days, Patchett's friend has a dream about her and has the overwhelming sense from the dream of Ann Patchett's "completeness." That expresses what Reading these essays is like spending days with your best friend. I’m late to the Ann Patchett fan club. My introduction was The Dutch House where I gushed not only about the story but about the cover art. My next book was State of Wonder where I was in awe of her technical prowess and range, but baffled by a strange censorship. In These Precious Days, Patchett's friend has a dream about her and has the overwhelming sense from the dream of Ann Patchett's "completeness." That expresses what I feel about her writing, this book, and the person I've just spent days with. There is something so satisfyingly complete about her that even though our backgrounds are so different, I always resonated with her and felt as if I could have responded to everything like an excited friend. I loved the shop talk—about writing and book covers, etc. I got to learn not only about The Dutch House's cover story but about the two (yes, two) covers on the book I was holding. I hadn't realized until reading the essay on book covers that it has two front covers—on the front and back—and they are painted by the much-celebrated friend of two of the essays, Sooki Raphael. In addition, I think I may have an understanding of the weird censorship of any peeing/pooping explanation in State of Wonder via my new understanding of Patchett's father's influence. I love this woman! I love her work. Reading this essay collection was a wholly satisfying use of my precious days!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bkwmlee

    Happy New Year! I can’t think of a better way to start off the new year than with a 5 star read, especially one written by one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett! I actually started Patchett’s newest essay collection (published in November last year) on Christmas Eve and even though I technically could’ve finished it in one sitting, I decided instead to savor it over the New Year’s holiday. Going into this book, I already knew it would be one I’d love and now after finishing, I can say wit Happy New Year! I can’t think of a better way to start off the new year than with a 5 star read, especially one written by one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett! I actually started Patchett’s newest essay collection (published in November last year) on Christmas Eve and even though I technically could’ve finished it in one sitting, I decided instead to savor it over the New Year’s holiday. Going into this book, I already knew it would be one I’d love and now after finishing, I can say with certainty that Patchett definitely did not disappoint — reading her essays evoked in me a roller coaster of emotions, but more importantly, the experience made me reflect on aspects of my own life and gave me food for thought on a few things. Even though some of the essays I had actually read already back when they had been originally published in magazines and papers such as The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, etc., I still re-read every word, and in so doing, picked up one some things I had missed the first time. The ones I hadn’t read before, I learned things that I would not have known otherwise, which is the beauty of a collection such as this one where the essays run the gamut from funny to poignant and every emotion in between. This is also a book where the cover (or, in this case, two covers) added tremendous meaning to the content — to this point, it was fascinating to read about how the cover came about and the significance of it to this particular collection of essays. Content-wise, I also loved the additional insights into Patchett’s previous novels and story collections, which made me want to go read (and in some cases re-read) her other works. Overall, I loved all the essays in this collection, but if I really had to choose my favorites, they would be as follows: “Three Fathers” — This essay, in which Patchett wrote about her relationship with her father and two stepfathers, was actually published in The New Yorker last year and I had already it at that time, but I still enjoyed reading it again. “My Year of No Shopping” — This was a short essay, only a few pages long, yet there was a profound lesson about learning how to value the things we have. “How to Practice” — This was another essay I had already read when it was published in The New Yorker and I remember at that time, how fascinated I was with it, mainly because I also have a lot of stuff that I don’t realize I have because a lot of it is hidden (out of sight, out of mind). Reading it a second time now was actually more meaningful because I’ve been in “decluttering mode” lately so the timing was perfect. “To the Doghouse” — Omg, this was one of my favorite essays! I love Snoopy and to learn how big a role the world’s most beloved beagle had on Patchett becoming a writer, I was absolutely there for it! “Flight Plan” — In this essay, Patchett writes about her husband Karl’s love for flying planes, but it also reveals why their relationship works so well. So sweet! “There Are No Children Here” — This essay especially resonated with me, as I’ve had many of the same encounters with people about the decision to not have children. I love how Patchett handled the various scenarios she found herself in — it definitely made me admire her even more! “The Nightstand” — In this essay, an unexpected chance encounter opens the floodgates for Patchett to go through some old papers that help her rediscover parts of herself that she didn’t realize meant so much and how much her family inadvertently helped her come to this realization. “Cover Stories” — I loved learning the behind-the-scenes stories about how the covers for her books came to be! “These Precious Days” — This essay, about how Patchett came to form a close friendship with Tom Hanks’ assistant Sooki Raphael, was essentially the backbone of the book. I had actually read this one previously as well, yet on second reading, it felt so much more poignant (especially after reading the Epilogue to the book). “What the American Academy of Arts and Letters Taught Me About Death” — This essay was absolutely fascinating and so learned so much about the literary world that I had no clue about. And of course, as an avid reader, seeing so many great authors mentioned here whose works I admire was especially meaningful. “A Day at the Beach” — The last essay in the book and also a follow up to Sooki’s story — poignant, heartfelt, and one of the most touching pieces in the book!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Those of you who know me understand that it takes a lot for me to award 5 Stars to a book. This collection of essays deserves every one of them. All 22 of these pieces resonated with me. So much has already been written about this collection that I'll just leave you with my advice to get yourself a copy of this book as soon as you are able, and be ready for a feast. Those of you who know me understand that it takes a lot for me to award 5 Stars to a book. This collection of essays deserves every one of them. All 22 of these pieces resonated with me. So much has already been written about this collection that I'll just leave you with my advice to get yourself a copy of this book as soon as you are able, and be ready for a feast.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    Patchett is one of my favourite authors at the moment, but this collection has left me quite cold. I believe it is an honest collection of thoughts on what it is to be an award-winning author with insights on the effects her relationship with friends and parents has had on making her. That being said, who cares? The out-of-touch nature of someone living her entire life surrounded by the elites like her makes everything feel like that someone at a dinner party you wish would stop talking, especia Patchett is one of my favourite authors at the moment, but this collection has left me quite cold. I believe it is an honest collection of thoughts on what it is to be an award-winning author with insights on the effects her relationship with friends and parents has had on making her. That being said, who cares? The out-of-touch nature of someone living her entire life surrounded by the elites like her makes everything feel like that someone at a dinner party you wish would stop talking, especially when it comes to her loved-ones owning planes. I think I am a bad audience for memoir-ish personal essay collections, the only ones I remember truly loving being anything by James Baldwin and Man Without a Country. If you wanted to write a memoir/autobiography, just do that and give us a narrative structure to hold on to. This is not a very good guideline for anyone who enjoys this kind of collection, and sure what do I know? She remains one of the best living novelists.

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