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These Precious Days: Essays

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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. 5 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

    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.

  4. 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...

  5. 4 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.

  6. 4 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👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  7. 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...

  8. 5 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.

  9. 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/.

  10. 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...

  11. 5 out of 5

    luce

    | | blog | 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 man | | blog | 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 5 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 5 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!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Patchett’s excellent essays are deeply personal. Whether it is recounting her experiences of growing up with ‘My Three Dads’, or backpacking in Europe with a friend in ‘The Paris Tattoo’, or particularly in ‘These Precious Days’; Patchett reminds us how precarious and precious life is. ‘These Precious Days’ is the longest and strongest of her essays. It recounts how she befriended Tom Hanks’ assistant, Sookie Raphael, during the period that Tom worked on his narration of her book ‘The Dutch Hous Patchett’s excellent essays are deeply personal. Whether it is recounting her experiences of growing up with ‘My Three Dads’, or backpacking in Europe with a friend in ‘The Paris Tattoo’, or particularly in ‘These Precious Days’; Patchett reminds us how precarious and precious life is. ‘These Precious Days’ is the longest and strongest of her essays. It recounts how she befriended Tom Hanks’ assistant, Sookie Raphael, during the period that Tom worked on his narration of her book ‘The Dutch House’. So—when Sookie fell ill with her 2nd bout of pancreatic cancer and the only hospital offering a clinical trial to treat it happened to be in Nashville, Patchett invited her to stay with herself and her husband Karl. What evolves is a close friendship that allowed the thwarted painter to explore her vision of being a painter. [The cover art is Sookie’s painting of Patchett’s dog, Sparky.] But, as Ann, Karl and Sookie hunkered down during the pandemic lockdown that began shortly after Sookie began treatment, it also allowed Ann to seriously reflect on how little we really know about the people we interact with and how fragile life really is. “Death always thinks of us eventually. The trick is to find the joy in the interim.” Clearly, wonderful advice for us all.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

    Many thanks to Lisa and Debbie for bringing this wonderful essay to my attention. A story about being open to people, about altruism and generosity, about a friendship that started very small. Isn't it amazing how we're drawn to certain people, how we click with some, how something innocuous and ordinary can turn into something important and relevant? This story was so touching, I almost wrote one of those trite sayings I usually roll my eyes at "people come into our life for a reason". I guess I Many thanks to Lisa and Debbie for bringing this wonderful essay to my attention. A story about being open to people, about altruism and generosity, about a friendship that started very small. Isn't it amazing how we're drawn to certain people, how we click with some, how something innocuous and ordinary can turn into something important and relevant? This story was so touching, I almost wrote one of those trite sayings I usually roll my eyes at "people come into our life for a reason". I guess I still wrote it. Sorry. And talk about synchronicity or coincidence, this morning (it's after 1 pm now) I watched a Russell Brand video where he teaches us the practice of Kundalini, something I had never heard of - I'm not into Yoga, although I would like to be, even though I dislike the cultish aspects of it. Anyway, imagine my delight to read about it in this story. Maybe I should try the practice, although it looks kind of ridiculous, but then, nobody has to watch, who knows, maybe I'll learn to breathe properly. Here's the link if anyone is interested ( https://fb.watch/3a6_1rgSh-/ ) Also, here's the link to the essay. Enjoy. https://harpers.org/archive/2021/01/t...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    I’m looking forward to reading this whole collection. For now, I really enjoyed this essay about Patchett’s friendship with Tom Hanks’ assistant, Souki. Patchett first struck up a friendship with Souki through email, and then invited her to stay with her and her husband in Nashville so Souki could receive experimental treatment for pancreatic cancer - at the beginning of the pandemic no less. It’s much more than an essay about friendship. There are so many rich strands to this essay. Patchett re I’m looking forward to reading this whole collection. For now, I really enjoyed this essay about Patchett’s friendship with Tom Hanks’ assistant, Souki. Patchett first struck up a friendship with Souki through email, and then invited her to stay with her and her husband in Nashville so Souki could receive experimental treatment for pancreatic cancer - at the beginning of the pandemic no less. It’s much more than an essay about friendship. There are so many rich strands to this essay. Patchett reflects on how she puts her stories together, on how you get to know someone, on illness, kindness and gratitude, and on much more. I loved how Patchett makes short shrift of Souki’s gratitude by saying that she should have known that the cost of living with a writer is that you will be written about. As I say, this is a good taste of what promises to be a rich collection. Thanks to Debbie for recommending this one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    PorshaJo

    Rating 4.5

  20. 4 out of 5

    Vivek Tejuja

    I remember reading my first Ann Patchett novel in the year 2011, and that changed so much about the way I used to live. Bel Canto did and still does so much to me not only as a reader, but also as a person. I am of the firm belief that if certain books have the capacity to do that, then they must be kept close for the entire lifespan. Having said that, I started devouring everything that Patchett had written before Bel Canto and in the coming years after. This is mainly about her fiction. Now ab I remember reading my first Ann Patchett novel in the year 2011, and that changed so much about the way I used to live. Bel Canto did and still does so much to me not only as a reader, but also as a person. I am of the firm belief that if certain books have the capacity to do that, then they must be kept close for the entire lifespan. Having said that, I started devouring everything that Patchett had written before Bel Canto and in the coming years after. This is mainly about her fiction. Now about her non-fiction. The essays mainly. She writes the only way she knows and wants to perhaps, with utmost honesty. This is what I feel every time I read her – a sense of deep honesty. “These Precious Days” her latest collection of essays made me feel just the same and more. When Patchett speaks of her three fathers, you are moved to tears, because you are reminded of your own father and men who are father figures in your life. When she speaks of literature, you are tempted to pick up her favourite reads. Patchett has a deep sense of friendship, so of course she celebrates some of her friends in this collection. She speaks of her mother with fondness and wit. The title story of the collection is about her acquaintance with Tom Hanks, and the long-lasting beautiful friendship she shared with his assistant Sooki who was battling pancreatic cancer. Patchett’s writing is without pretension and that’s what makes it not only relatable but also empathetic. Her writing style is her own – it is enchanting, real, glorious, and unafraid to go into deep corners of the mind and heart and present life the way it is – unpredictable, constantly evolving, and mainly lived through memories.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Holly R W

    If you are a fan of Ann Patchett's writing, you probably have read some or many of her books. Personally, I have read Commonwealth and The Dutch House. They each were striking in their own ways. This collection of Patchett's essays are striking as well - unique to the author, genuine and original. The essays come together to give a glimpse of what Patchett's life is like. She writes about her childhood, her experiences with writing and being a book seller, her marriage, her friendships and her If you are a fan of Ann Patchett's writing, you probably have read some or many of her books. Personally, I have read Commonwealth and The Dutch House. They each were striking in their own ways. This collection of Patchett's essays are striking as well - unique to the author, genuine and original. The essays come together to give a glimpse of what Patchett's life is like. She writes about her childhood, her experiences with writing and being a book seller, her marriage, her friendships and her faith. For those of you who enjoyed Commonwealth, there is an interesting essay about Patchett's own three fathers along with their picture. She is a prolific and talented author. As long as Patchett keeps writing, I will be reading her books. 4.5 stars PBT Note: The book fits the monthly tag for "Books About Books".

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    A beautiful and optimistic essay on connections, chance, Tom Hanks, family, health crises, creativity, natural disasters, books, hallucinogens (!), but most of all, a soul-nurturing friendship. I'm a slow reader, so it took me a good 2 hours to read from start to finish, but the payoff will be exponential in days of uplift as I reflect on many of the topics covered. In a couple of places, Patchett shares some details about her writing process, including the fact that she has to know the end of t A beautiful and optimistic essay on connections, chance, Tom Hanks, family, health crises, creativity, natural disasters, books, hallucinogens (!), but most of all, a soul-nurturing friendship. I'm a slow reader, so it took me a good 2 hours to read from start to finish, but the payoff will be exponential in days of uplift as I reflect on many of the topics covered. In a couple of places, Patchett shares some details about her writing process, including the fact that she has to know the end of the story before she can write it. I'm so glad, and we are so lucky, that she was able to write and share this one before it ends. https://harpers.org/archive/2021/01/t... Beautifully illustrated with the paintings of Sooki Raphael.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kevidently

    2020 was my whirlwind Ann Patchett year. While we were all binge-watching TV, I was also binge-reading Patchett. I’d read The Dutch House in 2019 and made indefinite plans to “really try some of her other stuff,” when I had time. In 2020, I had so much time. The problem with a binge-read of a writer who has written under a dozen books is that you can come to the end relatively quickly. I’d cut my teeth on Stephen King, whose accurate mantra is “Here, sir, there are always more tales.” Not so with 2020 was my whirlwind Ann Patchett year. While we were all binge-watching TV, I was also binge-reading Patchett. I’d read The Dutch House in 2019 and made indefinite plans to “really try some of her other stuff,” when I had time. In 2020, I had so much time. The problem with a binge-read of a writer who has written under a dozen books is that you can come to the end relatively quickly. I’d cut my teeth on Stephen King, whose accurate mantra is “Here, sir, there are always more tales.” Not so with Patchett. I read Run in a day. I read Taft in two. I craved her books. Needed them on some fundamental level I couldn’t entirely explicate. They were water in the endless desert of time. Then I finished, and the waiting began. When would the next Ann Patchett come? I needed the new book. I needed my Patchett fix. The answer came in early 2021: her new book was coming in December. Not a novel, but a book of essays. At first, I was ambivalent. I’d loved Patchett’s book on her friend Lucy Greely, and I’d liked her prior book of essays, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. But the fact that it wasn’t fiction made me preemptively wary. It was statistically impossible that I would like this book as much as I would enjoy a novel. So why did I binge-read it? Or, more accurately, binge-listen? Patchett had read her own audiobook of These Precious Days, and listening to her tell her own stories might have been the balm I needed on my anxieties this cold season. I traveled to Minneapolis with the book in my ears, reveling in her essay on the cover art of her books.(Jhumpa Lahiri has a book on the subject I read this year, and even though both authors are smart and witty about the failures and occasional successes of cover art, I preferred Patchett’s take. Maybe because I’m more familiar?) The book is structured in such a smart way, a way that allows us to read it with the momentum of reading a novel. The introduction is titled “Essays Don’t Die,” and it’s followed by a surprisingly funny tale about the three men who’d functioned as her father over the course of her life, all of whom who have since died. This is a taste of what’s to come, but not immediately. It would be wrong to say that These Precious Days is all about death, even though the shadow of a pandemic hangs over much of the book, and even though its title essay is a long, heartfelt ode to her friend Sookie, who is dying of cancer. The book is brimming with life: stories about a youthful trip to Paris, about knitting as an act of salvation, about a lack of children and what that doesn’t mean. Nearly every essay grabbed me and held me in its temporary thrall (my one holdout being “The Worthless Servant”; I find religion interesting and writing about it smart, but this one didn’t work for me). As we near the end, however, the essays about death and dying rise to a crescendo. They are about the people who die, the legacies they leave, and the people left to remember them. It’s not sad, really; to me, these ruminations on dying only underscore the earlier essays on living. Life is what happens before the end, so live it. This was the Ann Patchett book I needed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

    This book felt like a solid 4 until I hit the essay this book is named after, and from there on it hit a concrete 4.75-5. This is heartfelt, honest, and touching. Consider me a new fan of Ann Patchett’s non-fiction. Don’t mind me as I race to find her other NF work.

  25. 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.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I'm a longtime fan of Ann Patchett, both her fiction (Commonwealth and The Dutch House being my favourites) and non-fiction (Truth and Beauty and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage were both excellent), and am pleased to say this new collection did not disappoint. I will caveat that statement by saying it did take me a few essays to get into the swing of this collection - perhaps some of the earlier essays in the book were a tiny bit slight? - but once I was about 25% in I found the book hard I'm a longtime fan of Ann Patchett, both her fiction (Commonwealth and The Dutch House being my favourites) and non-fiction (Truth and Beauty and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage were both excellent), and am pleased to say this new collection did not disappoint. I will caveat that statement by saying it did take me a few essays to get into the swing of this collection - perhaps some of the earlier essays in the book were a tiny bit slight? - but once I was about 25% in I found the book hard to put down. The titular essay on her friendship with Tom Hanks's assistant was brilliant (and was published in Harper's Magazine in January this year if you fancy checking it out) and worth the price of entry alone, but there were plenty of others I enjoyed, with the ones on Patchett's three fathers and the one on her husband's flying immediately springing to mind as among the more memorable ones. Highly recommended! Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dallas Strawn

    I’m not gonna claim to have read the whole thing because I didn’t. But. I skimmed it and read a lot of passages here and there and this book just made me smile so big. It’s so fun....there’s some truly beautiful stories in here, a good bit of humor, and you feel the heart and soul of Ann Patchett’s writing here even in non fiction essays. A great gift book!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dee

    4.5 Oh, my heart!! The main story here of the author's friendship with Sooki Raphael, and her loss... Author Ann Patchett continues to show what an amazing human she is & how well she can portray the human condition. Recommend highly! 4.5 Oh, my heart!! The main story here of the author's friendship with Sooki Raphael, and her loss... Author Ann Patchett continues to show what an amazing human she is & how well she can portray the human condition. Recommend highly!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I love essay collections! I think I've finally realized they are one of my favourite types of book. Contrarily, short story collections often don't seem to impress me very much, even when I do like them (a notable exception being Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, a personal favourite of mine). However, every time I read Ann Patchett I always tell myself this is the last time I'm reading Ann Patchett. This time around was no different. She keeps enticing me with beautiful front covers (The D I love essay collections! I think I've finally realized they are one of my favourite types of book. Contrarily, short story collections often don't seem to impress me very much, even when I do like them (a notable exception being Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, a personal favourite of mine). However, every time I read Ann Patchett I always tell myself this is the last time I'm reading Ann Patchett. This time around was no different. She keeps enticing me with beautiful front covers (The Dutch House is pure art) and I keep falling for it every time. I will continue to fall for it, Commonwealth and State of Wonder being next on my list of her works to tackle. Regarding the cover for The Dutch House, Patchett writes in "Cover Stories": 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 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. The moment comes with a small jolt of electricity. She's certainly right. The cover art went so far as to make it a better book. While These Precious Days was superficially enjoyable, I don't think it was an essay collection that was entirely necessary, and I got the impression that Patchett believed it to be more profound than it really was. I also got the impression that the essays were a little "showy" and even a little narcissistic. Patchett as a narrator sounded really privileged, somehow. But I did enjoy reminiscing on simpler days, and reflecting on the important things in life. It brought a tear to my eye several times in the second half. It was also motivating, at times, for aspiring writers. I just love reading about writers writing. It's possible that my head is still ringing with Natalia Ginzburg's far superior essay collection, The Little Virtues, and I need to "cleanse my palette" before picking up a book like this one. The same thing happened to me earlier this year when I went from Rachel Cusk's brilliant Coventry to Sloane Crosley's I Was Told There'd Be Cake immediately after. My favourite essay was, without a doubt, "There Are No Children Here", and this essay was actually a turning point in my overall opinion of the book. "Cover Stories" was a close second.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I love Ann Patchett’s writing. I feel calm when I read her books and I enjoyed her collection of essays. I loved that she wrote about her writing process and observations about her life, friends and family.

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