Friday, November 18, 2022

Nonfiction Review: These Precious Days

I usually try to write my reviews in the order I read the books, so according to that rule, I should be writing about another (very good) book, but I just finished listening to These Precious Days by Ann Patchett yesterday on audio, and I couldn't wait to tell you about this warm, funny, moving collection of personal essays by the renowned novelist.

Ann has put together a wonderful collection of personal essays, written at different points during her writing career. Some were previously published (there's even one that was a talk she gave), but she says that most were revised and updated for this collection. While the topics sort of jump around, as a whole they cover her entire life, from childhood to unsure young adult to author to bookstore owner. It's difficult to review such a varied group of essays, so I will highlight some of my favorites. In the first essay in the book, Three Fathers, Ann describes her biological father, her stepfather as a child, and her second stepfather when she was an adult. She talks about what makes each of them special and unique and delves into her relationships with each of them. Either here or later in the book, she also describes the end of each of their lives and her role. All of her father writing was very moving to me, as I lost my dad seven years ago and helped my father-in-law the past few years during his slow and difficult decline. 

But, I don't want you to think this is a depressing book. Certainly, Ann tackles some difficult topics--including death--with honesty and openness, but the collection is a lot of fun, too. She has a wonderful sense of humor, which comes across in many of her essays, including To the Doghouse, where she writes about how she was a Peanuts-obsessed child and how Snoopy was her greatest influence in wanting to become a writer. Beside the amusement of listening to this delightful essay, I could so relate to it, as a fellow Peanuts-ophile who read all the books and had Snoopy everything as a kid (I still wear a Snoopy watch!). Similarly, her descriptions of discovering Kate DiCamillo's magical books as an adult were pure pleasure that had me smiling ear-to-ear as I listened. The heart of this collection, though, is its title essay, These Precious Days, that recounts the bizarre chain of events that led her to a life-changing friendship with a woman. Sookie worked as Tom Hanks' assistant, and--through a series of events I will leave you to discover yourself--she ended up living with Ann and her husband in Nashville during the pandemic while undergoing cancer treatments. Ann writes about Sookie and the strange course of their relationship in a loving, tender way. In all, there are 22 essays here, and each one is unique and wonderful in its own way.

I loved every moment of this book! The essays are each very different, yet linked together in a way that paints a picture of Ann and her life, and the people she loves. She is very close to my own age, so there was a lot I could relate to in her memories of childhood and her relationships with her parents. But, I was also fascinated by the inside look into her life as a famous author and bookstore owner (I must get to Parnassus Books!). I wish I could share some quotes or excerpts with you, but that is one downside of listening to an audio book. However, I would definitely recommend listening to this book on audio, hearing these beautiful stories told directly by Ann (listen to a sample from the introduction). I always enjoy listening to memoirs read by the author, but this one is extra-special. I am, though, thinking of also getting the print copy of this book because I think this is one I will want to return to. This wonderfully-written collection of essays is moving, funny, heartfelt, and powerful. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

336 pages, Harper Perennial


This book fits in the following 2022 Reading Challenges:


2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge

Literary Escapes - Tennessee


Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here, read by Ann Patchett, from the introduction, and/or download it from Audible.


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  1. A wonderful review, thanks for sharing your thoughts!