These Precious Days: Essays


The beloved New York Times bestselling author reflects on home, family, friendships and writing in this deeply personal collection of essays.

"The elegance of Patchett's prose is seductive and inviting: with Patchett as a guide, readers will really get to grips with the power of struggles, failures, and triumphs alike." --Publisher's Weekly

"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 surprising 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 DiCamillo's children's books (author of The Beatryce Prophecy) 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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336 pages

Average rating: 8.38




Community Reviews

Mar 17, 2024
10/10 stars
Lovely. Ann Patchett narrates the Audible, which adds even more to the thoughtful essays.
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Jan 25, 2024
8/10 stars
Fantastic collection of autobiographical essays that were curious, interesting and heart-warming in their honesty and intimacy.

I've never read any of Ann Patchett's books or know much about her, so I really picked this audiobook up without a single preconception about the author. I am completely agreed with other reviewers in that I somehow feel a closeness to the author through her essays, which a ridiculous thought but also entirely true. And, truthfully, never once did it feel like a waste of time to get to know Ann Patchett, and her family and friends and work life.

I'd recommend to anyone who is interested in the life or work of Ann Patchett, or authors in general, or who would just like a change of scenery in their reading.
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Dec 27, 2023
10/10 stars
Lyrical musings on a variety of topics from fathers to choosing book covers to meeting celebrities to caring for a friend with cancer. Patchett gives us something to think about in a lot of contexts and her skillful craftsmanship is evident throughout.
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Aug 25, 2023
5/10 stars
So good! Great collection of essays that give reader a deeper insight into Ann Patchett - her feelings, her memories, her dreams, her bookstore, her marriage … chock full of beautiful stories present and past. I actually enjoy her nonfiction more than her novels. Quite a literary force.
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Aug 01, 2023
10/10 stars
There is something for everyone in this collection, whether long-time Patchett fans, or those just introduced to her. Those who want a little insider’s look into her craft will enjoy the essay on cover art. There's an essay about her relationships with her father and stepfathers, an essay about her relationship with a close childhood friend, and essays about her love of the work of Eudora Welty and how she discovered Kate DiCamillo. There's an essay on how she never wanted to have children, some sections of which are several pages, although she packs as much punch into the sections that are a single paragraph or even a single sentence.

And many more.

And really, who else can pull off an essay about how Snoopy is her role model as a writer, teaching her valuable lessons about rejection letters and how a writer doesn’t need a fancy studio? Ann Patchett is a wonder.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.
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