"These Precious Days: Essays" by Ann Patchett is the June book for my Gateway Women online book club. I read Patchett's "The Dutch House" in early 2020 (reviewed here) -- the first and only book of hers I've read, until now -- and I still find myself thinking about it (and enthusiastically recommending it to others), two-plus years later.
"These Precious Days" is an absorbing collection of 22 essays, plus an introduction and epilogue. Most have appeared in other publications; a few were written specially for this collection. It's hard to pick just one (or two, or three) as a favourite, because they're all so good in their own ways, and the writing, as you might expect, is wonderful throughout, with the author's warmth and humanity evident in every page. I could relate to some chapters more than others, of course -- none more so than the one dealing specifically with the topic of childlessness, or rather, childfreedom (Patchett is childfree by choice)(which is probably a big reason why this book was chosen for our GW book club). However you came to a life without children, you will find something to relate to in this essay!
Other essays delve into Patchett's family relationships, with her mother, sister, father and stepfathers, her husband Karl (and his love of flying), her literary idols (Eudora Welty, John Updike), her love of Charles Schulz's "Peanuts," her graduate school experience, knitting, shopping, bookstores (she owns and runs Parnassus Books in Nashville), Thanksgiving, tornados, friendship, her writing process and how her book cover were chosen, and much more. The title essay is the longest, describing her treasured friendship with Tom Hanks's personal assistant Sooki and how Sooki came to spend the first several months of the pandemic with Ann & Karl at their Nashville home. (She painted the picture of Ann's dog Sparky that appears on the cover of this book.)
I debated whether this was a 4 or 5 star read and settled on 4.5 stars, rounded up for Goodreads. :)
This was Book #26 read to date in 2022 (and Book #1 finished in June), bringing me to 58% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 7 books ahead of schedule. :) You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2022 tagged as "2022 books."