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Fifty Days of Solitude
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Fifty Days of Solitude

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  128 ratings  ·  25 reviews
A New York Times Notable Book

Faced with a rare opportunity to experiment with solitude, Doris Grumbach decided to live in her coastal Maine home without speaking to anyone for fifty days. The result is a beautiful meditation about what it means to write, to be alone, and to come to terms with mortality.
Hardcover, 114 pages
Published November 30th 1995 by Beacon Press (first published 1994)
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I discovered Doris Grumbach through a GR friend's review, and finding "Chamber Music" to be a 5 star read ( picked out this slim volume on one of those topics that ceaselessly fascinates me.

I have a little grumble with this book in that my definition of "solitude" would be more absolute. She received a prodigious amount of mail and had ample opportunity to have human contact with people in a community she was well acquainted with, though she does largely
Laura Lee
When I read a book like this I feel, essentially, envious. I don't understand how someone gets to publish a book like this. It is an edited journal of the author's thoughts about the books she is reading and her inner states during a period living alone. My journal is full of this type of observation, and I generally consider the musings to be material, not finished product. That is not to say that her reflections are entirely uninteresting.

If I were to suggest to my agent that I publish a clea
I used this book during my morning meditations and very much enjoyed the thoughtful reflections on solitude, that elusive thing, that we so often long for and then squander when we are gifted with it. Grumbach reflects that solitude takes on a deeper meaning as we age, and I certainly can agree with that. The older I get, the more willing I am to trade in the restless energy of youth for the quiet, if at times a bit lonely hours. Much like the author, I find that solitude elicits a craving for m ...more
she didn't have much to say. it was basically notes from her solitude very little of which was worth reading.
Sondra Wolferman
"I was now alone with music, books, an unpopulated cove, and with the frightening reflexive pronoun, myself," explains the author about her experiment in solitude. What she fails to mention is that she also had television, radio, music, and a computer, all of which she employed on a regular basis during her solitary sojourn in an empty home in coastal Maine. This might be the Twenty-first Century version of 'solitude', but it is not my definition of solitude. Watching TV, listening to music, and ...more
Head-clearing and peaceful ruminations that introverts will savor. Can simulate a few hours of solitude at least. Lots of gems like, " somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure...without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures" and "There are individuals who feel their senses separate them from the real, from being. That sense in them infects their other senses...W ...more
Madonna Analla
This was a great book because it covers a lot of the nuances of solitude that a lot of people don't expect when they think about the experience of solitude. Such as, being startled by the sound of your voice after you have been silent for a couple hours. I've also found that being unemployed, I've related to many of the experiences in this book.
This book is a little too random and jumbled for an enjoyable read. It appears the author pulled snippets from her personal journal, collecting them without much thought to order. Many of the entries are simply book reviews without enough commentary to become universally helpful. Pass on this one.
I want to reread this periodically as I age.
John Orman
Described as "a book to grow old with, even before one is old," this book tells of the author's 50 days of being alone in a Maine home. She describes what it is like to be alone, to write, and come to terms with one's mortality.

After all that, she describes a reunion of the inventive spirit with an enlivened world.

This was an interesting read... I don't think it is really a book per se, more like private, edited, journal entries or blog entries all presented together. I found some of her musings thought provoking but overall it felt like she was self-consciously trying to sound intelligent and profound. She has a couple of moments of real insight, but most of the time I found her a bit pretentious.
Honestly, I can't remember much of anything. All I remember is her mentioning some Edward Hopper paintings. She pretty much rambles around just as her days ramble around. She talks of the weather, books, music, but there's no earth-shattering realizations, or even any personal insights. I just couldn't waste anymore time reading something that
really has nothing to offer.
A quiet book (ironic, no?) that sneaks up you. Although, admittedly, I struggled with feelings of complete and utter envy. Who wouldn't want 50 days of solitude-- never to be punctuated by television, radio, phone, etc??
I am now looking forward to my weekend away this fall with that much more anticipation. I can't get 50 days-- I'll take the 50 hours though. :)
Barbara Richardson
My first Grumbach non-fiction. I enjoyed the quotes she included from authors she read throughout her retreat. The book has no dramatic arc, but the snippets of time spent solo and quiet really did give my days a reflective feel. And having read the first half of the book, an essay came barging out of me one night, in bed! That's a tribute to good writing.
Christy Woolum
Grumbach's book was a perfect read when I was sitting in the woods camping yesterday. I think all of us miss out on so much in the world because of the distractions of noise, talking, electronic devices, and bad news. I don't think I can do fifty days of solitude, but as I continue writing, I am going to try for a few.
Ms. Grumbach spends fifty days living mostly in solitude-no phone, TV, paper or visitors as an experiment. This slim volume is a collection of thoughts and experiences she had during time. A very real look at one persons attempt to live a solitary life.
Herman Plasmans
Is this solitude or loneliness
I think solitude
Quitte interesting are the meetings with other people
I give 4 stars, because in this genre I prefer May Sarton
This book was a dissapointment. Perhaps it was the age of the author, and thus the things she contemplated and the number of people dying around her, but I could not relate to this author's experience of 50 days of solitude.
An interesting _Walden_ but in more modern times, in Maine, and with a woman.

Sometimes we must be outside our lives for a time in order to know how to reconnect to our lives.
50 days for pensive reflection, an isolated cabin in the Maine wilderness ... it may not be for everybody, but I envy Grumbach her time there, and enjoyed her memoir.
Great book about the challenge of truly being alone. Recommend anyone who is a creative person to read it and then contemplate some completely solitary time!
A non-fiction "novella", very long essay, which lacked focus for me in spite of the author's good writing skills.
Carly Svamvour
Dunno' where I got this one.
Can you say, "Self involved?"
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