Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Providence” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  820 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Providence is Quinn's fascinating memoir of his life-long spiritual voyage. His journey takes him from a childhood dream in Omaha setting him on a search for fulfillment, to his time as a postulant in the Trappist order under the guidance of eminent theologian Thomas Merton.  Later, his quest took him through the deep self-discovery of psychoanalysis, through a failed marr ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 1st 1996 by Bantam (first published 1994)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Providence, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Providence

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Drew P
May 09, 2009 Drew P rated it really liked it
I just read a few of the other reviews posted about Quinn's book. It seems many people think that he views himself as some sort of savior. Knowing people, I'm not surprised that so many would be threatened by someone who truly possesses wisdom in a world where not too many are wise. If anything, Quinn comes across as humble, recognizing that his place in the world is just as important as that of anyone else.

I didn't just read this book, but I spent time really analyzing it. I have tabs and notes
Gary Smith
May 30, 2013 Gary Smith rated it really liked it
This book falls right in line with Quinn's other novels I have read (Ishmael, My Ishmael, The story of B). It was the least favorite novel I have read by him, much repetition until the last few chapters which I immensely enjoyed. The overall theme of this book and his others is something I really appreciate in this religious-ruled belongs to the world, the world does NOT belong to man.
Rob Allen
Mar 19, 2013 Rob Allen rated it really liked it
I liked this book.
For just the questions it answers about the author himself.
Mr. Quinn has modified my thinking to a certain extent.
I have to know something about a person that does that to my mind.
After reading this and while reading it-
I used the word, "Providence" a lot.
I research the word. Got the meaning clear in my mind.
If you've read a couple books by Quinn and they helped you to see things more like they really are...
Then you'll like this a lot.
Oct 28, 2007 Danielle rated it it was ok
Shelves: recommended
while some of the content was good, I was over all disappointed with this book. Quinn's egocentricity certainly gets the best of him.
Nov 29, 2016 Julia marked it as to-read
I registered a book at!
David Ranney
"The appearance of the Flower Children in the mid-sixties bowled me over. Not because they were dirty, not because they preferred dressing in rags, not because they let their hair grow, but because they'd stopped thinking about the bomb. I hadn't dreamed it was possible to do that. For us, the bomb was new and everylastingly urgent. For them, it was old and boring. For us, the answer was a house in the suburbs and a secure future. For them, the answer was fun and dope and music and sex and love. ...more
Apr 30, 2013 Dwiasty rated it it was amazing
This book is basically Quinn's journey of thoughts which leads him to write Ishmael. For many people it is a religion-shattering-kind-of-book, no wonder since he explained very clearly about his experience of being a religious person, taking us back to our own history (and pre-history) and world's system we are living and change our way of thinking. It got me thinking and questioning many things I've known about my own belief as I read half through the book but in the end I got the answers I nee ...more
Mar 25, 2008 Keith rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who've read Ishmael
The same trouble that I had with If They Give You Lined Paper, Write Sideways is present in this book, and that's that when Quinn writes 'as himself' he comes accross as very full of himself, and rather cocky. I don't deny his ideas are excellent and many of them unique, but it's still just not an attractive tone.

An imagined (?) conversation between Quinn and some mysterious conversant... actually a person who sneaks into the author's house in the middle of the night, oddly. Quinn takes the read
Dec 12, 2011 Mckinley rated it it was ok
Think his ideas come across better in his fiction.
Best lines from p27: It didn't work, of course, but no one in the whole history of the world ever quit magic just because it didn't work. Nobody in the whole history of the world ever quit on anything just because it didn't work - magic, science, politics, love, religion. But especially magic. To give up on magic because it doesn't work would be silly. If it doesn't work, that just means you didn't do it right. That's how you tell you didn't do i
May 03, 2013 Rob rated it it was ok
Glibly written, almost to the point of simple mindedness (especially regarding his philosophy of education-I agree with the spirit of it but has he not read of any already existing alternative schools, like Waldorf or Montessori?)...self indulgent, smug, smacks of the same narcissism I found in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance...and the conceit he uses of an imaginary dialogue with someone who has broken into his house is odd, if not a bit creepy...
Booney2184 McNiel
Sep 20, 2010 Booney2184 McNiel rated it it was amazing
Insightful, inspiring and connecting read. I loved his book Ishmael and wanted to know more about him so I picked up this book. Has great detail and some really beautiful moments described that brought Daniel Quinn to be the author that wrote Ismael. I devoured it quickly wanting to know more the whole way through.
Taryn Fink
Nov 13, 2014 Taryn Fink rated it did not like it
I was hoping after having read Ishmael that this would help me understand it a little better. However, I left this book that as confused about Ishmael, and with the same issues/questions, as I had when I started it. Plus it was incredibly slow going and at times confusing and boring. Not a fan, and I generally enjoy Daniel Quinn books.
Aug 31, 2008 Sharon rated it liked it
Recommended to Sharon by: found it
This explains some of the background of the author and reasons he wrote his previous books, "Ishmael", for one.
From what I understand his earlier books have quite a following.........but I probably am content with reading just two by him. Author has a very interesting background and outlook on life.
Sam Torode
Jun 02, 2014 Sam Torode rated it it was amazing
I suppose you have to read Daniel Quinn's novel "Ishmael" in order to understand this memoir, but I prefer the memoir to the novel. "Providence" is succinct, with provocative and compelling ideas on education, history, and religion.
Cheryl Hebert
Aug 03, 2009 Cheryl Hebert rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Cheryl by: Stephen Hebert
So many good points are made in this book. Too bad he misses the whole message of Christainity - grace - not rules. And turns his back on the God of Christainity based on misconceptions and his erroneous beliefs about what the scriptures actually say.
May 18, 2008 Laleh rated it it was amazing
After reading Daniel Quinn's Ishmael, I was already pretty sure I'd love this book, but it still managed to surprise me. Again, this is a book about life, and the world around us, and how we choose to exist in it.
Jun 27, 2007 De rated it did not like it
I read this after reading Ishmael. While it's interesting to discover the source of the ideas in Ishmael, Quinn's writing style *really* made me tired in this book. The sense I got that he thinks he is the world's savior is a little too much for me.
Feb 06, 2015 Danny rated it really liked it
Good insight into Daniel Quinn's personal spiritual discovery, and what it all means. Answers to the strange feelings we all had as children, and have smothered as we become adults, on our equality with other living things. Why should we not squish bugs? Chop down trees? Harm others?
Feb 07, 2011 abughat rated it it was amazing
Daniel Quinn's personal journey from studying in a franciscan monastery to becoming a humanist, anthropologist and likely pantheist.
Aug 21, 2007 Lafcadio rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Vernor
I didn't get as much out of this one as those in the Ishmael collection, but it was still a worthy read.
Mar 04, 2008 Zack rated it really liked it
This book is a must read to anyone that enjoyed ishmael. It further lays out Daniel Quinn's philosophy and explains what inspired him to write Ishmael.
Dec 26, 2011 Michael rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up, religion
This intensely uninteresting book is by the author of Ishmael, which is about a telepathic gorilla. That's all I'll say.
Roger Mancastroppa
Good. Explains how he came to realize the true nature of reality and how that helped him deconstruct the matrix of civilization.
May 16, 2008 Isabelle rated it it was amazing
Daniel Quinn is a genius. He would never describe himself as such, but he is. A revolutionary thinker. Every book I read of his makes me glad that I tattooed a piece of his work on my body.
DWJ rated it liked it
May 12, 2014
Alice rated it really liked it
Sep 20, 2011
Sean rated it really liked it
Sep 20, 2012
John rated it liked it
Mar 06, 2008
LuSung rated it really liked it
Feb 04, 2008
James MacDonald
James MacDonald rated it really liked it
Feb 18, 2012
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing
  • Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to His Life and Work
  • Small is Possible: Life in a Local Economy
  • A Language Older Than Words
  • Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words
  • The Unschooling Unmanual
  • Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections
  • Zen Its History And Teachings
  • Reflections from the North Country
  • A Desert in Bohemia
  • Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World
  • The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World
  • This House Has Fallen: Nigeria In Crisis
  • Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket
  • The Great American Detox Diet: Feel Better, Look Better, and Lose Weight by Cleaning Up Your Diet
  • Animism: Respecting the Living World
  • Mars Trilogy
  • The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats: The Beat Generation and American Culture
I had and did the usual things -- childhood, schools, universities (St. Louis, Vienna, Loyola of Chicago), then embarked on a career in publishing in Chicago. Within a few years I was the head of the Biography & Fine Arts Department of the American Peoples Encyclopedia; when that was subsumed by a larger outfit and moved to New York, I stayed behind and moved into educational publishing, begin ...more
More about Daniel Quinn...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“[E]ducation is a thing you get past and forget about as quickly as possible. This is particularly true of elementary and secondary education, of course…. I began to remember what it had been like: the tremendous excitement of the first couple of years, when kids imagine that great secrets are going to be unfolding before them, then the disappointment that gradually sets in when you begin to realize the truth: There’s plenty of learning to do, but it’s not the learning you wanted. It’s learning to keep your mouth shut, learning how to avoid attracting the teacher’s attention when you don’t want it, learning not to ask questions, learning how to pretend to understand, learning how to tell teachers what they want to hear, learning to keep your own ideas and opinions to yourself, learning how to look as if you’re paying attention, learning how to endure the endless boredom.” 20 likes
“I prefer to think about problems the way engineers do. If a valve doesn’t work, they don’t say, “Well, we must have valves, so let’s try two valves.” If a valve doesn’t work, they say, “Well, what would work?” Their rule is, if it doesn’t work, don’t do it more, do something else.” 2 likes
More quotes…