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

Celestial Navigation

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,679 ratings  ·  183 reviews
Thirty-eight-year-old Jeremy Pauling has never left home. He lives on the top floor of a Baltimore row house where he creates collages of little people snipped from wrapping paper. His elderly mother putters in the rooms below, until her death. And it is then that Jeremy is forced to take in Mary Tell and her child as boarders. Mary is unaware of how much courage it takes ...more
Paperback, Large Print, 288 pages
Published August 27th 1996 by Ballantine Books (first published 1974)
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 Celestial Navigation, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Celestial Navigation

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,679 ratings  ·  183 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Celestial Navigation
Feb 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: hate in a puddle
Recommended to Mariel by: Sean
Sad people are the only real ones. They can tell you the truth about things; they have always known that there is no one you can depend upon forever and no change in your life, however great, that can keep you from being in the end what you were in the beginning: lost and lonely, sitting on an oilcloth watching the rest of the world do the butterfly stroke.

There's a something that you can have because you gave it to someone, a kind of grace or willing warmth. Something of you to light on someone
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was brilliant. Tyler's voices are always so beautifully realized. Every character has such a unique point of view and narration. I especially loved the voice of the woman who opened the novel; I could read a whole book about her.

Yes, it was an excellent book, but...

But it left me gazing at one of the unopened bottles of wine when I finished it.

And I finished it before noon.

Draw your own conclusions.
Derek Emerson
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Tyler's most recognizable feature is her unique characters. To say many of her characters are off center is being polite. Many are just plain strange, but almost always in an appealing way. Tyler loves people, especially those who choose to approach life with their own unique view despite what society tells them. She is not naive about people, and the eternally unhappy person usually makes an appearance, but it is the strange and wonderful which capture her attention.

Celestial Navigation is
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Anne Tyler’s characters are always weird and quirky, but they are also mostly lovable and worth rooting for. I reached for this book because I needed something lighter, happier, more positive than the books I have been reading lately, and wouldn’t you know, this is the one Anne Tyler that just doesn’t give you that.

Jeremy Pauling, the main character of Celestial Navigation, suffers from agoraphobia. He is afraid to leave his house, he trembles and shakes and collapses if he makes it farther
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading the first section of Anne Tyler’s 1974 novel, I believe her fifth, I was swept away by her writing and remembered why she is one of my favorite novelists. The character of Amanda, this strident, spinster is wonderful and I’d have been happy to read a novel where she alone was the main character. This book, however, is primarily about Jeremy, her younger brother, an individual, probably on the autism spectrum, who has lived alone with their mother from birth, has agrophobia and a ...more
Laila (BigReadingLife)
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anne Tyler completists only
Three stars because Tyler is masterful at creating interesting, fully formed characters, but I can't say that I exactly "liked it." I've rarely been so frustrated by characters's actions (or lack of actions in this case.) I've rarely been so relieved to finish a book.
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Almost unbearably sad, a story about two people who need each other and love each other but can't find their way. They misinterpret and misread the cues, both afraid or incapable of speaking their true feelings. A man's desire to be needed, a woman's determination to not be dependent, to not burden him with her need. We can all learn from this wise and truthful tale about our most primitive selves and the misguided way we screw up our lives. I felt myself wanting to hold on to my nearest and ...more
Chris Waterford
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not one of Anne Tyler's best (The Accidental Tourist would come close) but a great character, Jeremy, severely introverted and on the spectrum. I thought the story of his connection to (and disconnection from) Helen engaging. Well written.
Greg Fanoe
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Anne Tyler has had a weird career. She's been a prolific author for decades, but the first one of her novel's that's really considered one of her classics is 1982's "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant", which was her 9th novel. Looking through her list of novels sorted by Goodreads ratings, the most read of her books published before that one was "Searching for Caleb", her 6th novel, which ranks as her 14th most read book. That makes it so that every single novel starting with her 9th has more ...more
Not my favorite Anne Tyler. In fact I would place it as low as it can go, on par with "Patchwork Planet" and "Ladder of Years." There really is no such thing as a bad Anne Tyler novel, but some merely hint at her potential. Such is the case with "Celestial Navigation." It has some of her hallmarks -- Baltimore location, quirky and methodical characters, characters who are stuck in their ways but have the potential to break out into something richer. Such is the case for Jeremy Pauling. Although ...more
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was worth reading, we all should know what it is like to be live life as a dysfunctional person or a person with serious life challenges. I read it to try and understand and to be more compassionate. Reading it did not help me much in how to help those with these challenges. Perhaps the closest it came was near the end when Jeremy is waiting for a bus with four other people. It explains why, as an aging senior, so many people one passes, look through you, past you, or over you, it is fear of ...more
Liza Perrat
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not my favourite Anne Tyler. I couldn't sympathise with the main character, Jeremy. Found this well-written, with great characterization, as all her novels, but a depressing read.
Jill Watterson
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aggie Sanders
Mar 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
The first Anne Tyler book I've ever read that I didn't enjoy. I'm shocked.
Apr 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
First Anne Tyler book I did not care for. I did not finish it. There is no real reason other that I really did not like the narrator's voice at all.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes contemporary fiction
Recommended to Mary by: Bookmooch
In the fall of 1960, Amanda Pauling is surprised when she and her sister Laura receive a disturbing phone call from their younger brother in the middle of the night. According to Jeremy's relatively matter-of-fact tone, "I wanted to tell you about Mama. She has passed on." His reaction just seems awfully peculiar given the circumstances; distant and strangely unemotional.

Actually, Jeremy Pauling has never left home. He is a thirty-eight-year-old bachelor who lives simply and quietly on the top
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
I don't even know what to think or say. I love love love Anne Tyler; some of her books are my absolute favorites but this one? Not so much. It was "interesting".
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Anne Tyler is all about the characters in her books. How they think and dream and yearn and love, often there is all this rich interior life going on, but they can't express their thoughts verbally. The conversations are sparse and often no action happens for a long time, but there is heaps going on in the interior lives of her people. I love how she does this. She makes very ordinary people (whatever they are) leap off the page and tell you their sadnesses and trials from the inside.

Jeremy who
Ross Fattori
Jul 11, 2013 rated it liked it
The protagonist of Celestial Navigation is Jeremy Pauling, a reclusive and misunderstood artist who rarely ventures outside of his studio. With a less talented writer, Jeremy's character might have remained a cliché, a starving artist who sacrifices friends and family for the higher calling of his art. But Tyler brings a level of nuance and understanding to this flawed individual and presents him as a multi-dimensional human being.

Admittedly, Jeremy is not a likeable character (he's selfish,
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
One of my top 10 for 2015.

It has been a long time since I've read Tyler. This was published in 1974 but it has the feel of conveying the 1950s. (really, in terms of technology, there wasn't much new between 1950 and 1985. There was tv and phones.)

The main character, Jeremy, has a severe case of Asperger's' (or autism) with a healthy side dose of agoraphobia. He is lucky enough to have a mother that leaves him a boarding house when he dies so he doesn't have to work a real job and can do his
Mar 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: popular-fiction
Jeremy is a shut-in. He is afraid to leave the safety of his home. This becomes a confrontation when his mother dies and his sisters want to sell the old homestead. But Jeremy is able to make a living as an artist, so he stays. He lives in his own mind, not the moment. He never learned how to intrepret social cues, so he is lost in society. His mother had started a boarding house years ago when her husband left the family. Jeremy continues this practice. It turns out to have an unexpected ...more
Apr 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
I love Anne Tyler and read everything she writes. This is the first book that I didn’t like. In fact, I didn’t even finish it. It was slow-moving and the characters were dull.
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
I love Anne Tyler's writing style and quirky stories and thought I had read all of her novels but I recently found this one at the friends of the library book sale. Tyler's characters are all dysfunctional in their own way. In this story the main character is Jeremy Pauling, a reclusive artist with agoraphobia who lives in the same house he grew up in with a revolving crew of boarders. He is living his nonconventional life of painting, art students and marketing contest entries when Mary Tell ...more
Kay Prell
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Haven't read this one for a while - but believe it is the novel where Tyler has her female protagonist come to think something like this: "women must form a circle around the children, leaving no gaps to be filled by the males." Whew. And by the time she reaches that conclusion, you understand why.
Nov 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to sisterimapoet by: Mew
Shelves: fiction-2010
I liked the way this moved forward through time with long decisive paces. You could clearly feel the changes, or not, in each of the characters. Great portrait of a dysfunctional but still loveable central character. Great descriptions of the art he makes too. Good questions raised about what we would put up with in the name of love, and what we wouldn't. Another very human story from Tyler.
Mary Lou
Nov 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The characters in Anne Tyler's novels are often likeable, even the misguided and unfortunate ones. Here however, there were ones you would struggle with. The moral of the story- that you usually end up where you started from is clear. This study of human nature is as brilliant ( and poignant) as her others
Nov 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
I read Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, thoroughly enjoyed the story, characters, and themes. Celestial Navigation was a major disappointment and really didn't seem to go anywhere. I found the characters to be bland and not seeming to have being or any type of personality. I would skip this Anne Tyler book.
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Told from multiple POV, story of artist/ recluse Jeremy Pauling and boarders at his boarding house. He falls in love with Mary when she moves in, and she proves a catalyst to his art. But he's still agoraphobic. Victorian themes, very well written, based on artist Joseph Cornell (shadowboxes)
Jan Strong
Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: adults
Quirky and different for sure! About a young man with agoraphobia . It is problematic and the characters are amazing. You see yourself in some of them and it is crazy.
Poignant and kind of unresolved at the end so it leaves you hanging.
One of Anne Tyler's very best books.
Feb 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
The story of an artist who is unable to leave his home and his relationship with others. It is told from several viewpoints. I liked this book, but felt the ending was a little abrupt - I wanted more from the story.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the Year i...: Celestial Navigation, by Anne Tyler 1 5 Apr 08, 2019 11:18AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Adults
  • Mohawk
  • Sight Unseen
  • The Killer in Me (Frankie Sheehan, #2)
  • The Talbot Odyssey
  • Some Kind of Peace
  • The Maniac Responsible
  • Happy Fat: Taking Up Space in a World That Wants to Shrink You
  • Go Set a Watchman: A Novel By Harper Lee | A BookMarked' Summary and Analysis (Chapter By Chapter Summary, Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman review)
  • The Ponder Heart
  • Twilight of the Superheroes
  • John Henry Days
  • Everyday Enlightenment: The Twelve Gateways to Personal Growth
  • 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
  • Higher Ed
  • Burning Bright
  • Cheri and The Last of Cheri
  • Horseman, Pass By
See similar books…
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. She has published 20 novels, her debut novel being If Morning Ever Comes in (1964). Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member ...more
“One sad thing about this world is that the acts that take the most out of you are usually the ones that people will never know about.” 0 likes
More quotes…