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Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,903 Ratings  ·  458 Reviews
The best-selling novelist and memoirist delivers her most intimate and powerful work: a piercing, life-affirming memoir about marriage and memory, about the frailty and elasticity of our most essential bonds, and about the accretion, over time, of both sorrow and love.

Hourglass is an inquiry into how marriage is transformed by time--abraded, strengthened, shaped in miracul
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Michael Because she thought that the repetition of the word "Michael" would burden this short, delicate book. (Yes, I'm M.) Nothing is being hidden here, and…moreBecause she thought that the repetition of the word "Michael" would burden this short, delicate book. (Yes, I'm M.) Nothing is being hidden here, and she was well aware that Google would reveal my identity with a single search. (less)

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Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
You know how they say books come into your life at the right time? This is one of those books. Read over my 50th birthday weekend, Shapiro delivers an sharp, honest, and powerful memoir that I didn't want to put it down. I recognized myself so many times in the pages. With this momentous (to me) birthday, time (and its passages), memory (so many of them), and marriage (well, a 20+ year relationship) were all present as I read. Lots and lots of quotes were written down. "The decades between fifty ...more
Haley Sherif
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you'd like to be transported in time, read this. If you'd like to feel how tender your life truly is, read this. If you're a lover of words, of the glint in his or her eye, in the way that thing happened twenty-two years ago, read this. This is a book for the soul. When it comes out next year it will sit with my most cherished - those books come hell or high water - I'll keep.
Julie Christine
Once begun, impossible to set aside. This delicate, graceful meditation on marriage is slim enough to read in one sitting, but it is Dani Shapiro's words and music that held me fast.

She writes of the small cracks that appear with time in even the strongest of relationships; the inevitability of disappointment, even as you can't imagine your life without the other. This memoir is an ode to the glory and madness of joining your life to another's. It is raw and sweet, tender, and rich with truth.
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I know this couldn't have been easy to write, but she makes it seem as if we're just listening to her think. And I mean this as high praise. The story flows back and forth in time and place. And she seems oh so honest. How does she open up like that to share her soul? What does her husband think of this? Regardless, I am impressed and A) will look for her when she visits Seattle (soon I think?) and B) will find more to read from her.

Highly recommend.

I just heard her interviewed on t
Sian Lile-Pastore
I loved this so much! It's so beautiful.
It's a memoir about marriage, about starting out and feeling you're at the beginning and then being married for twenty years and realising you are in the middle somewhere - how all those years change things, change you, how you go through things as a couple and how that makes you change too.
It is tender and real and honest. It really is wonderful.
Thanks to my husband Bert for buying me this - if made me think of our marriage and the years we've had toge
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, memoir
There was a lot of food for thought in this slim narrative. What makes a marriage work? Who are we in relation to our past? I really enjoyed reading this even though it meanders and jumps around and basically has no plot. I read this expecting there to be some sort of revelation or change at the end (divorce? death? why does it have to be something bad?) but it's more like a slice of life and the end hasn't happened yet.
Sue Dix
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This was an ARC. It was a difficult book for me to warm up to. It is well written but just didn't grab me.
Patricia Geller
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Such mixed feelings about this book. She captures the push and pull of marriage and its complications. She writes well and weaves in the views of other writers and yet, even as a memoir, it was so self-referential. Shapiro didn't let you forget her fame, her opportunities and her enormous privilege without showing much awareness of it. She has a life of opportunity and writes breezily of trips afar and of her losses, that we all have, as if they are different. Not universal. It is funny that she ...more
Riva Sciuto
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bios-memoirs
"Change even one moment, the whole thing unravels. There is no other life than this. You would not have stumbled into the vastly imperfect, beautiful, impossible present."


If you're looking for an action-packed memoir, this isn't the one for you. But if you have a penchant for memoirs that are mostly reflective in nature, then grab a copy of Dani Shapiro's 'Hourglass' immediately. Unlike other contemporary memoirs I've read recently, the impetus for writing this book doesn't seem to have been
Apr 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, 2017-reads
I recently listened to one of Dani Shapiro's earlier memoirs, Devotion, in which she chronicles her early life, relationships with her parents, her marriage, experience of motherhood, writing life and the freelance career, yoga and meditation practice, but above all (or underneath all) her Jewishness and relationship to the tradition of Judaism. This new memoir seemed like a supplementary chapter to that earlier book, but without the religious theme. Hourglass is quite short, which contributed t ...more
Gerald Heath
A memoir, meandering, self-indulgent, and not very interesting. It does have the virtue of being short, which was the only reason I finished it. She occasionally turns a good phrase, which lifts it from 1 star to two.
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Insightful writing by one of my favorite writers- Dani Shapiro.
Marriage, middle age, unfulfilled dreams, plans gone astray.
How do we hold on to the one we love, when time begins to rub us until there is bare soul?
How do we stay true to ourselves, our art and each other when life doesn't go as planned?
Shapiro offers deep reflections on these themes and the words are worth savoring.

Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This is a memoir about time and marriage. About how people at the beginnings of their union hope and dream, and how realities of life sink in as time is distorted and compressed. If you're in the mood for moody and melancholy and truth, this might be for you. I don't know that I'd relate to it as I have if I hadn't myself been in a marriage that's lasted my entire adult life. What that 20-year-old woman (girl?) couldn't foresee upon getting married is everything that has shaped me since, all the ...more
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shapiro gives a look into her marriage of eighteen years. This is written in vignettes, so it isn't a linear narrative highlighting each milestone.

I liked the jagged snapshots. We get snippets of life in the present and then the past and back again.

A quick, but thoughtful read.
Some beautiful sentences (Shapiro's skill with language is evident here), but not very satisfying. It feels too short, lazily written from her notes, without a serious attempt at developing a coherent narrative like she did in "devotion" or "still writing."
Jaclyn Crupi
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The word beautiful suddenly seems completely inadequate and approximate.
Bree Hill
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ladies and Gentlemen I finally listened to an audiobook from start to finish! I loved this. I need to get my hands on the physical copy because I want it on my shelf to revisit again.
Hannah Reeves
I enjoyed this short, non-linear snapshot feel into someone older writing about time and their remembrances. Not what I was expecting, but a lovely winter complete-a-book-in-a-day read.
Oct 30, 2017 added it
Shelves: 2017-books
Dani Shapiro is a gifted writer who has written several memoirs. I was going to attend a pop-up book group with her in NYC so I picked up a copy of her latest. Work intervened and I was unable to attend which is really okay. She writes honestly and intimately, but her anxieties and irritations are different from my own. Despite being born in the same year and loving The Bridge on Sirius XM, I was unable to connect with her. This, of course says more about me than her and my lack of affection for ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Fortunately, this book had parts that made it worthwhile. Unfortunately, it felt clunky and disconnected for me. There were no chapter breaks - just 150 looonngg pages of rambling. It was not cohesive or engaging. I found several snippets that were very beautiful writing and it just made me wish there were more. It was more like a scavenger hunt to find the parts that spoke to me. I know I'm in the minority here - many of my friends have read and loved this book - but it just never got off the g ...more
Apr 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sigh...that this beautiful whisper of memoir had to end.

I learned of the passing of a young woman - whom I once shared time with - on the morning I started this book. A most fitting read, as I worked through the emotions that her death stirred in me.

An honest and thoughtful meditation on the nuances of life.

"Time is like a tall building made of playing cards. ... Pick a card. Any card." (p144)
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
A lovely, intimate look at a couple sustaining a life together. Blasted through the first 100 pps, and then had to force myself to take it slow, to read a few pages at a time, like poems. Inspired me to dig back a read Dani's first memoir, SLOW MOTION. Such a beautiful, honest writer.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is written as a collection of moments and thoughts, stream of consciousness style. Shapiro's excellent writing makes the book.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book that I read much too fast. I couldn’t stop myself. But I will read it again. And I highlighted liberally. There’s so much to savor and think about. I especially enjoyed the musings on marriage over the long term, and the parts about the many selves within us, how they all contribute to the present moment. I love to think about the tricks that time and memory play, how memories evolve, how a life is shaped and lived and relived. A glorious read. Below are just a few of my many hi ...more
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It begins with a quote, “Let me fall if I must fall. The one I will become will catch me.” — the baal shem tov.

In 150 pages, Dani Shapiro writes a memoir that reflects on the relationships, choices and unplanned events that are the threads in her life's tapestry. It's beautifully written vignettes of memory, relationships, choices, unplanned events and who we become. What I most appreciate is how she captures the soul and concerns of a long-term relationship. She is honest. Life can be okay and
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
When I heard about this book about marriage from friends and then a podcast (Just The Right Book), I thought it was going to be a bad story of marriage and betrayal and divorce and violence. Why did my mind go there? That's not what this book is about. It's about falling in love, having a kid, compromising, remembering conversations, going through every day, traveling, jobs, encouragement, disappointment, moving forward, tasks, etc. It's about Dani and Michael's marriage. Both are alive and work ...more
Kathleen King
Jun 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't stand her pretentiousness -- why can't she use her husband's name? The tone drove me crazy, her writing style was sloppy and I found it hard to believe she could sustain a career. It turned into a revenge read for me -- I bought it I'm going to finish it but never again for this self-absorbed, whiny pretend writer.
Sharon Bright
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really really enjoy Shapiro's style of writing.
Laura K
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars (would've been 5 stars but did annoy me that she referred to husband as M. when her husband's name is easily found on internet). Loved this book. Easily read in one sitting even though I wanted it to go on longer. It really struck a chord for me - probably because I am close to same age as author when she wrote book and married similar length of time. Loved the writing and the way it was written. Such moving and real passages on marriage and getting older. Although a short book, I unde ...more
Sarah Fite
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Having read several of Dani Shapiro's books I started Hourglass with high hopes. But the first many pages seemed disappointing, disconnected, reaching. And then I saw it, and I connected to it, and the spiral nature of this piece of writing became clear, and the voice found itself--which I believe was the hidden, perhaps unconscious, intention all along. I have a feeling this book is not for everyone, that many will wonder about the point, or not find the material revealing enough (there are few ...more
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I am dying to read this book! 1 8 Nov 28, 2016 03:17PM  
Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Hourglass, Still Writing, Devotion, and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. She lives with her family in LItchfield County, Connecticut. Her latest memoir, Inheritance, will be published by Knopf in January, 2019.

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“Oh, child! Somewhere inside you, your future has already unfurled like one of those coiled-up party streamers, once shiny, shaken loose, floating gracefully for a brief moment, now trampled underfoot after the party is over. The future you’re capable of imagining is already a thing of the past. Who did you think you would grow up to become? You could never have dreamt yourself up. Sit down. Let me tell you everything that’s happened. You can stop running now. You are alive in the woman who watches you as you vanish.” 8 likes
“I've become convinced that our lives are shaped less by the mistakes we make than when we make them. There is less elasticity now. Less time to bounce back. And so I heed the urgent whisper and move with greater and greater deliberation.” 7 likes
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