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No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  5,169 ratings  ·  1,037 reviews
From acclaimed author Ursula K. Le Guin, and with an introduction by Karen Joy Fowler, a collection of thoughts—always adroit, often acerbic—on aging, belief, the state of literature, and the state of the nation.

Ursula K. Le Guin has taken readers to imaginary worlds for decades. Now she’s in the last great frontier of life, old age, and exploring new literary territory: t
Hardcover, 215 pages
Published December 5th 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  5,169 ratings  ·  1,037 reviews

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Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who want to think a bit
Ursula Le Guin is one of my heroes, in as much as I have them. Which is, to say, hardly at all, but her writing has often astounded me, literally impacting how I perceived the world. When I was a teen, The Left Hand of Darkness did more to challenge my conception of gender identity than anything I would read or hear for years. However, her writing has also felt somewhat laborious to me, so when I saw this book of blog-style posts, I leapt at the chance to read it (figuratively, naturally. You th ...more
Diane S ☔
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
It has only been in the last several years that I have added essays into my already cumbersome reading repertoire. As a younger reader I was all about the books, prose and plot, not realizing how much of an author's own self goes into the writing of each and every book. I fell in love with this literary form, such a wonderful way to get to know what is important to an author, glimpses into their personal lives, how they think, and how they feel about things impacting their lives. What may be eve ...more
Diane Barnes
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sometimes it's really nice to spend time with a truly intelligent woman.
Her words speak for themselves.
David Schaafsma
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
RIP, January 22, 2018

Kids used to have a whole lot of spare time, middle-class kids anyhow. Outside of school and if they weren’t into a sport, most of their time was spare, and they figured out more or less successfully what to do with it. I had whole spare summers when I was a teenager. Three spare months. No stated occupation whatsoever. Much of after-school was spare time too. I read, I wrote, I hung out with Jean and Shirley and Joyce, I moseyed aroun
Richard Derus
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 5* of five

I have always had friends, good and close friends. They have always been of all ages, genders, and ethnicities. They have not infrequently cordially loathed each other. To me, each of them was, and mostly still is, a treasure and a boon and a blessing. A dear, dear friend of mine recently passed her 89th birthday and, in a chat we were having today, I mentioned Ursula K. LeGuin and this collection of essays.

"Who?" asked my friend, blankly.

"A Wizard of Earthsea! The Left Hand of
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, blog, essays
This book was published soon before acclaimed novelist Ursula K. Le Guin passed away at the age of 88 on January 22, 2018. However this book was a long time coming, for it is a curated collection from her blog.

In 2010, at the age of 81, Le Guin started a blog. Her decision was not a random one, as she expressed it herself, she did it with a predecessor in mind, Nobel Prize recipient Jose Saramago, who had also begun to blog in his eighties. In her blog Le Guin explains how ". . . seeing what Sar
Aug 30, 2018 added it
I am still learning what kinds of books I like to listen to. What I discovered is that essays don’t cut it with me. I could not stay focused. Parts I was able to concentrate on seemed decent with some good points. But just not my style. Returned to audible.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a kindle format version of this book at no cost, in return for promising to write an honest review. I am a long-time fan of Ursula LeGuin’s writing – especially the books of the Hainish Cycle, so was actually quite pleased to have this opportunity to read and comment on the book shortly before publication.

In the spirit of “no time to spare.” I will offer this quick overview of my thoughts. This is a compilation of entries from Ursula LeGuin’s blog, posted during the years of 2010 thro
Raul Bimenyimana
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a rebound book, in the sense that it was the book I ran to when its predecessor failed to be the pleasurable read I had hoped it would be. And just like the rebound lover, the rebound book is supposed to do several things. Among them, make the reader forget the previous book's disappointments, succeed where there was failure, and make the reader believe in love (for books) again. And just as it is unfair for the rebound lover to have all these expectations and the pressure simply for co ...more
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I expected essays picking up this book, but instead I got a series of random blog posts (or as I liked to call them by the end, "Ursula chats") where she talks about anything from being old, to her new cat, to writing and reading, the great American novel, shopping and so on.

It feels rather random, the selection of those posts and also the things she writes about are so odd, but that is exactly why I found this book so utterly charming. It was like meeting up with Ursula and having chats. Over
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Insightful and incisive series of essays on everything from cats to the Sartre Refusal Prize.

"If we insist in the real world the ultimate victor must be the good guy, we've sacrificed right to might."

I had to read this quote several times to recognize the truth in the statement. Le Guin brings it up in an essay about Homer and how neither The Illiad nor The Odyssey employ wishful thinking; therefore, not fantasy. But, that quote is counter to almost everything we want to believe--wish to be
Ted Morgan
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A lovely rambling and ruminating but uneven collection of observations. Fun to read.
Allison Hurd
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Like her books, her essays are a joy--succinct, measured, honest and yet filled with poetic wonder. Highly recommend this work. Whether you'd like some more of her thoughts on politics, writing, and cats; want more of her beautiful way of distilling ideas; or want to study from a master how to write, this collection will provide a veritable feast for your thoughts.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: i don't say this often, but: everyone
Recommended to jade by: carol.
“meaning -- this is perhaps the common note, the bane i am seeking. what is the Meaning of this book, this event in the book, this story ... ? tell me what it Means.

but that is not my job, honey. that's your job.”

try and picture this:

you are sitting in a small, cozy home. plenty of windows show a view of a lush garden while rain pitter-patters against the glass. there’s little knickknacks on the nearby mantlepiece, and an abundance of cats trying to knock them off.

you’re wrapped up i
Peter Tillman
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Short essays on many topics, all written in the past six or seven years. I particularly liked her cat stories ("Annals of Pard") and a dramatic rattlesnake encounter ("First Contact"), but they're all interesting. I'll probably reread the book sometime.

Her choice of the title was prophetic. Ms. Le Guin passed away on Jan. 22, 2018 at 88. She will be missed.

Here's the New Republic's take,

"In 2010, at the age of 81, the acclaimed novelist Ursula K. Le Guin
Michael Perkins
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book is a compilation of short selections from a blog she kept in the final decade of her life. Some interesting insights, but an expansion of some of these themes into maybe short essays would have been more satisfying.


Ursula Le Guin is incredibly smart and wonderfully blunt.

The first essay is about a Harvard survey she got in her 80's. Her acerbic dismantling of the dumb choices on the survey had me laughing right off the bat.

In one essay she writes....

“Jungians such
This is the first book I have read by Ursula K. Le Guin. After reading this essay collection, I cannot wait to read her popular fiction books. This collection is funny, poignant and charming!
Dec 15, 2017 added it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is an eclectic collection of about forty blog posts by Ursula K. Le Guin, a trailblazing author of feminist science fiction/speculative fiction. She wrote the posts in her late 70s and into her 80s. She discusses getting older, capitalism, politics, religion, Homer, and her cat. She alludes to her “feud” with Hugh Howey (which sent me down a rabbit hole of internet research, because it was news to me and she’s graciously vague). She solves a minor mystery of being weirdly, widely misquoted ...more
I've read three of Ursula's Le Guin's books this year and the year's still young. I suspect that I will read others.

Le Guin is primarily known for her writing in fantasy and science fiction. The first books of hers that I read as a teen were, of course, from these genres. Nonetheless, the three I've read this year have all been nonfiction: her translation of the Tao Te Ching ; a book on writing, Steering the Craft , and now No Time to Spare, a book of her recent blogs.

Nothing was too big o
Ginger Bensman
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays
How is it that I’m just discovering Ursula Le Guin? And why oh why, did it take me so long, when my children grew up loving her Earthsea books and I knew she was there all along?

No Time To Spare is comprised of 14 of Le Guin’s essays that cover a range of topics from her thoughts on feminism, to what it is to be a writer, to the environment, to her cat named Pard. Some essays were thought provoking and riveting, and some (her anecdotes about Pard) mostly endearing, but every selection felt well
Brendan Monroe
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I've never read anything by Ursula K. Le Guin but saw this one on sale so figured I'd start. What I didn't know at that time is that this is really a collection of blog posts about Le Guin's thoughts on everything from politics and modern society to aging and literature.

Le Guin is also most certainly a cat person. Far too many of these essays are about or somehow related to her cat and deal with silly things about how it sits on her lap. I don't know much more than that because, after the first
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
Even in bite-sized, blog-post-style essaylite musings, Ursula Le Guin is a genius.
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I fell in love with Ursula K. Le Guin after reading this New Yorker profile of her and her life in late 2016! (I know, I know, I'm late to the party.) I had never read anything by her, just this one article about her . . . until this wonderful little book of essays published shortly before her death this January.

No Time to Spare is a compilation of posts from her blog. Her blog!! I loved learning that she started a blog at age 80 after seeing that fellow
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
I really enjoyed these short pieces – blog posts – on a variety of topics. They have a casual, friendly feeling about them, but also, almost always, a solid core of real thoughtfulness. Having just acquired a small black kitten, I particularly enjoyed the stories about her black cat, Pard, and also the ones about the lynx and the rattlesnake. Oh, and the one about the soft-boiled egg was just marvelous. And the pieces on aging, on fantasy, and on answering fan mail. Really it was just the politi ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
All the time while I read this, a few weeks ago, I found myself wondering how much longer we’d have Ursula Le Guin. I wonder if the title, No Time to Spare, was intended to be so on the nose. It’s a wonderful collection, full of Le Guin’s personality: her thoughts on ageing, on genre, on books in general, and on her own work. And also her thoughts on her cat, Pard, and one rather mindful piece on the correct way to eat a boiled egg.

It was a quiet moment when I needed one, and I hadn’t even known
Nicholas Kotar
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
THIS is what a blog is supposed to be. Ursula le Guin, having lived a good, long life, can ramble wisely on almost anything. And it's wonderful.

There are some things that I found myself disagreeing with vehemently. But that's ok. It's still wonderful prose.

The post about swearing was seriously one of the funniest things I've ever read.
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Scrappy, witty, and intelligent collection of blog posts and essays published a year before the author's death. Diverse, touching, and unforgettable.
Sebastien Castell
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I’m going to do a lousy job of reviewing Le Guin’s book of essays on aging, literature, politics, and cats. The problem is that I have almost no reaction to the substance of the work, and yet was enthralled by the words. If adoring the prose while being entirely unimpressed by the actual content sounds either bizarre or shallow to you, well, it does to me, too.

I should note that I listened to the audiobook edition whilst walking through London, which gave everything a faintly British flavour to
Ross Blocher
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
In "No Time to Spare", prolific author Ursula K. Le Guin has collected some 44 blog entries and published them together as a collection that examines aging, relationships, recognition, cats, nature, feminism, writing, cats, belief, society, childhood, and cats. The entries are dated but not chronological, and if there is a particular organization to their ordering, I have not figured it out. Some of the stories deliver neatly-wrapped parables, and others end abruptly with an admission of no part ...more
Orla Hegarty
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: friends, feminist, ebook, aging
I savoured this book. It made me laugh. It made me think. And it made me grateful and humbled that this magnificent author shared her personal reflections as a wise elder who excelled at the craft of writing.
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Ursula K. Le Guin published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. She lived in Portland, Orego ...more

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