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No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,005 ratings  ·  699 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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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,005 ratings  ·  699 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
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
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.
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 beli
Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
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
Ted Morgan
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A lovely rambling and ruminating but uneven collection of observations. Fun to read.
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
Tiffany Reisz
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great collection of Le Guin's blog posts. The star of the show is really Pard, her kitty. Highly enjoyed it but then again, I got it 50% off. I doubt I'd love it as much if I'd paid full price. ;)
Anna Kander
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 or to
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
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.
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
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
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
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderful little set of ephemera from Le Guin's blog that will please her admirers (like me). I haven't read any of her non-fiction, so I welcomed the change to meet Ursula the Naturalist, Ursula the Literary Critic, Ursula the Elder, Ursula the Cat Companion. Basically Ursula the Person, not the Author. Which got me thinking about the blog as an expressive form that lost its appeal for me as a reader back in college and as a writer in grad school. I think I stopped reading because my friends ...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
Arielle Walker
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.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm strangely on an Ursula K. Le Guin kick - which is fine by me! I mostly enjoyed this collection of blog posts/essays by Le Guin. There was a good variety, from deep questions about our current political climate, to anecdotes about her silly cat. Some of the essays were very prosaic (i.e. "writer-y"), which makes sense since, you know, she's a writer.

I'm not in 100% agreement with all of her ideas, but Le Guin's writing does make you think about issues from a new perspective. I love it when w
Susanna Sturgis
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. In a way that's not surprising: for years -- decades! -- I've been dipping in and out of her earlier essay collections The Language of the Night and Dancing at the Edge of the World and her astonishing novel Always Coming Home. Her writing book, Steering the Craft, is within easy arm's reach of the chair where I do my writing and editing. I've read many, but by no means all, of her novels and short stories, and reread quite a few of them more than once.

Still, I didn't find her
Kerri Anne
This book is a gift, just like Le Guin herself was. I've long loved the honest and masterful way she strings words together, the way she weaves her stories, builds her worlds, lets her readers into the very fabric of her magic. But this collection of nonfiction essays, published in 2017, is something else entirely, and feels so sacred in light of the (literary) world (and beyond) losing her just a week ago.

Le Guin's is an authentic, powerful, wryly amused voice. These essays feel like sharing a
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays
This is the third essay collection I've read in the last couple of years, and it is, by far, the best. The other essayists were younger by decades, which probably had something to do with it.

No Time to Spare is arranged loosely by theme into four sections, with some charming entries about Le Guin's cat, Pard, in between. The first section, about aging--her own, and in general--and the fourth, mostly about nature, were the ones I enjoyed most.

Since many of these essays were initially blog posts,
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
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018
These are a different kind of essay because they originally were blog posts. They are not arranged chronologically but by topic, sort of. Each section has a title but I wasn't always aware of the connection of some of the essays within a section. But it didn't matter. I loved the ones about her cat, Pard. I am a big cat lover so any discussion of cats is right up my alley. I was intrigued by her few references to writing and receiving letters from fans. It has never occurred to me to write to an ...more
Cynthia Egbert
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, own-and-read
I don't even know how to express my gratitude that Twila read this book and reviewed it so that I could be made aware and drawn to it. I checked it out from the library but quickly realized that I had to purchase my own copy. Of course, nobody thinks exactly as I do and I have my differences with Le Guin, but she speaks my mind many times in these essays/blog posts in ways that I have not yet been able to express.

I have a ton of quotes to remember...

"Writing is a risky bidness. No guarantees. Y
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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
“It appears that we've given up on the long-range view. That we've decided not to think about consequences—about cause and effect. Maybe that's why I feel that I live in exile. I used to live in a country that had a future.” 9 likes
“A decision worthy of the name is based on observation, factual information, intellectual and ethical judgment. Opinion—that darling of the press, the politician, and the poll—may be based on no information at all.” 9 likes
More quotes…