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Devotion: A Memoir

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,445 ratings  ·  367 reviews
Devotion’s biggest triumph is its voice: funny and unpretentious, concrete and earthy—appealing to skeptics and believers alike. This is a gripping, beautiful story.” —Jennifer Egan, author of The Keep

“I was immensely moved by this elegant book.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

Dani Shapiro, the acclaimed author of the novel Black and White and the bestselli
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 26th 2010 by Harper
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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,445 ratings  ·  367 reviews

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Elyse Walters
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Audiobook memoir... read by Dani Shapiro.
....”Devotion” was a perfect fit-read for my mood.
Dani’s writing is kinda- phenomenal!! REALLY GORGEOUS!!!

I found it fascinating that Dani’s Father was an Orthodox Jew and her mother was an atheists...

It’s almost impossible not to share the book’s contents.... but my hands are tied.


Dani Shapiro faced her emptiness-her inner struggles - and the losses
Jan 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book was great. I thought it was going to be another project-for-a-year-memoir (like Eat, Pray, Love or The Happiness Project), this time about finding spirituality. But it's much better than that - instead of being a formulaic project, it's a book-length meditation on the meaning of life, on joy, on mortality, and on God and faith. It's beautifully written and deeply absorbing.

Early in the book, it's clear that the author is a pretty anxious person:

"Nothing - absolutely nothing I could put
Joan Winnek
Jul 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My first book by this author, it gripped and enlightened me, and prompted me to order more of her books. A well-written, thoughtful memoir that intricately explores many ambiguities, the book draws from private and particular experiences and circumstances, and doesn't lose its footing as it approaches meaning-of-life issues. It's how we live, explored from the perspective of one woman, and enlightened by her explorations into many traditions and practices.

When I finish a book that particularly m
Mar 04, 2010 rated it liked it
I may take a rest from this genre (middle age spiritual quest) for awhile, even though I liked this book very much. Much like "discovering" motherhood in my 20's and 30's, I'm coming head to head with the visceral knowledge of death as a reality, not just some abstract occurrence in the far off future. It's that time of life when the busyness of children and career start to fade; the importance of things seems inconsequential; the body starts its revolt and the essential "aloneness" of life reas ...more
Feb 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
It's not that I can't enjoy a memoir about exploring one's spirituality -- for all its problems, I really kind of enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love, the book with which this one will inevitably be compared. Dani Shapiro's memoir is blessedly shorter, and far less indulgent, and really struck much closer to home. She's a mom, I'm a mom; her father had a deep connection to and daily practice of his faith, just like my dad has. But for all that, and despite some lovely writing in spots, this left me just kin ...more
May 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
This year, I am interested in reading books about how people find and/or lose their faith, which brought me to this book about a middle-aged woman's search for her own religious and/or spiritual journey. She had a nice style and a nice story to tell, which is why I kept reading it. But by the time I was finished, I felt like I had spent an afternoon talking to a passenger in the seat beside me on a trip across the country. Entertained but not enlightened. I think maybe I have read enough of thos ...more
May 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
I had to work to get through this one. From the very beginning this author sounds whiny and self-involved. As she goes on and on describing her navel, I could't help thinking "Damn! What would she do with a real problem?" Ok...that's not fair. There was a scare with her child, but COME ON! Move on already! As she describes herself in her beautiful home in an affluent area where she probably looks good in her yoga pants, I flashed on Elizabeth Gilbert, whose book I enjoyed much more than this but ...more
I've mentioned this before - and the more I experience the life of a book reviewer/blogger, the more I firmly believe this to be true - books have a way of coming across our path when they are most needed, when they will speak to us the most. Over the past two-plus years, as I have finally started paying attention, I have read many a novel or memoir that resonated with me specifically because they touched on something for which I too was searching. Dani Shapiro's Devotion is yet another example ...more
Apr 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
I think Dani is just not for me. This obsessive, dark and brooding memoir details, extensively, her confused and confusing thoughts about God and her place in the world which, though a relatable struggle, is simply not all that interesting when it's someone else's. I found this to be repetitive, whiny and irritating. It touched upon a lot of Liz Gilbert's thoughts in EPL, but this one lacked the punch and likability and seemed to instead deliver only the stream of consciousness and me me me -nes ...more
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017, kindle
I read this because I’d just finished Shapiro’s Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage and wanted more, but this wasn’t really it. I should have known from the title. In general, I’m just not interested in faith, prayer, and spiritual seeking. Shapiro is a really good writer and that kept me reading, but it was far less satisfying than Hourglass.
Sarah Joyce Bryant
Mar 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read Devotion in two days/two sittings. The structure of the book – chapters starting right where the last ended – made it difficult to find a place to stop reading and I loved it. Dani Shapiro’s narrative was so personal and spoke to me on such a deep level and that structure gave me permission to keep reading…just one more chapter. What Shapiro wrote about: Is this all there is to life? If so, why do I feel like something’s missing?, and the spiritual quest that she began, is something unive ...more
Feb 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
From the first page, I believed that Dani Shapiro was presenting an honest appraisal of her search for herself and the meaning of her life. As she pretty much bares her soul and her secrets, she seems to be exposing her fears and weaknesses in an effort to face them in the light of day and better deal with them. She worries about things that haven’t happened but devises all sorts of scenarios about what might happen and then spends her time trying to prevent them from happening or prepares for t ...more
Sharon Bright
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shapiro has a way about her writing; simple and inspiring. Chapters don't necessarily run in chronological order but at the end you feel you've been invited into her world and nothing is left unanswered. She has a beautiful way of choosing the most relevant moments to share, in order to have you relating and provoked, without necessarily wrapping events into an unrealistic neat bow. This is the third book I've binged of hers. The woman knows her way around a memoir. How amazing that she has gath ...more
Ashleigh Walls
Feb 15, 2010 rated it did not like it
I was really disappointed. After watching Dani Shapiro on the Today show describing her first face-to-face interaction with her yogi ("when the student is ready the teacher appears"), I had high hopes for this book. Instead it was self-serving and whiney the entire way through. Ms. Shapiro's disjointed search to quantify or label her spirituality leaves the reader thinking she is nothing but a spoiled housewife. Nowhere in her story does she practice the true meaning of spirituality -- sharing.
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautiful memoir about searching for answers. Sometimes we pick up books at just the right time. This was one of those cases.
Erika Robuck
Feb 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
“I had begun to feel–and it was a bitter feeling–that the world could be divided into two kinds of people; those with an awareness of life’s inherent fragility and randomness, and those who believed they were exempt…I didn’t know that there was a third way of being…The third way…had to do with holding this paradox lightly in one’s own hands.” (Ch. 57)

Devotion: A Memoir, by Dani Shapiro, was released in January of 2010. This intimate exploration of Shapiro’s spirituality was inspired by her son’s
May 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I think I came to this book at exactly the right moment. Like Dani Shapiro, I am looking to “opt back in” to a religious - or, at least, a spiritual - identity and want to “form – if not an opinion – a set of feelings and instincts by which to live.” Her struggles toward feeling and defining a presence in her life larger than herself especially resonated with me.

Shapiro presents the book in a series of mini-chapters, which do leap around a bit, but which I think symbolize her search for lessons
Siobhan Fallon
Feb 25, 2010 rated it liked it
I find myself using Devotion like a book of daily reflections. I like picking it up and reading one of the brief chapters and then pausing and thinking on it. Very meditative and relaxing, though Dani Shaprio writes this the way she writes her fast paced novels: you get caught up in the tension of the first page and keep reading to find out what could possibly happen next to the narrator. But the questions on faith, and what we should pass on to our children in this world of doubt, resonates wit ...more
Lauren Davis
Mar 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Parts of this I liked very much -- I'm a sucker for sobriety stories -- and Shapiro has a clear, straightforward writing style, but in the end I found the insights not quite as well.. insightful... as I might have hoped. I was anticipating seeing something old in a new way, or seeing something heretofore unnoticed. That didn't quite happen. I didn't find anything new, although a few things I could easily identify with. Perhaps another reader, in a different place in his or her life, would have a ...more
Sarah Fite
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
2nd read. Absorbed every passage.
Apr 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
This woman is an idiot. I wanted to slap her. She needs to do some volunteer work and see people who really have problems.
Ginger Bensman
A memoir about family, faith, and motherhood. Each short chapter is a meditation in its own right. Exactly the book I needed right now. Thank you, Dani Shapiro.
Kasey Jueds
Sep 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I loved, loved, loved this book. Which surprised me, because I wasn't particularly into the Dani Shapiro novel I tried to read. Maybe I didn't try hard enough. Because this book is beautifully written and very, very moving. It isn't really specifically about Buddhism, though it's one tradition Shapiro investigates in her effort to (for lack of better words) get more spiritual (she also explores yoga and Judaism, which is her family tradition). I'm making the book sound silly and lightweight, whi ...more
Feb 02, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, july-2011
As I get older, I am trying to find ways to become satisfied with who I am, and if I am not satisfied, to change. I was looking to this book to portray another 40-something woman, trying to come to terms with who she is. Unfortunately, it didn't really ring true to me. I agree with another reviewer, who stated that if you weren't Jewish or knew of the Jewish customs, you were kind of left in the dark. So I felt like I missed out on a lot of the book, not understanding where she came from or wher ...more
Fred Daly
Mar 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Normally not the sort of book I'd choose, my independent study kid wanted to read it. It's non-fiction, about a novelist's mid-life search for spiritual meaning. She looks into her own Orthodox Jewish roots, explores yoga and Buddhism, reflects on the disasters and near-disasters in her life, and concludes that we have to search for meaning, but we don't have to find the answers all in one place. (Her husband and son are Red Sox fans, but it never seems to occur to her that everything she is loo ...more
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Ugh. I got halfway thru and just couldn't take it anymore. The author was SO whiney and I thought her flippant attitude toward her religion was unnecessary and frankly offended. Maybe she achieves her sense of devotion by the end of the memoir but I have other books to read. Such a disappointment.
Kristin Boldon
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Love this book about writing, yoga, seeking, fearing, and more.

Feb 2017: still love this book, perhaps even more for a slow read to examine how it was put together.
Apr 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
An excellent combination of being both boring and pointless. Plus, her transliterations from Hebrew to English are terrible.
Laura K
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved it and I did a lot of underlining – just as I loved and marked passages in her book Hourglass. I liked how one reviewer (excerpted in the pages before the book began) called Dani Shapiro the “gifted chronicler of frayed nerves”. And another that said the book was “powerful and haunting” and how she did such a good job in bringing other people to life in her descriptions. I agree. It was eloquently written and I relate so much to the way she thinks. There were many observations she made tha ...more
Natalie Shawver
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it
It seems fitting that I finished Devotion shortly after Revolutionary Road (by Richard Yates) as in a way they tie together well. While Revolutionary Road focuses on a fictional couple trying to find their place in the world and navigate society's expectations, Devotion is Shapiro's memoir about trying to find her faith and navigate what life is truly about. Raised Jewish, Shapiro didn't give God much thought - but when her father died young, her son was diagnosed with a scary infant condition a ...more
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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.
“This sadness wasn't a huge part of me--I wasn't remotely depressed--but still, it was like a stone I carried in my pocket. I always knew it was there. [p. 179]” 19 likes
“It wasn't getting easier because it isn't supposed to get easier. Midlife was a bitch, and my educated guess was that the climb only got steeper from here. Carl Jung put it perfectly: "Thoroughly unprepared we take the step into the afternoon of life," he wrote. "Worse still, we take this step with the false assumption that our truths and ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life's morning; for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will by evening have become a lie."
... I was writing a new program for the afternoon of life. The scales tipped away from suffering and toward openheartedness and love. [p. 182]”
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