Rated Reads

No Time to Spare

by Ursula K. LeGuin

Rated: High

A few of Ursula K. LeGuin’s classic and much-lauded novels have been on my to-read list for quite a while, but unfortunately they have yet to make the leap onto my read list. In the meantime, however, I have enjoyed immensely this little collection of essays (originating as blog posts) from the well-regarded author. Her skill with the written word makes any topic she touches on one to savor and delight in.

Thanks to the first set of essays about aging (as she puts it, at over 80, she is not just “older” but truly “old”), I felt compelled to find the appropriate format of the book for my “older” mother to enjoy (but in large print? on a large Kindle? as an audiobook? Because reading itself can be a challenge with aging eyes).

And the “Annals of Pard,” her tales about her current cat, couldn’t help but amuse. Sure, anyone can share a cat photo or video online for a few quick and cheap laughs, but LeGuin’s observations about her “good cat with the bad paws” are utterly sublime.

She talks about the immense pleasure she takes in letters from young readers (but only if they are delivered in their original handwritten — and often illustrated — form) and her takes on Homer and John Steinbeck. (That she was acquainted with that author through a childhood friend who happened to be his niece is just the icing on that literary cake.)

Not surprisingly, she ventures into the territories of feminism, of the economy and growth, of the environment. She rhapsodizes over beautiful music and the talent of actors; she spends more time rhapsodizing over the satisfaction that comes from cooking and eating the perfect soft-boiled egg.

Now that I’ve sampled and savored LeGuin’s wordsmithing, I’ve a taste for more. Come, to-read list.

Rated: High. The book is a collection of essays, and one uses a lot of f- and s-words as it protests the surge in use of those two words in novels and movies and elsewhere. (As she says, “the imagination involved is staggering. I mean, literally.”) And in a later essay she uses the f-word phrase to make an ironic point. Aside from the one essay and that other use, the book is entirely clean.

*I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for about 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • No Time to Spare
  • by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Reviewer: