No Time to Spare – Ursula Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin took readers to imaginary worlds for decades. In the last great frontier of life, old age, she explored a new literary territory: the blog, a forum where she shined. The collected best of Ursula’s blog, No Time to Spare presents perfectly crystallized dispatches on what mattered to her late in life, her concerns with the world, and her wonder at it: “How rich we are in knowledge, and in all that lies around us yet to learn. Billionaires, all of us.”

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I’ll be honest: this wasn’t exactly a voluntary pick. I usually never choose books like this for myself, being a fiction lover all the way, but as things go, it was an accidental selection from the NYPL ebooks page. I’d been impatiently looking for Wizard of Earthsea for weeks, saw a Le Guin book scroll by, and without thinking, checked it out. Then I opened it up and – surprise, it was actually a collection of her blog posts from the later years of her life! Quarantine being what it is, I gave it a shot and settled in.

The first thing that hits you about Le Guin’s writing is how articulate and lucid it is. She doesn’t bother trying to dress up her thoughts in any kind of style or pretense – everything sounds so natural, yet eloquent and reasonable. Even in old age, she was sharp as ever.

Here, she writes about a variety of topics, from her rascally cat Pard and writing fantasy, to aging and reading her fanmail and musings on belief. She’s calm and wise, yet sassy. Opinionated, but funny and kind-hearted. She’s the kind of person everyone secretly wants as their grandmother. If everyone could channel a bit of her spirit, the world would genuinely be a better place. Reading this book made me feel like I was sitting in a rocking chair on her porch in Oregon and we were just having easy, thoughtful, comfortable conversations, cold lemonade in hand. It’s so strange, the feeling of missing someone when you’ve never even met them.

Le Guin passed away only a few months after this anthology was published. I only wish I could’ve discovered her sooner. What a remarkable woman.

P.S. Where to start with Le Guin’s books, and a good exposition of her life.

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