The Art of the Wasted Day by Patricia Hampl

The Art of the Wasted Day

A spirited inquiry into the lost value of leisure and daydreamThe Art of the Wasted Day is a picaresque travelogue of leisure written from a lifelong enchantment with solitude. Patricia Hampl visits the homes of historic exemplars of ease who made repose a goal, even an art form. She begins with two celebrated eighteenth-century Irish ladies who ran off to live a life of "retirement" in rural Wales. Her search then leads to Moravia to consider th...

Details The Art of the Wasted Day

TitleThe Art of the Wasted Day
Release DateApr 17th, 2018
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Travel, Philosophy, Writing, Essays, Biography

Reviews The Art of the Wasted Day

  • Diane S ☔
    3.5 Daydreaming, something often frowned on in our busy society of list makers. To achieve, cross out the things on our lists,but where are we rushing to, where do we hope to get.? Yet, as the author points out it is by daydreaming that we can really see things, observe our surrounding. In her musing of memories past and present the author travels ,but never alone. Many authors of wise words, Woolf,Kafka, Dickens, Whitman, accompany her everywher...
  • Diane Barnes
    I was equal parts bored and fascinated.
  • SabirSultan
    I love Patricia Hampl's work. I have since I was a freshman in college and read her essay, "Of Memory and Imagination." And, I love the "The Art of The Wasted Day."As I was reading this book, I found myself marveling at the review blurbs on the jacket. How to sum up the worlds contained in this .. this memoir, travelogue, love letter to her deceased husband? How do you sum up something that felt infinite in a few sentences? On a surface level the...
  • Sara
    The title almost makes it sound like a how-to manual, but it's anything but. She begins by describing how her childhood daydreaming gave way to adult self-improvement and achievement and to-do lists. After her husband died, and she had her first panic attacks, she remembered how she enjoyed a more Montaigne-inspired existence as a child, 'wasting her life to find it.'It's true it's not a linear narrative, but she states that is not her intention....
  • Rebecca Foster
    A poet’s delight in lyricism and free association is in evidence here. The book blends memoir with travel and biographical information about some of Hampl’s exemplars of solitary, introspective living, and it begins, quite literally, with daydreaming. Along the way the author drifts and dreams through many seemingly irrelevant back alleys of memory and experience. This is a case of form following function: her book wanders along with her mind...
  • Paul Kelly
    Ever since I retired, I have struggled to leave behind my desire to "be productive", "useful" and "busy" and just be able to, as Blaise Pascal said, "sit Quietly in a room alone". The title of this book intrigued me as a "how to" guide to relaxing in my dotage. While the author did provide examples of successful "retirees" (Gregor Mendel, Montaigne, Whitman, Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler), they were buried in an avalanche of self indulgent ph...
  • Oliver Badman
    I loved this book, highly recommend it, beyond it's anti-self help title the book does what it preaches, a demonstration of the way thoughts connect, obliquely or obviously, in a way that is fundamental to our experience of reality. Overall it serves as high-concept comfort-food for the person who's in the passenger seat of life's ever-accelerating car."Life is not a story, a settled version. It's an unsorted heap of images we keep going through,...
  • Kevin Hodgson
    I’m not sure I’ll find a book with a better title this year. And while I too often felt as she were overwriting — and how strange to overwrite on this particular topic — the moments of beauty and contemplation in her sentences kept me hooked, leading me to the final moments of quiet morning, or is it mourning?
  • Davina
    This book was a bit more philosophical and loosely constructed than I anticipated after reading and loving The Florist's Daughter. Maybe I could not get myself in a quiet enough headspace to appreciate it, but this was a slog for me.
  • cat
    A super loosely constructed, almost free-associative narrative that lays out the value of letting your mind wander (and your body with it!). From the Chicago Tribune review, "When Hampl suggests wasting time, she’s not talking about filling hours with mind-numbing surfing on the internet or binge-watching television or shopping for the sake of having something to do. Instead, it’s about being still, being aware, about hearing sounds, really h...
  • Polly
    I kept waiting for this book to start, if you know what I mean. Once I realized I was halfway through, I felt some disappointment that it was more meandering and rambling than the fanciful and whimsical book I was expecting considering the title.
  • Christine
    What is a wasted day? How do we understand, appreciate, and often (unfortunately) overlook the value in leisure? In The Art of the Wasted Day, Patricia Hampl explores her sense of leisure through memory and pilgrimage, conversation and contemplation. I loved her meandering reflections on reading and writing, love and loss, daydreams and Michel de Montaigne's study of the self. Along the way, I learned about the Irish ladies who retired to Wales, ...
  • KimberlyRose
    See Diane's review and my comments on her excellent review. The end.
  • Adam Barr
    Expertly written, flowing rumination on the notion of ease versus work versus productivity -- with an eddy of gain, loss, and love. What do we make with a life, and is toil the only -- or even the best -- way?
  • Randy Evans
    You Wrote This For MePatricia Hempl, your beautifully-written memoir has helped me in such a deep way, I have difficulty finding words to express my gratitude. I have wasted my life seeking accomplishment, even after the death of my wife, and the end of my business career. I plan to spend today and every day walking in the fresh air, reading lots of good books, writing what the world presents, singing, chanting, and praying silence, messing aroun...
  • richard
    I am turning my retirement into leisure time, raising it to an art form. Parts biography, memoir, travelogue, primer on writing, philosophy. I liked this book.
  • ELK
    I loved this book, but it took a strong will to keep my mind from constantly wandering off the page. The Art of the Wasted Day is unapologetically long-winded and vague. Reading it feels like reading a long, long journal entry. Or at least a very heavily researched long journal entry. It is an interesting combination of literary and personal. And it rewards patience and persistence, but in a small, quiet way.
  • Amanda
    This was a Goodreads win for me and I really enjoyed the perspective of the author. While parts of the book are a bit slow, I did like it.
  • Gloria
    This book of observations contrasting the too busy world with the value of stepping off the treadmill is intellectual and a bit dry accordingly, but also offers plenty to ponder.The author is a well-traveled professor who grew up in the 1960s, inhaled literature, and studied music seriously. She is an introvert who loves solitude, yet keeps an intimidating to-do list going at all times. Her fascination with great thinkers takes her all over the w...
  • Birgitta Hjalmarson
    An essay, or so my dictionary says, is "a short piece of writing on a particular subject." In Michel de Montaigne's case, the subject was ostensibly himself. And so he invented a genre, the personal essay, one that Patricia Hampl practices too. The Art of the Wasted Day is a memoir and travelogue. Hampl journeys to Moravia in search of Gregor Mendel, the 19th-century monk, whose research on peas would revolutionize science. She pursues two Irish ...
  • Sharron
    Elegant, thoughtful prose compensates for a loosely structured work.
  • Thomas DeWolf
    Over the past few years it seems the perfect books have come into my life at the perfect time. This is one such book... now in my mid-60's, I ponder a lot more than before (and I've always pondered quite a bit)... seeking "meaning" more than "things," developing a stronger interest in travel... in walking... in day-dreaming... in listening to birds... and along comes Patricia Hampl with a memoir about her travels, her pondering of Montaigne and W...
  • Patricia
    The Art of the Wasted Day by Patricia Hampl makes reference to Montaigne in such a way that sends me to his essays for the first time. I have often meant to read the French writer, but for some reason have been intimidated by the sheer bulk of his output, and the books published often contain the complete essays when I would be satisfied with a selection.Now there is a second book I would like to try as a result of reading Hampl's delicious descr...
  • Dayamati Hayes
    What led me to this book was a review on NPR, which said the book is beautifully written but that it is not easy to find quotable passages that represent the style and tone of the work as a whole. I agree with those observations. Hampl’s essays and vignettes and reflections meander delightfully and return to themes that have been explored earlier in the work. Quoting any one passage is likely to miss the way the passage is adding another layer ...
  • Bill
    The title was what lured me to this book in Parnassus Books in Nashville on a weekend trip. I thought to myself “now there’s a subject I’m going to resonate with” and in fact I wondered if maybe I should have written this book. But of course it’s a memoir, and not mine but Patricia Hampl’s. A quest for the great day dreamers she leads us on with the map of her extensive reading repertoire perhaps a little overly demonstrated at times ...
  • Les
    This book is hypnotic. I can tell you very little in the way of specifics. But I have a strong sense of what the book is about. I imagine I will recall the themes of this book more than a few times, perhaps enough to re-read it in a few years.This topic is actually something I have been contemplating over the last year, as I have effectively "retired". Do I want to spend my time doing stuff (volunteering, gardening, etc), or do I want to spend mo...
  • Ruthmarie
    Intelligent, moving, evocative, elegant, what more can I say? Patricia Hampl is always a must-read. I must have missed the lesson in The Baltimore Catechism that daydreaming is a sin, but it was nuns (from the same school as Hampl) who taught me to dream/daydream and who encouraged my reveries by providing me with the readings and the music to do so. Clearly they fostered this in Hampl too, or even more so, and she shines because she shares. Ever...
  • Debra
    These are not my words but summarize perfectly the value of this book. "But as with any memoir, the main character is Hampl herself. As always, she is on a journey to understand herself, and in doing so, to help us learn how to discover what is most precious and enduring in our own lives. It is an honor to encounter her anew, and to have her gently remind us that sometimes it’s wise to put down our to-do lists and to give ourselves over to musi...