Now I'm getting the chance to read books I didn't have time for before. Think of me whenever you see the slogan "So many books, so little time!" Now I've got the time.  Cheers, Fred.

No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters

Book Number: 
Date Fred Read: 
April 2018
Fred's Rating: 
Ursula K. Le Guin
Total Pages: 
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) was the widely acclaimed author of more than thirty books of fiction, science fiction, poetry, and essays. This book of essays is a reflection of her life as an author, written during her final year. (For her books I've reviewed, click on her name.)

I bought the hardcover edition, whose Amazon website is

[None of the ISBN-10, ISBN-13, or ASIN numbers on Amazon’s websites for the three editions (Kindle, hardcover, or paperback) are recognized by Amazon, thus the ‘no image Circle' appears. I think this new change by Amazon is not good. However, you can see the images of this books' covers at the website above.]

The home page has a brief review (click on ‘Read more’). A brief Editorial Review further down the home page is the Review that has this book as ‘An Amazon Best Book of December 2017.' But for me the best review is the first Top Customer Review by David Keymer, who reflects quite well the joy I got upon reading this book. I agree with his assessment of her writing: “WHAT A JOY SHE IS.”

I recommend using Amazons’ 'Look inside’ option and scroll down from the front cover to read the next page, which is a copy of the Front Flap of the hardcover edition. The 3-pp Contents show you the variety of brief essays this book contains. The 5-pp Introduction by Karen Joy Fowler (a science fiction and fantasy writer) has no missing pages. This hardcover preview also contains the first essay – the 5-pp ‘In Your Spare Time,’ (October 2010) whose final sentence is “I have No Time to Spare" – an ending that should come as no surprise.

One page is missing in the 4–pp second essay “The Sissy Strikes Back” (November 2010), so I give it here. “I’ve known clear-headed, clear-hearted people in their nineties. They didn’t think they were young. They knew, with a patient, canny clarity, how old they were. If I’m ninety and believe I’m forty-five, I’m headed for a very bad time trying to get out of the bathtub. Even if I’m seventy and think I’m forty, I’m fooling myself to the extent of almost certainly acting like an awful fool.

“Actually, I’ve never heard anybody over seventy say that you’re only as old as you think you are. Younger people say it to themselves or each other as an encouragement. When they say it to somebody who actually is old, they don’t realize how stupid it is, and how cruel it may be. At least there isn’t a poster of it.

“But there is a poster of ‘Old age isn’t for sissies’ – maybe it’s where the saying came from. A man and a woman in their seventies. As I remember it, they both have what the air force used to call the Look of Eagles, and are wearing very tight-fitting minimal clothing, and are altogether very fit. Their pose suggests that they’ve just run a marathon and aren’t breathing hard while they relax by lifting sixteen-pound barbells. Look at us, they say. Old age is not for sissies.

“Look at me, I snarl at them. I can’t run. I can’t lift barbells, and the thought of me in tight-fitting minimal clothing is appalling in all ways. I am a sissy. I always was. Who are you jocks to say old age isn’t for me?

“Old age is for anybody who gets there. Warriors get old; sissies get old. If fact it’s likely that more sissies than warriors get old. Old age is for the healthy, the strong, the tough, the intrepid, the sick, the weak, the cowardly, the incompetent. People who run ten miles every morning before breakfast and people who [End of page 9, continue online with page 10.]

The above two essays are very good examples of the many essays in this book. I found it so hard to put down that I didn’t put it down until I reached the end. I was sorry it wasn’t longer. Then I remembered that she didn’t have much time left to write more. But what she did write in this book is both delightful and truthful. I rate this very engaging book at five stars. If you are old, like me, I say “Think six stars!”