I haven't read all of Ann Patchett's books, but I've read enough to count her as a favorite author of both fiction and non-fiction. These Precious Days is a collection of essays, a sequel of sorts to This is the story of a happy marriage. I listened to the audiobook, which was read by the author. It earned every one of the five stars I awarded it on GoodReads.
I loved hearing about Patchett's writing life, and consider those that explored this topic the best overall. From childhood, she was determined to be a writer and it was interesting to hear how her drive to develop and use her talent for writing was always foremost in her mind when she made life choices--what to study, where to study, whether to have children, etc. I absolutely loved the essay "To the Doghouse," in which she credited Snoopy and Charles Schultz for inspiring the shape of her writing life. Later, when she talks about how reading and rereading Saul Bellow and John Updike informed her literary style, I remembered that before Saul and John, there were Peanuts books that really laid the foundation and taught her life lessons that she carried into her career.
I also loved reading about who she likes to read, and I have added Kate DiCamillo to my list of authors I need to read. I rarely think about reading children's book, but clearly DiCamillo is writing for the ages. I also plan to get some Eudora Welty short stories and I've added Tom Hanks' book Uncommon Type to my tbr list.
The Tom Hanks book is the bridge to the title essay, "These Precious Days," in which Patchett becomes friends with Hanks' assistant, Sookie Rafael, whom she meets when she interviews Hanks at a book event. This is an incredibly moving essay about friendship, love, generosity, pain, and the joy of living.
I am looking forward to listening to this set of essays again later this year on a roadtrip. Patchett is great company and these essays are interesting, thoughtful, and beautifully written.