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Publisher's Summary

A spirited inquiry into the lost value of leisure and daydream.

The 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 18th-century Irish ladies who ran off to live a life of "retirement" in rural Wales. Her search then leads to Moravia to consider the monk-geneticist, Gregor Mendel, and finally to Bordeaux for Michel Montaigne - the hero of this book - who retreated from court life to sit in his chateau tower and write about whatever passed through his mind, thus inventing the personal essay.

Hampl's own life winds through these pilgrimages, from childhood days lazing under a neighbor's beechnut tree, to a fascination with monastic life, and then to love - and the loss of that love which forms this book's silver thread of inquiry. Finally, a remembered journey down the Mississippi near home in an old cabin cruiser with her husband turns out, after all her international quests, to be the great adventure of her life.

The real job of being human, Hampl finds, is getting lost in thought, something only leisure can provide. The Art of the Wasted Day is a compelling celebration of the purpose and appeal of letting go.

©2018 Patricia Hampl (P)2018 Penguin Audio

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Perfect Flow of Consciousness Piece

More often than not, it's my impression that author-narrations are a letdown, but in this case not only is Patricia Hampl a superb writer but also a perfect narrator. The entire book streams out fluidly like poetry as well. Her facility with words is astonishing. It's difficult to explain how this memoir/philosophical/flow of consciousness epic went straight to my heart, but it did. Usually, I'm more interested in the Sciences, but in this case, delving into her thought process was well worth the expenditure. I highly recommend it.