Book Review- Time and the Art of Living

Time and the Art of Living by Robert Grudin

I almost didn’t read this book. At first, I was put off by what looked like a bevy of unrelated quotes….dry and pedantic and boring.  I tried to find a place to hook into the spirit of it, and couldn’t.

I am glad I gave it a second try.  It has opened me to a deeper, more fulfilling way of seeing time.

Each chapter was filled with snippets of thought (never more than a page and a half or so long; some only a couple of lines…..) organized around a central theme, all having to do with time –  in politics, in morality, and in other arenas.

A great deal of the book is spent in consideration of the highly mutable perception of time, and the manner in which many people place too huge an emphasis on the present, without due and relevant attention to past and future.

The book is one man’s lingering journey into the nature of time, how it affects him, how he chooses to use it; it is a treatise on the nature of time to man and to other beings, and how we are ruled by it or freed by it.

Robert Grudin

He quotes wise words, garnered from many centuries of time as humans reckon it, and offers some intriguing ideas – changing the way we measure time to reflect the metric system was my favorite – and perspectives I hadn’t considered.

He also said many things about the perceived nature of work and play, and the dichotomy that many people assume exists between the two.  He spends a good deal of time describing a sense of flow that has become much easier for me over the last few years, and which my children have never unlearned –  the delight of filling one’s life with productive endeavors one is passionate about –  the art of being busy, not to simply be busy and not accused of sloth, but to use one’s time –  one’s life – in ways that renew one from within, that make labor a pleasure.

Time, time, time....

He spends a considerable amount of time discussing a word he maintains is seldom used and even less often understood, in our modern American society –  renewal.  As he sees it, our frenetic speed doesn’t allow for times of rest and renewal, or for much of anything that isn’t scheduled.

Although I see little chance of many of his ideas – that metric time scale I mentioned above; erasing commutes  by creating living environs for workers on-site, and others that would require sweeping paradigm shifts across our culture – there are many concepts that can be individually enacted,  simply by choosing to see time and what it means in our own lives in a new, freer way.

This is sometimes as pedantic a book as I had feared (the author is a college professor, and sometimes that shows in a gently lecturing tone) but not nearly as often as I had originally suspected. It was a pleasant read, informative, and enriching.

Ratings: 1 to 5, 5 highest

Readability: 3; easy to read segments, making it easy to pause to consider.  Occasionally a bit dry for my taste.

Thought-provoking/Perception Shifting: 5; 
So many things to consider, ponder, attempt, and explore!

Credibility: 4; The author was very credible, and his belief in what he expresses is palpable throughout the book.

Overall Score: 4.  A very pleasant, intriguing,  inspiring, and informative.


  1. Thank you for this post, and the mention of the 4 Chicks blog. I recently became aware of Robert Grudin myself, but was not aware of this book. It sounds intruiging and now I want to read it!

    • Pursuingthemuse-

      One of the links I posted with it mentions that this book was part of a trilogy. I will be looking for the other two books, and story ideas are swirling around some of the concepts from it.

      Very worth the read. =)

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