ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.



January 2020



The Year of Living Virtuously Weekends Off by Teresa Jordan

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for: Those who enjoy very short essays about life in the mid-west US.

In a nutshell: Author Jordan uses a (very loose) framing of virtues and vices to tell stories about her life and the lives of others.

Worth quoting: “I respect people who keep their promises — when those promises are honorable.”

Why I chose it: I thought it was going to be more in line with, say, an A. J. Jacobs book. It was not.

I purchased this book long ago, and brought it with me when I moved to the UK. As part of my giant bookshelf purge, I decided I need to start reading the books on my shelves before buying more, and this one seemed like a good place to start. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite what I was hoping, and ultimately wasn’t for me, but might be perfect for others.

I thought (especially given the sub-title of ‘weekends off’) that this would be the author’s attempt to live her life according to certain virtues and vices and see what it meant to her day-to-day. Instead, Jordan researched ideas of virtues and vice (drawing heavily from Benjamin Franklin) and writes an essay about a past experience in her life that she thinks illustrates that concept. Sometimes the connection is strong and obvious, sometimes it is subtle, and sometimes it is a bit of a stretch. Much of it focuses on her life growing up on a ranch, which is a life I cannot relate to. So in that respect it was an interesting reading challenge for me.

As I flipped through the book after finishing reading it, I noticed that nearly everything I underlined was a quote from someone else that Jordan included. I think there is a skill there, in bringing in other thoughts and weaving them into one’s own work, but also if I’m reading someone’s thoughts I want to read their thoughts, if that makes any sense.

The writing is good, and the storytelling is at times interesting, but the conceit doesn’t fully hold for me.

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