OutreachNC’s 2019 Book Club: Our Souls at Night

This month we’re reading Our Souls at Night, per Jeeves’ rave review. Here is what we think about Kent Haruf’s last novel, a beautiful and sometimes painful reminder of the power of the slow unfolding of language, emotion and love. 

10 Thoughts on Our Souls at Night

1. Yes – there is a movie. Yes – it stars Robert Redford. No – you should not skip the book, which is worth it for no other reason than Haruf’s writing. 

2. The main plot of the book is that two widows find comfort and connection with each other after several years alone. It seems simple, right? But if Haruf shows us anything (in any of his novels) it’s that simple is often an illusion and is rarely synonymous with easy.

3. Even if you aren’t a widow, haven’t been married, don’t have children or aren’t yet retired, Louis Waters and Addie Moore are still relatable, and their pain and joy resonate with readers of all ages and backgrounds. There is something very human about the stories Kent Haruf tells, which makes them classics in their own time. 

4. Our Souls at Night is a reminder that sometimes we can only process our own past by sharing it with someone else. 

5. Don’t be fooled by this novel’s slow start. There is heart in the story that comes out the way it comes out in life, developing slowly at times and then, suddenly, just when the reader is ambling along, it comes straight at you like a freight train. Be prepared. 

6. One of my favorite quotes from the novel is on page 42 when Louis says, “I missed some kind of call to be something more than a mediocre high school English teacher in a little dirt-blown town.” How many of us haven’t felt, at one time or another, that we missed a calling for something more? 

7. One of my other favorite sentences in the book is on page 147 when Addie says, “Who would have thought at this time in our lives that we’d still have something like this. That it turns out we’re not finished with changes and excitements. And not all dried up in body and spirit.” 

8. Jeeves gives this book 4 out of 5 stars, taking a star off for the lack of animal life in an otherwise near-perfect novel. 

9. If you loved Our Souls at Night, you may also enjoy Plainsong (Kent Haruf), Eventide (Kent Haruf), Last Bus to Wisdom (Ivan Doig) , News of the World (Paulette Jiles) and Crossing to Safety (Wallace Earle Stegner) 

10. Our Souls at Night makes me want to sit with the people I love and hold them tighter and longer, with a little more intention than ever before. 

That’s it for us this month. Next month, we’re looking forward to Barbara Ehrenreich’s Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer

I know. That sounds nothing but upbeat and positive. Seriously, though, we’re digging in. 

We love sharing books with everyone and anyone who’s got a review, comment, thought, critique or favorite quote to send along. Feel free to write to us at editor@outreachnc.com and let us know your thoughts on Haruf’s classic. 

Now go run a hot bath or prop your feet by the fire and get reading.