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TAKING RETIREMENT CL: A Beginner's Diary

3.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807072189
ISBN-10: 0807072184
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As he neared the end of his five-year period of progressive retirement, Klaus, founder of the nonfiction writing program at the University of Iowa, was perplexed to realize that he still wasn't ready to exchange his professional status and the admiration of his writing studentsAlet alone his campus officeAfor the respected, if somewhat toothless, title of professor emeritus. Thus he turned to the writing form he had been teaching in order to grapple with the problem. This journal, which begins with his last semester of classes and ends at the start of the new academic year some nine months later, chronicles Klaus's growing acceptance of his change of life. With several books in print, a loving wife, a passionate interest in gardening and food and a healthy pension, he is free of the terrors of loneliness, boredom and poverty. Still, for much of the journal, despite the brisk advice of his wife and some female friends to get on with his life, he mourns his prospective loss of status. There are no stunning revelations, merely a gradual accommodation to his new situation and, ultimately, the surprised realization that he's glad no longer to be teaching. Klaus's circumstances are so fortunate that his concerns are likely to appear remote to many prospective retirees. Nevertheless, the issue uppermost in his mindAthe loss of identity resulting from retirementAwill speak to most. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Klaus, the founder of the University of Iowa's nonfiction writing program, has published two previous journals. Faced with the prospect of retirement, the seasoned diarist called once again upon the familiar format to record the everyday activities and personal ponderings that occurred during this most significant transitional period in his life. Detailing the practicalities of retiring as well as the range of emotions brought forth by the process of separating from the university environment, Klaus' book, with its insight, candor, and rare command of the journal form, will pique the interest of anyone contemplating the possibility of retiring. It ought to be required reading for those readers who know retirement is looming on the not-too-distant horizon. Alice Joyce
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (October 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807072184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807072189
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,282,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Just ending the first five months of my own retirement, I bought this book looking for some helpful advice. What I found was an honest, fascinating book about a person going through a life transition and not being afraid to share his experience, warts and all. It is a tremendously helpful book not only for its information but also as a model of great journal writing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I looked forward to reading this book but was a bit disappointed in reading it. I wanted very much to like the author and his take on the retirement process, but it seemed like he dithered and fussed so much over the "should I or shouldn't I" and "do I really want to do this" struggle in his own mind, that it began to wear thin, to seem redundant. He also seemed peevish and indecisive about the issue of keeping an office at the university as an emeritus prof. And his financial situation was also picked over a bit too thoroughly, until a certain air of smugness seemed to prevail, with numerous references to his very comfortable pension and health benefits through TIAA-CREF, as well as to what sounded like a very luxurious life style, with gourmand tastes and fine wines often cited, lunches in fine restaurants. Then there is the vacation trip he takes with his wife soon after his retirement takes effect. Lotsa money involved, or so it seemed. Finally Klaus seemed to come across as a little too self-involved, too "all-about-me-ish," something even his wife commented on, as she apparently reads his various entries in the journal. Not that he really changed his ways.

Klaus writes well - no surprise as he taught English at Iowa for decades. I just kept wishing there'd been a bit more personal stuff here, that it had been more of a memoir. But maybe I wouldn't have wished for that if I had read his previous two books, which I haven't. I suspect there may be more of his life in those books. Klaus is obviously an avid gardener, which he apparently wrote at length about in his other books. Having a "brown thumb" and little interest in gardening, I'm not sure I'd want to read the earlier books.
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Format: Paperback
I recommend you read "Taking Retirement: A Beginners Diary," a diary of a personal journey, an examination of values, a search for answers. You can read it to learn about the author's journey; or perhaps, you can read it to share his quest while seeking answers to your own questions, allowing someone who has struggled with this transition to guide you. Let him help you answer your own questions about the role of work in your life and your future as you transition from an identity anchored in job and daily routine to a more unstructured daily life, a new life with an opportunity to spend the time in your own way.

You could also read this diary because the stories are entertaining, especially wife Kate's education about washing fresh vegetables while on a trip, or the insight learned from a visit to an ancient scholar's study in the classical Chinese pavilion in Vancouver. Or, you could read it to appreciate the writing, noting the sense of flow, appreciating how the parts fit together smoothly, and the sense of focus, observing the clear unity of the whole. There is a simple understated style in this diary--the words don't shout at you, they don't compel you--"notice me," but the writing reflects measured choices, choosing not just what to write but how. The style is not like a translucent window--to be looked through solely for the underlying ideas. It is more like finely cut beveled glass--to be looked at, to be appreciated, to be enjoyed.

This diary also tells of the author's love of gardening and his writing. But, truth be told, I believe his real passion is eating.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have now read this fabulous book four times. Each time I glean something new from it. Not only does Dr. Klaus echo my sentiments about teaching ( I did for 32 years) but I also had the same struggles he so beautifully describes on paper. His thoughts are extremely honest and he is so candid about his own shortcomings. I do see the influence of E.B. White in his work too- they both went to Cornell and Dr. Klaus would be the first to say how much he admires White.

The book also documents his frequent meals at home and they sound so delicious that I wrote down a few of his ideas (for steamed cauliflower and marinated steak).

All of his books are worth reading but I would say this is the one that has really helped me to come to grips with my thoughts about hanging up my spurs. It was recommended to us at a retirement workshop by a former Ithaca College professor and I'm glad he mentioned it. He had three others books on a reading list but Dr. Klaus' s book overshadows them all. Buy it and enjoy it!

Other reviews have mentioned how "self-absorbed" he seems but to me that's the great strength of the book- his brutal honesty.
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