Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World
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The daughter of the prestigious “astronomer of the people” offers ethereal wisdom and worldly guidance based on the philosophy of her parents.

Sagan’s debut, a lushly written amalgam of memoir and manual, traces her life as the daughter of Carl and writer/producer Ann Druyan and how she came to appreciate the wonder in the everyday. Raised in a secular household, the author was educated through straightforward scientific explanations, but her father’s death when she was just 14 left more questions than answers. More than two decades later, she carries on his guiding principles within her own family. In her first book, she ponders a variety of rapturous events, milestones, ancestral influences, and sage affirmations on life and death. The author offers commentary on her and her husband’s semisacred daily rituals, affording readers intimate glimpses into their coupling, wedding ceremony, joyful togetherness, misunderstandings, and sweet reconciliations. She shares fond memories of her family home, where world history frequently became an educational opportunity, and reveals the reverent methods she now employs to spiritually reconnect with the memory of her beloved father. Sagan’s narrative is heavily steeped in rituals: lighting candles, costuming, or meditating on and celebrating significant events and milestones in her life. Early in the book, the author remarks on the staunch secularity of her parents, an independent perspective and lifestyle passed down to her and her family. She open-mindedly explores the differences between those who have become ossified by religious protocol and those who rejoice in unfettered enjoyment of the natural world and the science underlying nature’s beauty. “Religion, at its best, facilitates empathy, gratitude, and awe,” she writes. “Science, at its best, reveals true grandeur beyond our wildest dreams. My hope is that I can merge these into some new thing…as we navigate—and celebrate—the mysterious beauty and terror of being alive in our universe.”

Profound, elegantly written ruminations on the exquisite splendors of life enjoyed through a secular lens.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-7352-1877-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2019