A Progress of Work and Leisure
by Nancy J. Nordenson
Named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Booknotes/Hearts & Minds Books
Essays from Finding Livelihood have been recognized as notable:
“Spinning and Being Spun”—Best Spiritual Writing, 2012
“Metrics”—Best American Essays, 2012
“Two-Part Invention”—Best American Essays, 2015
Finding Livelihood is a book about work for grown-ups. It’s about not just the work we thought we wanted but about the work we found and the work that found us. It’s also about the work we have lost.
At once a shrewd challenge of Buechner’s assertion that “the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet” and also a lyrical journey to the place where labor and love meet, Finding Livelihood explores the tensions between the planned life and the given, between desire and need, between aspirations and limits.
Through story, collage, and juxtaposition, Finding Livelihood invites you to consider work in its many facets. Who gets to decide if our work is “good”? How do we deal with forces and routines that leave us longing for escape? How do questions about money and meaning change when you are holding a pink slip in your hand? How are we transformed when our current work becomes part of a spiritual journey that encompasses all of life?
Drawing from thinkers as diverse as St. Aquinas, Josef Pieper, and Simone Weil, Nordenson affirms the doctrine of imago Dei and brings it into the real world of work: a world full of brokenness and hope, of dead-end jobs and live-saving interventions, of daily bread and transcendent meaning. In the midst of it all, we find our livelihood.
In the Press
"Best Books for Business: The Business of Work" | The High Calling, September 22, 2014
#12 in “Top 50 Books For Christian Readers to Watch for in 2015” | Englewood Review of Books, January 5, 2015
Review: Finding Livelihood—A Progress of Work and Leisure | Carrie Ann Lahain
Review: Finding Livelihood: A Progress of Work and Leisure by Nancy J. Nordenson | Image Journal
Allison Backous Troy: Livelihood and the path between vocation and work | Faith & Leadership
Betsy Clover: Finding Livelihood: A Progress of Work and Leisure | Reconsiderations
David Clark: Nancy Nordenson—Finding Liveiihood | Englewood Review of Books
Byron Borger: Finding Livelihood: A Progress of Work and Leisure | BookNotes
Greg Richardson: Finding Livelihood | Presence Journal
Kenneth Garcia: What I’m Reading: Finding Livelihood, Nancy J. Nordenson | Notre Dame Magazine
Mere Fidelity: The Spirituality of Work (audio)
Anglican Review with Michael Porter (audio)
Finding Livelihood—Where Labor and Love Meet: An Interview with Nancy Nordenson | Collegeville Institute
Finding Livelihood Beyond a ‘Deep Gladness’: An Interview with Nancy Nordenson | Covenant Companion
Finding Livelihood: An Interview with Nancy J. Nordenson | Relief Journal
“Nordenson describes wrestling with work as with a large force that wants to have its way with you, even as you want to have your way with it. This wrestling, sinewy and particular as its wrestler, enlarges us as we read our way into her life with its incisive insights and explorations. Can one wrestle meditatively? This author has learned the art and we are the benefactors.”
Writer in residence, Regent College
Author, Adventure of Ascent: Field Notes from a Lifelong Journey and Scape: Poems
"Written with a rare wit and elegance, Finding Livelihood offers a profound, often surprising reflection on the necessity of earning our daily bread.This fine new collection by Nancy Nordenson, which gathers under one cover such unlikely bedfellows as venipuncture, a flute-playing cabbie, and the prudent way to unpack Russian icons, includes some of the best essays I’ve read in years."
Author, A Land Without Sin and The Holy Way
"This is an absolutely timely book, and an absolutely beautiful one too. Ms. Nordenson examines what it means to work, and does so in a lyrical, practical, moving, and spirit-filled way. In giving us her personal stories and universal observations, we are given as well the means by which, in these difficult days, to make sense of what it means to work. I like this book a lot for its voice and vision, and especially for its hope."
Author, Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian and Jewel
"In this extraordinary new book, Nordenson asks what we all want to know: Can our daily workplace grind really become our daily God-blessed bread? (My personal question: Can cleaning fishing nets of rotting jellyfish really be redeeming work?) Nancy answers an unequivocal ‘yes’! Through layered eloquent prose and her own vast experience, she offers us real ways of finding astonishment and transcendence even in the most stultifying jobs. This book is a revelation. It goes with me to my fishing camp."
Leslie Leyland Fields
Author, Surviving the Island of Grace and Mothers
Contributing Editor, Christianity Today
“Finding Livelihood is a breath of radical honesty for the workaday Christian. Nancy Nordenson does not fear the long dark night shift of the soul, but neither does she accept it. Her real world stories of people at work inspire and challenge at every turn."
Editor, The High Calling
“Nordenson's prose is beautifully polished, lucid, and imaginative."
Editor, Image Journal
Author, Beauty Will Save The World
“Finding Livelihood is deeply felt and deeply satisfying to the reader. Nordenson grapples with hard questions and avoids easy answers. Of work itself she writes: ‘You take the first steps in a state of delight, equipped with skill or talent, ready to make a difference. But the path is never straight, and it takes you through places you never envisioned.’ Nordenson's book is practical, powerful, and rooted in biblical wisdom and the wisest thought of the Western tradition. With a light step, and gratitude, Nordenson teaches us to deal with jagged changes and ugly surprises, ‘to live and work in the flow of God's love.’”
Author, The Reflective Executive and Souls in Full Sail
Join in the Conversation!
Visit Nancy’s page for this book at findinglivelihood.com to participate in discussions and submit your own stories of work.