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Cover for The Art of Grace

The Art of Grace

On Moving Well Through Life

Sarah L. Kaufman


List Price: 24.95*
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Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (11/15/2015)
Paperback (10/25/2016)


A Pulitzer Prize–winning dance critic teaches us to appreciate—and enact—grace in every dimension, from the physical to the emotional.

Grace has long been taught as essential to civilized living. The Three Graces—goddesses of charm, beauty, and creativity—exemplify ease and harmony with one another and the world around them. But what has happened to this simple, marvelous concept of being at ease in the world?

With warmth, humor, and an ever-perceptive eye, Sarah L. Kaufman sifts the graceful from the graceless, celebrating heart-catching moments of physical elegance in sports, movies, dance, fashion, and music; rare sightings of celebrity grace; the secrets of gracious hosts; and grace found unexpectedly, in the kitchen of a high-end restaurant and among strippers in a basement bar. Kaufman’s thought-provoking reflections on these physical and social acts of grace offer hope for even the clumsiest, most awkward among us.

Guided by the muse of Cary Grant (with further inspiration from Smokey Robinson, Roger Federer, Nelson Mandela, Margot Fonteyn, Amy Purdy, Beyoncé, and others), Kaufman illuminates the importance of grace in the small moments of everyday life. In The Art of Grace, she inspires us to walk taller, spend time on unnecessary kindnesses, and celebrate the grace notes in our lives and those of others.

Praise For The Art of Grace: On Moving Well Through Life

Kaufman mines history, pop culture, sports, and her own neighborhood to share moving moments of grade in beautifully sculpted prose…. [She] reminds us that even in a world where most eyes are locked on smart phones, there are still people who really listen, think before they speak, and move gracefully.
— Candace Smith - Booklist, Starred review

As an antidote to the ill manners so prevalent in today’s society, Pulitzer Prize-winning dance critic Kaufman recalls the reader to grace…. Kaufman’s narrative is timely and sheds light on a long-lost art.
— Library Journal, Starred review

Kaufman’s deft way with words aligns perfectly with her subject: Smooth and controlled, she writes with authority about an impressive array of subjects…. Thoughtful and inspiring.
— Sarah Archer - Washington Post

Part love letter, part cultural commentary, and wholly a joyous exploration of the essential trait of grace, from ancient Greece to the golden age of Hollywood.
— Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post and author of Thrive

Both joyful and directive, a celebrity-packed collection of observations and a manual for easing anyone’s way through the world. It’s a book with a message, delivered with calm command.
— Cathy Lynn Grossman - Huffington Post

Sarah Kaufman offers an old-fashioned cure for a modern-day ailment. The remedy for our culture of coarseness is grace—forgetting ourselves, being attentive to others, and approaching our encounters with the effortlessness that comes from being at ease in the world. This is an elegant, compelling, and, yes, graceful book.
— Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

This is a truly eloquent book… Sarah Kaufman paints a charming, dignified portrait of a lost art.
— Adam Grant, professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and author of Give and Take

As a dance photographer, I have considered myself an expert on the art of grace. Not anymore. Sarah Kaufman has set the gold standard by which I will judge all future subjects.
— Jordan Matter, photographer and author of Dancers Among Us

Sarah Kaufman has nailed it: she has detected precisely what it is that has changed us so for the worse… Her book is itself most graceful, and ever knowing.
— Frank Deford, NPR sports commentator, and author of Alex: A Child

This thoughtful meditation will stay with me for a long while. Sarah Kaufman’s thoughts on the rare virtue of grace are both inspiring and uplifting. Humanity at its finest is merely what she is offering here, and we could all use a bit more of that in our lives.
— Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic

Fascinating throughout, this book not only serves as a reminder of the crude gracelessness into which modern society has descended. It also offers hope that we can reform our current personal and social habits with an eye toward more civilized, harmonious living. An insightful, intelligent examination of grace, which often 'seems to elude fixed meaning.'
— Booklist

W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393243956, 336pp.

Publication Date: November 2, 2015

About the Author

Sarah L. Kaufman is a Pulitzer Prize–winning critic, author, and educator. She is the dance critic and senior arts writer of the Washington Post. A former French-American Foundation journalism fellow, she has taught and lectured around the country. She and her husband have three children and live in Takoma Park, Maryland.