This is a book about beauty. It features sixteen people from different walks of life who talk about the impact of their encounters with beauty. Though we talk about beauty all the time, we don’t discuss its effects on our private lives. The media and our consumer culture is fixated on outward beauty, and in response our schools fear that beauty and aesthetic judgment reinforces hierarchies and lead to exclusion. The conversations in this book offer a different perspective, as a waitress, an auto restorer, a ballet teacher an exotic dancer, a labor 

"Beauty has become unfashionable in English departments.  Beauty, it is said, is relative; race, class and gender are empirical.  Conversations About Beauty with Ordinary Americans makes the case, in a unique way, that beauty still prevails outside the ivory tower.  Ordinary Americans—diverse in ethnicity and class background—still find meaning in the sublime..."

-David Yaffe, author of the recent Restless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown.

organizer, a choir director, and others discuss how it feels to be in the presence of something beautiful: what in life prepared them for these encounters; whether beauty makes them feel part of a community, affects their morality, and can be described as religious or spiritual. These conversations describe a vital part of contemporary life that remains  unexplored, until now. The people in this book speak about beauty as an indispensable blessing that provides re-creation, restoration, affirmation, and in many cases community and social engagement that a meaningful life requires. They confirm what Simone Weil once observed: “beautiful things are like tears in the surface of the world that pull us through to some vaster space.”