Why would anyone spend free hours and weekends on a demanding practice that promises no payoff in money, fame, or power? Is it true that anything worth doing is worth doing only if you can get credit for doing it really well? Why do amateurs do what they do? Wayne Booth found himself enticed by these questions after taking up the cello at age 31 and then experiencing decades not just of unforeseen struggle but of comic and humiliating disasters - followed by hours of astonishing bliss playing chamber music. This book tells the story not only of this intimate struggle between man and cello but also of the larger struggle between a society obsessed with success and payoff and individuals who choose challenging hobbies that yield no payoff except the love of it. This fundamental opposition leads Booth into diverse meditations on how amateuring relates to all other loves and pleasures. In his celebration of how the amateur's labouring can blossom, he thus joins a long line of thinkers who have puzzled over the meanings of "fun", "work" and "love."