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Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent Hardcover – August 6, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 157 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

N. D. Wilson is a Fellow of Literature at New Saint Andrews College, where he teaches classical rhetoric to freshmen. He is also the managing editor for Credenda/Agenda magazine, a small Trinitarian cultural journal. He lives in Moscow, Idaho with his wife and four children.

"From the Hardcover edition."

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0849920094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0849920097
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book.
THIS. BOOK.

I don't really even know what to say.
I don't know where to begin, or how to begin.
Or anything really. Not anymore.

This book challenges. It changes. It makes you look.
No, more than look. It makes you hear, think, learn.

So I'm a fan. Officially.

Wilson has a way with words. He's a poet, a storyteller, a spinner of wild tales and far-flung dreams.
He's got a fresh voice. I haven't enjoyed a Christian book so much since I last read C.S. Lewis.

This book took me a long time to read.
Not because I didn't like it, but because every other paragraph I was putting the book down and thinking through what I had just read. Then I was re-reading it and thinking some more. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't just READ. I was forced to think and learn and question and change and grow. Most importantly grow.

Things you will learn:

1. We are all stories.
2. We are not the Author.
3. We are just characters.
4. Not even the main character, just supporting roles.
5. We were chosen, shaped, crafted into exactly who we are supposed to be and who we are supposed to become.
6. We are breathed.
7. We are created.
8. Life is a story.
9. Listen to the stories.
10. We are welcome and wanted in this story.

The story of life.You can almost feel the strain in his fingers as he tries hard to impress upon you how fully your life was meant to be lived.

This book covers so many things. But mostly it's about us not being about us.
We are meant to live our lives for others.
This book is an incredible glimpse into what life is and what it's meant to be.
As Wilson says, "Life isn't complicated, (just hard).
Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition
N. D. Wilson wrote Death by Living to remind each of us that to truly live we must recognize that we are dying. The subtitle is “Life is meant to be spent,” and the tagline describes this as a “poetic portrait of faith, futility, and the joy of this mortal life.” (Poetic indeed.)

The crux of his message comes buried in Chapter 2: “If you think it, live it. If you don’t live it, you don’t really think it. You are not what you think (or what you think you think). You are not what you say you are. You are what you do.” Talk is cheap, and actions speak louder than words.

I struggled to get through this book: I prefer books to be linear and organized, and Mr. Wilson seems to prefer the exact opposite. I enjoyed some of his phrasing as he recalled the tales of his grandparents, and for me his choice of stories seemed to match his intended goal. (He wrote in Chapter 2 that “stories are soul food” and nourish us as much as the physical food we eat.) But in the end I was left confused and had to struggle to make sense of the work as a whole. Were I to edit a digest of this I could easily reduce the book to a fraction of its size and still communicate his message.

If you’re interested in spending time indulging in a poetic, very non-linear book encouraging you to make the most of your life, this is the book for you. Otherwise, skip this book for something better. After all life is too short to waste on rambling, incoherent treatises.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <[...]> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <[...]> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Format: Hardcover
Only "The Lord of the Rings" has made me laugh and cry at the same time, but "Death by Living" came close. It certainly made me do both, even if at separate moments. By the time I finished, I was so full of sehnsucht (that "overwhelming bittersweet yearning that bleeds into joy"), I felt ready to detonate--like Agent Smith in "The Matrix," split by the light-spear, but in a good way. I wanted to live. I wanted to die.

I was glad that I could do both, right now.

You've heard it said that from the minute you're born, you're dying--as if that's a bad thing. N. D. Wilson shows that death is not just the last enemy, it is the calling to which we are called, a calling which we can fear and lament and ignore and refuse (for a while), but only to our harm. You are a pitcher, and you will be poured out. You can be vinegar or you can be wine, but you will poured regardless. You can be dumped out and wasted in the cracks on the sidewalk, or you can be poured into goblets and drunk by others, for others. The choice is yours. Age well. Mellow. Do not despise the Hand that tips you. Do not begrudge the mouths that drink you dry. You follow the Man who shed His blood like wine for you.

"A grim morn, and a glad day, and a golden sunset," wrote Tolkien as Theoden lay dying. "Death by Living" is Wilson's sketch of man's golden sunset as intended by God, captured by words to make your blood pound, ready to be shed. It made me want to grab life around the middle and squeeze, but not forever. I will let go. My life for yours, every day, until I have nothing left, and then I will let go one last time.

"This is my body," Nate says to his children. "May it be broken for you."

The morning is only grim for those who do not know the story.
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