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Customer Review

230 of 243 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings, December 7, 2011
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This review is from: THE TOP FIVE REGRETS OF THE DYING: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing (Kindle Edition)
I had high hopes for this book. The concept really appealed to me. Unfortunately though, I just didn't feel like the concept was very well executed. Don't get me wrong, there's some really great parts in it but I just feel like it fell short of my expectations. I just felt like there was WAY too much storytelling about the authors own personal life and not enough tales from the lives of those who were spending their last days on this earth. I would say it's about 75% about the author's life and 25% about the people who were about to pass on. The author's personal stories are usually tied into the lessons she learned from the dying patients she cared for, but still I wanted to hear more about the lives of the patients themselves.

The author's stories about herself are interesting. She obviously has lead a very free and interesting life, but constantly hearing about it loses it's appeal after a while. I was hoping to gain insight and wisdom from the people who were seeing life from their last days. I did get a portion of that, but not nearly as much as I had hoped. Strangely, a lot of the words of wisdom came from the author, which is fine I suppose, but that's not quite what I bought the book for.

Also, the end of the book got really self indulgent in my opinion. I was really feeling like giving the book 4 stars until I neared the end. There's a small portion in those last chapters that summarize her days and lessons learned with her patients, but the last 20% or so of the book is very long winded story telling of her own trials and tribulations through depression and her days as a songwriting instructor at a women's prison. I just didn't get what the point of all that content was. It didn't seem to tie in with the theme of the book at all. I kind of got the impression that the end was simply a need to fill pages to meet a quota by the way it rambled on and on. It really soured my opinion of the book as a whole.

At any rate, the book has high points and low points. It has 5 star rating material and 1 star rating material. I decided to split the difference and rank it as 3 stars overall. It's worth reading but I wouldn't recommend spending a lot of money on it. I'm glad I bought the $10 kindle version and not the $30 paper copy!
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 7, 2011 5:30:44 PM PST
Belinda says:
I can't say I agree with you, though I understand where you are coming from. I think that it was clear from the subtitle of the book and from the back cover explanation that the book was about the author's own journey. I like that she told so many personal stories, because for me, it made the story more believable and flowing. Also, by sharing the success of what she achieved in the prison and then the hardships she went through after that, she gave real examples of how challenging it can be to try to live without regrets and to be who you want to be. I didn't feel that these chapters were superfluous at all, rather that they gave the story an unexpected twist for the better. I think if you go into the book with the awareness that it is a memoir of her own life and how it was transformed by those she cared for, then it is a beautiful book. In fact, it is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. I was given a paperback copy as a gift and have just bought an online copy as well. Like I say, I can see where you are coming from. But I cannot agree that the book lost strength as a result of the final chapters. I thought it was courageous and life-changing all of the way through, but even more so at the end.
THE TOP FIVE REGRETS OF THE DYING: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 9:29:48 PM PST
Yves says:
Great and informative review, thank you. :)

Posted on Feb 1, 2012 8:57:31 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 1, 2012 8:59:15 AM PST
I, too, understand where you're coming from. I think this review is fair, although I think it's more a reflection of the book you didn't read (the expectations you've acknowledged) than the one you did. I actually really liked the author's style of weaving her story into the story of the dying. I felt it was a great device for revealing autobiographical details without telling them in narrative form. I struggle with my own autobiography, since I feel bogged down by events and challenged to connect them to larger concepts about which I'd much rather being making a point or two, using my life experiences as a springboard. Otherwise, how do you avoid reporting so much debatable "he said, she said" that forms the basis of so much life experience? I found Bronnie's method innovative.

As for the ending, I can see where you would find it self indulgent, but I thought it provided realistic and appropriate balance to the apparent and relative ease with which the author handled all the previous adversity. Although she experiences many emotions in the course of the book, the narrative attitude is pretty consistently and remarkably positive/forgiving, which makes you wonder. Clearly, the book omits the majority of her earliest experiences and whatever personality-forming conflict(s) she had with one or more persons before she began traveling. This last section on her depression seems like a necessary coming to terms with her deepest feelings around those conflicts, and so I found it easy to accept.

Posted on Feb 16, 2012 4:50:12 PM PST
H. Park says:
Thanks for the review. It would bother me if I had to hear about her trials and tribulations when I clearly want to read about the regrets of the dying. I don't want to hear about her.

Posted on Feb 19, 2012 11:16:33 AM PST
" ....but the last 20% or so of the book is very long winded story telling of her own trials and tribulations through depression and her days as a songwriting instructor at a women's prison. I just didn't get what the point of all that content was."

The common theme is regrets. Seems relevant.

Posted on Feb 29, 2012 5:54:01 AM PST
R. Smith says:
You should really check out 5 Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die by John Izzo. Has what you are looking for as it studies 200 people who are between 60 - 100 years old and the principles of their stories to include segments of their actual stories. Thought it was one of the most impact full books I've read

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 29, 2012 8:03:59 AM PST
R.Smith, Thanks for the recommendation. I'm going to check it out.

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 1:12:49 PM PDT
C.L. says:
" Also, the end of the book got really self indulgent in my opinion... the last 20% or so of the book is very long winded story telling of her own trials and tribulations through depression and her days as a songwriting instructor at a women's prison."

The common theme has to do with the regrets of the dying. The way I see it is that Bronnie was very depressed, and in order to get through it, had to rid herself of other people's words and actions that she had taken on. In other words, she had to go through a death of sorts...but she was able to get through it, as painful as it was, and emerged from it with a great insight that radiated throughout her new being. I found this passage to be extremely powerful.

Posted on Oct 1, 2012 1:09:59 PM PDT
I agree completely with pbj-time - was going to write a very similar review but this one says it all and probably better than I could have - agree with the rating as well.

Having said that, I think Bronnie Ware is a very good writer, that the book is worth reading and she has certainly lived an interesting and courageous life. I, too, was going to give it much higher marks until the last part of the book that was a journey worth reporting as she did - humanized her in a good way - but would have been so much stronger with about 20% as many words as she used to do it.

Posted on Dec 27, 2013 2:10:24 AM PST
Serena says:
I absolutely agree with this review and am grateful to the author, I woldn't be able to write it very well in English. I would have given only two stars, anyway. The book is disappointing, it's really a pity as I was thirsty to learn from the Dying and found a lot of useless words instead.
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