• Acedia & Me

  • A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life
  • By: Kathleen Norris
  • Narrated by: Kathleen Norris
  • Length: 9 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (79 ratings)

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Acedia & Me

By: Kathleen Norris
Narrated by: Kathleen Norris
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Publisher's Summary

In Acedia & Me, the acclaimed author Kathleen Norris explicates and demystifies the forgotten but utterly relevant concept of acedia, a term that has often been understood as spiritual sloth, but really signifies the serious malady of being unable to care. With great insight and candor, Norris explores acedia through the geography of her life as a writer, her marriage and the challenges of commitment in the midst of grave illness, and her keen interest in the monastic tradition.

She writes of her and her husband David's battles with acedia and its clinical cousin, depression, and traces acedia's path through literary and religious history, exposing the damage it does not only to individual lives but also to our culture as a whole, as we are desensitized by ever more intrusive distractions and lose the ability to care about what is truly important. Thus, she finds that the "restless boredom, frantic escapism, commitment phobia, and enervating despair" that we struggle with today are "the ancient demon of acedia in modern dress."

An examination of acedia in the light of theo logy, psychology, monastic spirituality, the healing powers of religious practice, and Norris's own experience, Acedia & Me is both intimate and historically sweeping, brimming with exasperation as well as reverence, sometimes funny, often provocative, and always important.

©2008 Kathleen Norris (P)2008 Penguin Audiobooks

What listeners say about Acedia & Me

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

excellent but not for the faint of heart

i can see how this book is NOT for everyone. dilettantes (those looking for a quick and fashionable fix) need not apply. but for the serious minded who seek legitimate context, this book is a jewel. Norris' narration brings alive her words and her experiences. the only caveat i offer is that some of the book is eccentric ... in a positive sense of that word: it is about her (acedia and ME) but as a cautionary tale, she's good and offers an informed perspective.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Acedia and All the Rest of Us

Would you consider the audio edition of Acedia & Me to be better than the print version?

I have both. I don't think one can compare audio to print. They serve different purposes. Both are great in this case.

What did you like best about this story?

Norris' assessment and application of acedia's influence within our affluent American culture is spot on.

What about Kathleen Norris’s performance did you like?

She is bit academic. But it is honest and I always like the author to read. The story is personal enough that is right to have her read it.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The chapter "Acedia's Progress" is so sharp. Norris' application of acedia as the malady of our milieu is not shallow but solid and convincing. I was so impressed. I put it to journal attempting to make it as close as possible.

Any additional comments?

I believe this work is far more than a personal story. It is so throughly researched and cohesive that it more like a doctoral class at a seminary, taught by both the expert and the practitioner. I am have only briefly ran across the term "acedia" in my readings of early desert hermits, so I am no expert on the subject. But after hearing Norris I feel I understand the concept very well.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Appalling

I sought this book after hearing a radio interview with its author and was very dismayed to see that she narrated it herself. A computer-generated voice would be less mechanical and grating. Still, I wanted to read the book, which I cannot obtain in print locally, so I gritted my teeth and bought the audio. A regrettable decision: Norris rambles through centuries and over continents, attributing to acedia the rise of Nazism, American consumerism, homelessness, monastic fitfulness, the Columbine killings, general inability to concentrate, and the existence of overseas sweat-shops. She takes some pains to distinguish acedia from depression but fails abysmally to distinguish it from boredom, indifference, sloth, cynicism, and despair. I regret that acedia did not prevent Ms. Norris from completing this book and still more that it did not keep her away from the recording booth.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

New eyes to see distinctions I've missed

Any one of 100's of new ways to see how I have seen without seeing. Only one: depression can't see any possibilities; acedia sees and doesn't care that they exist.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A gift of hope

Kathleen Norris explains acedia in a thoughtful and down to earth way. No overuse of academic jargon like many other books on this topic. There is just enough to give detailed examples, (from the fourth century up to modern times) from writers, poets and mystics sprinkled in with her very personal journey with acedia. This presentation is educational as well as hopeful for anyone experiencing depression, “the blues” or just feels stuck.

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May be the one thing you needed to hear...

I can't say that I would recommend this book to everyone, but if you struggle with anything resembling anxiety, depression, despair, or procrastination (both spiritual &/or manual), the author may just say something about her battles with acedia that will help you embrace your vocation of living the quotidian (daily, day-to-day).

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not What I Expected, But What I Needed

A friend recommended Acedia & Me to me after we talked about the artistic dry spell I’ve found myself in as of late. As such, I went into this thinking it would focus much more on the writing process and applying “acedia” to writing—the book focuses much more on Norris’ faith journey. This was a surprise to me—not a bad thing, just a surprise—based on the way this book was marketed. I would recommend this book to people feeling stalemated in their faith and art. There are many great lines on poetry and it’s importance here, but this is not quite an “Art of Writing” narrative.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Boring

While the topic piqued my interest, the narrator's voice was unappealing, drab, and monotone. I was able to listen to one hour of the audio book, but chose not to listen to 7 more hours of it. Plus, while the content seemed thoroughly researched, it's presentation was unengaging and ironically boring. This is just my opinion, though. I wish the author the best.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

wholistically enriching

this is exactly what I needed to listen to at this juncture of life. norris's voice as a poet is gentle and powerful.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interresting

Any additional comments?

I love Kathleen Norris' books. She has a great writing style. The reading was absolutely UNBEARABLE!! I had to stop. I will get the book on Kindle and read it myself. Wow, her reading style is awful!! I enjoyed the subject of the book and found it very interesting.