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On Living Audiobook

On Living

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Publisher's Summary

A hospice chaplain passes on wisdom on giving meaning to life, from those taking leave of it.

As a hospice chaplain, Kerry Egan didn't offer sermons or prayers unless they were requested; in fact, she found, the dying rarely want to talk about God, at least not overtly. Instead she discovered she'd been granted an invaluable chance to witness firsthand what she calls the "spiritual work of dying" - the work of finding or making meaning of one's life, the experiences it's contained, and the people who have touched it, the betrayals, wounds, unfinished business, and unrealized dreams. Instead of talking she mainly listened: to stories of hope and regret, shame and pride, mystery and revelation and secrets held too long. Most of all, though, she listened as her patients talked about love - love for their children and partners and friends; love they didn't know how to offer; love they gave unconditionally; love they learned, sometimes belatedly, to grant themselves.

This isn't a book about dying - it's a book about living. And Egan isn't just passively bearing witness to these stories. An emergency procedure during the birth of her first child left her physically whole but emotionally and spiritually adrift. Her work as a hospice chaplain healed her from a brokenness she came to see we all share. Each of her patients taught her something - how to find courage in the face of fear or the strength to make amends; how to be profoundly compassionate and fiercely empathetic; how to see the world in grays instead of black and white. In this poignant, moving, and beautiful book, she passes along all their precious and necessary gifts.

©2016 Kerry Egan (P)2016 Penguin Audio

What the Critics Say

"In her sophomore outing, Egan masters the art of imparting critical life advice without coming off as preachy - a difficult feat...Egan's empathetic tone is a comfort for both the healthy and the dying - whom, she opines, are not polar opposites.... As the title suggests, this is not just a book about dying. It's one that will inspire readers to make the most of every day." (Publishers Weekly)

"Powerful...in this quick read, Egan takes readers on an emotional journey through many unforgettable lives." (Booklist)

"[Egan's] anecdotes are often thought-provoking combinations of sublime humor and tragic pathos.... A moving, heartfelt account of a hospice veteran." (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.7 (165 )
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4.7 (140 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Daniel Humphreys Cincinnati, Ohio 11-02-16
    Daniel Humphreys Cincinnati, Ohio 11-02-16 Member Since 2016
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    "This is the best book I have read this year."
    What made the experience of listening to On Living the most enjoyable?

    Does it make sense to you that crying, again and again, while you hear someone's story is a good thing? Have you ever read a book that makes you hope that somehow in your next incarnation you could continue the author's work? Help me, please. Was it Holden Caulfield who said something about wanting to pick up a phone and have a conversation with a favorite author? I can't speak for you, but I wanted to hug her, so many times.

    I would recommend this to anyone, but if I needed to say which author and book I would put on the shelf beside it, it would be BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott.

    I'm gushing here. [The defense rests, your honor.] I would ask for a sequel, but I can tell how difficult it would be for the author to be there to hear her patients tell there stories, and then write those stories in a journal, and rewrite and revise and go through the muddy obstacle course of getting it published and promoted. I have no doubt that I will read this one again and again.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of On Living?

    Kerry Egan has consistently and dramatically shared the intimacy of her own life and the stories of her hospice clients with such a profound frankness and clarity that as a cab driver who has listened to similar stories for more than forty years, I can only regret that I had not read this years ago. I wish that I could have asked better questions of my people, and been more attentive when they spoke.


    Have you listened to any of Kerry Egan’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This is the author narrating her own work. I am, once again, indebted to FRESH AIR with Terry Gross for bringing her to my attention.


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

    I am slightly more than halfway through. The most recent moment was when she told how she learned to ask her evangelical clients to describe the day that they were saved. Even for someone who is skeptical of that entire theology, her story was illuminating.


    Any additional comments?

    I am sure that in time, I could find some additional reasons to recommend this splendid book, but I am going to be selfish and go back to reading it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sage Dunham 10-06-17
    Sage Dunham 10-06-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Absolutely wonderful!"

    Kerry’s reading of her own work is magnificent, a must listen, amidst all of the changes at end of life, and the tough times, there is beauty. Very insightful, thought provoking, and memorable. Live the best life you can, remember life is fragile and short, always convey your feelings to the ones you love.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maritza Sanders 07-08-17
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    "Beautiful beyond belief!"

    So utterly, breathtakingly stunning!!! I will revisit this book for years to come...Thank you for this gift of a book, Kerry!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sheila 06-10-17
    Sheila 06-10-17 Member Since 2012
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    "I loved this!"

    I am inspired to draw cards every time I listen. Great stories which are true. Thank you for sharing!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 03-04-17
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    "Moving. The sorrow and joy of loss."

    Very moving and gentle, thoughtful insight into loss. My mother was a hospice nurse and I remember her stories of patients and their families. I spent many hours at a hospice center with my dying mother-in-law and was a care giver during my dad's last months. Kerry story and her stories of her patients really spoke to me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 02-11-17
    David 02-11-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Dance like nobody's looking!"

    A wonderful, broad view of end of life experiences. Enforces my personal thoughts to go out with the tank on empty...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meerke from SA 02-06-17 Member Since 2014
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    "There's not enough stars to give this book"

    If you don't listen to this book, you're missing a lot of endearment and wisdom.
    Now I will be forever a gray person, my mission is never to judge again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon shopper 01-27-17 Member Since 2017
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    "So beautiful and real"

    I absolutely love this book. It's such a profoundly deep and tough topic, but the subject is balanced out by Kerry's honest, raw, sweet, and beautiful storytelling. I heard about the book on Fresh Air, and I'm so glad I listened to it. The audible version read by Kerry is perfect, and I think I enjoyed it even more by listening than I would have by reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    paregoric usa 12-27-16
    paregoric usa 12-27-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Amazing audiobook!!!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely amazing book. Its the best audiobook because the author narrates her beautiful story, and you can hear the joy and pain in her voice as she tells her story. Generally books narrated by the authors dont go well, but with this book it completely enhances the experiance. I loved hearing the laughter in her voice when she read funny parts of the book, and you can also hear the pain in her voice as she recounts tough memories. I absolutely couldn't stop listening. I've listened to the book almoat 10 times already.This book really is a book about love and families. It is an interesting perspective on love and family, but there was so many times in the book that the words touched me. Great insight into living life to the fullest!


    What does Kerry Egan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Absolutely best narration, which makes a great book even better. Kerry is a great narrator and i would buy another book she narrates!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 12-15-16
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    "Bravely authentic"

    Kerry's beautiful writing and authenticity makes this an engrossing read. Her willingness to share openly about her own struggles and failures makes the wisdom she communicates even more prescient.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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