Book Reccomendation - Death by Living by ND Wilson

N.D. Wilson is not as famous as he should be. As someone that reads a lot, he is one of those authors that sticks out. His writing style is unique. It is both fun and profound. Filled with symbolism and meaning but without that preachyness that ruins most who attempt to do what he does. I love his fiction. His 100 Cupboards series is darn near perfect Young Adult fiction (and well worth the read even for adults). But I want to highlight and heartily recommend one of his non-fiction books. Everything he writes is excellent but this one was particularly meaningful to me and changed the way I look at the world. It is a beautiful reflection on the meaning of life called, "Death by Living: Life is Meant to Be Spent." It is hard to review this book because it is not easily summarizable (no good book is) but perhaps the best way to recommend it is to provide a few quotes. In a book that reflects a lot on time and how we spend our life, consider this reflection:

Time is that harsh current that thrusts us down the rapids of narrative causation . Every moment leads to another moment and those moments pile together, boiling and rolling in falls, creasing skin and blinding eyes and breaking bones and wiping minds. Why are we old? Because we were young. Why do we die? Because we lived. Why am I here? Because I was there. You cannot stop yourself from aging, which is to say that you cannot sub out of this extremely rough, full-contact (no pads) game. You cannot throw a diva fit backstage in this production and force the understudy to take your place. You are in every scene. You are on the field for every play. And you go into the next one and the next one and the next one carrying the baggage and the wounds and the weariness of the last one and the last one and the last one. Time is rough on mortals. - Wilson, N. D. Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent (p. 106)
Here is another reflection on how time pounds away on us as we live:
The little finger on my left hand pops where I once snapped it sideways in high school. On my right hand, my ring finger is permanently twisted (courtesy of a soccer goalpost long ago). Half of my left knee has been numb since I was seventeen (courtesy of football). My nose angles to the right (courtesy of a friend’s gloved fist). I haven’t been able to open my jaw without cracking it since at least junior high. A scar stripes my forearm where a friend’s fingernail dug a long trough in eighth grade (football). Three years ago, surgeons drilled through my spine and scraped splattered cartilage off of nerve bundles that ran into my legs. Nerves still tingle in my right hand where I once took a knife blade. The war wounds of an average life.- Wilson, N. D. Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent (p. 183).
Or there is this reflection on the contrast between modern America's treatment of the dead and that of the ancient Jews who would return to the tomb when the body had decayed, clear the bones, and place a new body in that place:
There is a strange realness to mortality here, a realness hard for our modern ignore-mortality sensibilities to understand. I respect this way, but I prefer our own more permanent good-bye. Maybe because it is easier, because it enables us to scoot away from death quickly and focus on the photo albums. Revisiting the tomb to collect the bones and shelve them? Seeing the bones of those who have been shelved every time another member of the family dies? Knowing that you yourself would pass through decay on the same stone shelf where your ancestors rotted away, that your skull would eventually sit on a shelf beside theirs? - Wilson, N. D. Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent (p. 128).
These are just snippets of a work of art. Read it and enjoy. Then read everything else Wilson wrote. It is all beautiful and good. 


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