Posted in Book review, Books, Reading Challenge, Well-being

Book review: On Living by Kerry Egan

I read something very different this time: On Living is a book about people who are dying and their thoughts about living, dying and everything in between. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but overall it was a good experience to read and be reminded about the limited time we all have on this planet.

Become who you want to be while you can enjoy it. Don’t put off doing the work of becoming who you want to be. Waiting will not make it easier and time is short.

On Living gets 3 stars from me

I don’t know if reading On Living gives any huge, life changing advice but it does give a gentle reminder that life is meant for living until the very last breath.

I admit that I have been feeling melancholic and out of spirits lately. The daily dizziness I’ve been having for the last 6 months has taken it’s toll on my physical, and mental wellbeing and my doctor ordered me to stay home for a couple of weeks because the constant fatigue has turned into overstress on my mind and body. So I’ve had time to read and somehow my tired mind wanted to read a very gloomy sounding book: On Living which tells stories about people in hospice and their chaplain (author Kerry Egan).

It’s good to get perspective when you’re feeling so tired and done that you just want to give up trying. The perspective comes from those who are really running out of time and options.

While the book provides very touching and horrible details about life and work at a hospice center, it doesn’t focus on the suffering, but focuses instead on the stories of selected individuals. The themes revolve around the lived lives of the patients, more than death itself. The narrator is the author (Kerry Egan) who works as a chaplain in hospice and she tells the stories of her patients as well as of her own harsh moments in life. As one would expect the themes cover subjects like: regret, acceptance, family, love and religion. The religious parts felt foreign to me, because I’m not a religious person myself. I do of course understand why religion and spirituality are important themes for many others, especially when death is approaching. Still, I was wondering that if my edition of the book’s back cover had mentioned that this book is written by a chaplain, perhaps I wouldn’t have read it. I’m glad I did read it because even though the religious and spiritual details were difficult to relate to, the book didn’t put too much focus on those themes.

My favorite parts of the book were the ones where people spoke of things that they wished they had done more, had they known that their time was coming to an end. Apparently many mention that they would have danced more, while others regret not appreciating their physical bodies more before being forced to leave them. I agree, the human body is a pretty amazing thing and it’s sad if we cannot truly appreciate it until some part stops working the way we want. To me the most important message from On Living is that if there is something on your “bucket list”, don’t wait too long to finish it or it might be too late. The way of experiencing life changes along the years we live, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we couldn’t find joy or meaningfulness from different things than before.

As the book says: “We are becoming who we already are up until the moment we die.” So embrace that change is constant and make the best of it. I will keep this in mind whenever I struggle with whatever challenges life throws my way. ❤

On Living fills these prompts from the two Reading Challenges I’m doing this year:

There is a tree on the cover or in the description of the book (Helmet Reading Challenge)

Your favorite prompt from a past Popsugar Reading Challenge (Popsugar Reading Challenge)
I chose a very similar challenge from last year’s Popsugar Reading Challenge which was: A book with a plant in the title or on the cover


I love books, games and the coziness of our house (currently it's the kingdom of me and my husband). My work in a game studio as a Senior HR Specialist keeps me busy and social, but I am an introvert in my core. Navigating life between my very social work and my introvert, less social personality can be tricky and it goes hand in hand with my interest in overall personal well-being.

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