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Death by Living arrived by mail from Thomas Nelson publishers and was instantly confiscated by one of my teen sons. I hunted it down and began to read it. The next day…gone. This time another son (the not-so-enthusiastic-reader) had squirreled it away and begun devouring it. I was (finally) making headway into the book when my adult daughter visited from out-of-town and took it home (without asking). Seriously people?

In our house of (mostly) enthusiastic readers, Death by Living; Life is Meant to be Spent by N.D. Wilson was given a thumbs-up before I could even get past the first chapter. The book is good.

It’s a book about remembering. It’s about contemplating the death of grandparents. It’s about a father of a young family figuring out how he got to where he is in this great universe of ours. And, it’s way more.

N.D. Wilson sometimes writes like he just got an “A” in Metaphors 101. His descriptions are creatively wild; poignantly beautiful and blunt. Just when the reader feels slightly drunk on words and remembrance, Wilson lightens the load with an earthy and descriptive story of his own young family.

As a “younger” man contemplating the flow of his own history, the sovereignty of God through his lineage and the many lives who’ve have impacted his own, Wilson also weaves a really enjoyable story.

“We are nothing more than molded clay given breath, but we are nothing less than divine self-portraits, huffing and puffing along mountain ranges of epic narrative arcs prepared for us by the Infinite Word Himself. Swell with pride and gratitude, for you are tiny and given much. You are as spoken by God as the stars. You stand in history with stories stretched in out both behind and before. We should want to live our chapters well, but doing so requires that we know the chapters that led up to us in our time and our moment; it requires that we open our eyes and consciously begin to shape those chapters that are coming after.”

There are belly-laugh moments that save this book from morose contemplation. Unfortunately, Wilson veers into pages of slightly sloppy description which remind me of a combination of Jack Kerouac (the beatnik) and Edith Schaeffer (the rambling wife of the theologian Francis). Those rabbit trails made me wonder if he was simply trying to fill space.
Wilson also uses the word “narrative” a few too many times but that’s just a personal pet peeve of mine. By and large, Wilson uses language like rich watercolors on the page and that’s why you don’t want to miss this book.

It is good to remember those who have gone before us, to look back with gratefulness and to look forward with vision. It is, especially, good to read a book written beautifully from a man who is deeply thankful for the life he has been given.
I recommend Death by Living.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson publishers who got tired of waiting for this review and shut my account down. I blame my kids :-).