On Living by Kerry Egan
Best for: Someone who wants to provoke (a bit of) deeper thinking on the ways we live our lives.
In a nutshell: A hospice chaplain uses stories from families and individuals she has assisted to make sense of life.
Line that sticks with me: “The things you lose do shape who you become. But the losses don’t obliterate what came before.”
Why I Chose It: This was an impulse buy only in that it was on my list and I didn’t yet own it. I added this one when I saw it being mentioned in multiple different forums. But yesterday, as we were wandering a book store, I thought maybe it would be a somewhat profound choice to read as I celebrated my birthday.
Review: I enjoy reading books like this, which involve health or medical information intertwined with personal stories. Ms. Egan is a hospice chaplain who, years earlier, experienced months of postpartum psychosis after a very challenging childbirth. She weaves that story throughout the book, providing a lens through which the reader can connect the sometimes-philosophical items to the realities we live in.
The stories were all interesting but not overly sentimental or heart-wrenching. Everyone is dying, so that obviously sets a certain baseline, but I did not find myself tearing up at all, which I often find myself doing when reading books like this one. Some moments were funny, some were sweet, and some were sad.
The nuggets of wisdom that come from these stories and the ways Ms. Egan connect them to her own life experiences are relatable. Ideas about how to be kinder to yourself and others, the things we put off, the ways we live based on other people’s opinions, all were within the realm of my reality. I underlined quite a few passages that I know I’ll go back to.
As a final aside, I am not a religious person, so I appreciated that while there was definitely talk of religion, the stories rarely involved discussion of God or religion, but when they did, they certainly weren’t off-putting.