Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent

(5 reviews)

N.D. Wilson


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Book details

Nathan Wilson lives and writes in the top of a tall, skinny house only one block from where he was born. But his bestselling novels, including the highly acclaimed 100 Cupboards series, have traveled far and wide and have been translated into dozens of languages. He and his wife have five young storytellers of their own, along with an unreasonable number of pets. You can visit him online at

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AUTHOR: Nathan Wilson

PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson

PAGE COUNT: 208 pages


HARDBACK ISBN 10: 0849920094

HARDBACK ISBN-13: 9780849920097


PAPERBACK ISBN-10: 0785290079

PAPERBACK ISBN-13: 9780785290070

RELEASE DATE: August 6, 2013

Media: Paperback

A poetic portrait of faith, futility, and the joy of this mortal life.

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In this astoundingly unique book, bestselling author N.D. Wilson reminds each of us that to truly live we must recognize that we are dying. Every second we create more of our past—more decisions, more breathing, more love and more loathing, all of it slides by into the gone as we race to grab at more moments, at more memories made and already fading.

We are all authors, creators of our own pasts, of the books that will be our lives. We stare at the future or obsess about the present, but only the past has been set in stone, and we are the ones setting it. When we race across the wet concrete of time without purpose, without goals, without laughter and love and sacrifice, then we fail in our mortal moment. We race toward our inevitable ends without artistry and without beauty.

All of us must pause and breathe. See the past, see your life as the fruit of providence and thousands of personal narratives. What led to you? You did not choose where to set your feet in time. You choose where to set them next.

Then, we must see the future, not just to stare into the fog of distant years but to see the crystal choices as they race toward us in this sharp foreground we call the present. We stand in the now. God says create. Live. Choose. Shape the past. Etch your life in stone, and what you make will be forever. "

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What People Are Saying:

A Winner of the Christianity Today 2014 Book Awards!

"Death by Living is a reflective yet lively mishmash of theology, philosophy, and memoir. Wilson's mantra that 'life is meant to be spent' seeps from every pore of this book. Both playful and poetic, Wilson's carpe diem challenge is sweaty with urgency, his anecdotes buzzy with vibrancy." -Christianity Today Book Awards 

"Death by Living is a hybrid of memoir, apologetics, theology, philosophy, and lyrical prose, at once irreverent and worshipful, comical and elegiac. But where Tilt-A-Whirl focused on a way of seeing, Death by Living focuses on 'a way of living, a way of receiving life.'" ~Brett McCracken, Christianity Today

"Wilson issues a robust call to a deep, rich, risky, sacrificial, joyful, exhausting, and ecstatic life—one that takes us beyond our perpetually curved-in-on-self existence. To do that, he deploys a level of linguistic friskiness that disrupts, disarms, and rouses us to life.... We’re good at advancing arguments, parsing passages, making numbered observations on texts, and gospelizing literally everything (figuratively-speaking). Writing and preaching with dripping, juicy meat on the bones of our structural outlines isn’t too common, though. While the Spirit ultimately enlivens the Word in our hearts, he has decided to work through means. If we want people to embrace the doctrines of the faith with the kind of abandon Wilson (and the New Testamant) calls for, it’s better to give him something lively to work with. If you hadn’t picked up on it, Death by Living is a great book. Buy it. Read it. Give it away. Most importantly, though, try to live it." -Derek Rishmawy, The Gospel Coalition

"My go-to read when I need a reminder of how to make each day count. Wilson’s combination of sharp theology and off-kilter, non-sequitur anecdotes evolve the intellectual challenges of his 2009 book Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, to challenges of how we ought to live. In Death By Living, Wilson draws parallels and pathways from his grandparents’ stories to his story to his children’s stories. This can sound sure and simple, but Wilson’s writing takes us through all the raw twists and turns of life and death and beyond." -Sharon McKeeman, Relevant Magazine

Customer Reviews

Based on 5 reviews
Carson W.

At first slightly overwhelming, Nate Wilson's style of writing quickly sweeps you along into this beautiful meditation on faith, family, legacy, and living life fully. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Dan F.
Cause of death, Life.

This is one of the few books that I have enjoyed as much as reading CS Lewis. In a way it also strikes me as reading Donald Miller, but with a firm foundation. If you watch the book trailer on YouTube, you will know what you're getting.


Love the book. Giving it to grown up grandchildren

Marshall N.

Death by Living paired with Wilsons earlier work, Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, have drastically shaped my outlook on life and death. Highly recommend!

Kevin Z.
Death by Living

Good book. The writing style was different than I was used to, but once I fell into the rythum of it, I really enjoyed it. I started reading the book over again the minute I finished it. I have read a couple chapters 3-4 times. It’s poetic in it’s delivery and a beautiful tribute to those who helped make us who we are- and an encouragement to not squander the breath God gives us.

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