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Living with a Wild God: A Non-believer's Search for the Truth About Everything Paperback – 1 May 2014


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Living with a Wild God: A Non-believer's Search for the Truth About Everything + Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (1 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1783780134
  • ISBN-13: 978-1783780136
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 396,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'The poet Robert Browning warned us that just when we are safest a friend's death or a sudden line of verse can start old questions reeling in our minds again. Be warned: this book will have the same effect, so don't read it if you don't want all your safe conclusions about the meaning of life shaken and stirred' --Richard Holloway

'Ehrenreich writes like a dream - elegantly carrying the reader with her on her latest and oddest of first-person journeys. Ehrenreich has produced a minor miracle: a book about these moments of transcendence that many have experienced but most have privately filed away' --Daily Telegraph

'Living With a Wild God makes for pleasantly prickly reading' --New York Times

'Compelling' --'Book of the Week', Independent

'Audacious… a winning approach to autobiography' --Financial Times

'The award-winning American essayist Barbara Ehrenreich is incapable of penning a dull sentence. Her latest book, Living With a Wild God, is a fascinating memoir about rationality and mysticism' --'Stella Loves', Sunday Telegraph's Stella Magazine

'Audacious… a winning approach to autobiography' --Financial Times

'Exhilarating, intelligent and thoughtful, Living With a Wild God is is a fascinating spiritual odyssey, rigorously honest and deeply moving' --Sunday Times

'A stimulating read… Living With A Wild God is a heartfelt and provocative book' --Sunday Business Post

'Ehrenreich writes like a dream, elegantly carrying her reader with her' --'Summer Reads', Daily Telegraph

'A stimulating read… Living With A Wild God is a heartfelt and provocative book' --Sunday Business Post

'Living With a Wild God provides not just a vivid subjective account of an intense spiritual experience but an insight into this complex and intriguing woman and writer. An arresting account of adolescence illuminated by her intelligence and fluency. The final chapter is an interesting review of the historical, scientific and religious explanations of mystical experiences, along with her usual intelligent and acerbic commentary' --Irish Times

'A stimulating read… Living With A Wild God is a heartfelt and provocative book' --Sunday Business Post

'Fascinating' --Book of the year chosen by Marcus Tanner, Independent

'A stimulating read… Living With A Wild God is a heartfelt and provocative book' --Sunday Business Post --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

BARBARA EHRENREICH is the author of fourteen books, including the bestselling Smile or Die and Nickel and Dimed. She writes regularly for Time, Harper's, the New York Times Magazine and various British newspapers including The Times and the Guardian. She lives in Virginia, USA.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Crowe on 6 May 2014
Format: Hardcover
Barbara Ehrenreich, whose "Nickel and Dimed" is one of the best books I've read in the last fifteen years or so, is in her early seventies now (as I almost am myself), and it's quite wonderful to see her turn her unsentimental, humane eye on her own earlier life, and in particular, on some strange and intense "dissociative" experiences that she had as a teenager and, to some extent, still has today. These experiences she has come to present as encounters with something "other," and like the empirical scientist she used to try to be, her book is really an appeal to keep open the possibility that that "other" is something that we shouldn't rush to categorize in the language of religion, or psychiatry, or neuroscience. I have to say that nothing in "Nickel and Dimed" prepared me for this, but readers who are familiar with writers like Barry Lopez or Peter Matthiessen might think that Ehrenreich is exploring some territory that they too are interested in.

The book has two focuses of interest: first, her experience itself, which includes vivid accounts not only of what we might call uncanny moments but also of a very difficult childhood with two unhappy and finally alcoholic and suicidal parents. Ehrenreich writes about her parents with a detachment that is well short of clinical, but it's a detachment we can well understand as being the product of strategies that she, an unusually self-conscious, articulate child, devised to survive her relationship with these parents. She doesn't over-analyze, however: she contextualizes, and her adolescent encounters with uncanniness, along with her solipsism and precocious reading are set forth without any tightly connecting web of causes and effects being drawn between them.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Jun. 2014
Format: Hardcover
In "Living With a Wild God" (256 pages), author Barbara Ehrenreich (best known for her book "Nickel and Dimed") revisits her past to try and make sense of things. In the Foreword, Ehrenreich describes how, a good 10 years ago as a 59 year old woman, she rediscovers the journal entries she wrote starting at age 14, and "if you're not prepared to die when you're almost sixty, then I would say you've been falling down on your philosophical responsibilities as a grown-up human being", ha! And so the author, a self-proclaimed atheist, sets off on a journey to answer the Big Question: "What is the point of our brief existence? What are we doing here and to what end?", as the author frames it. Along the way, she brings us recollections from her youth, growing up in a household with a self-made (but alcoholic) mining expert and executive father, a frustrated, alcoholic and at times abusive mother, and 2 siblings. It is pretty amazing how the author covers much of the abuse with the mantle of love. "They were rebels too, and I respected that, even as I rebelled against them".

Couple of comments: the primary reason I picked up this book (other than the excellent reviews it has garnered) is that I am always fascinated how obviously intelligent people who are atheists view the world, and their existence. The author starts from the very beginning with her assessment (and philosophy) of life: "I exist. And I know nothing", and from there goes on an intellectual journey that at times will surprise you, at times it left me scratching my head in bewilderment, but it always left me curious for wanting to read further on into the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rookfarn on 26 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
To be honest I only bought this because it was on offer at 99p. I was expecting roughly 99p's worth of book but I was wrong. Although entirely about Ehrenreich's own life, her search for meaning and struggle with her inner demons it didn't come across to me as self-indulgent or self-obsessed. Rather, it is a brutally honest account of her life, at times shocking and at times inspiring, which I am happy to recommend others to read. At the end of the book it's a relief to find that the author does, in her old age, find some kind of peace and meaning to it all. Her conclusion is an intriguing one and I only wish she had taken the time to explore it a bit further.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Deep Reader VINE VOICE on 10 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story of a precocious mind in search of a greater truth than her upbringing and education allowed for. Living with a Wild God read like self portrait more than a quest. fits our times though.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Sept. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The idea of an autobiography of someone who has been raised with and has deep commitments to the scientific paradigm, but who has a storehouse of memories from a wild youth that fit ill within that paradigm rang big bells, and struck me as an attractive proposition. They say we all have a book inside us, and my book would be very much about the radical dissonance between my commitment to the scientific worldview and the period of profound and often bizarre mystical experiences of earlier years, which today I cannot cease to question and miss with an abiding ache. The author writes sensitively and evocatively, with unusual psychological perspicuity, and while reading I found myself carried along on a wave of fellow feeling. But when I got to the end it seemed we had never made it quite into the world where my own perplexities and radical contradictions reside. In the end it left me feeling exactly the same as when I had started, and it had taken me no further towards integration of times and events that make no sense within the reductive-physicalist paradigm.

I actually think there is scope for much more of this sort of thing. The Enlightenment is described as a period in history, long past. But the struggle between overwhelming intuitions of the numinous and the mundane world of deterministic cause and effect is taking place in the hearts of millions of men and women every day; often with pain, or at least perplexity; and often in silence, without knowing to whom one might turn without being taken for a fool or worse. The Enlightenment is actually a process that cannot be avoided by each of us that has the implacable need for the deep truths of existence, whether they can be had or not, made only keener by the removal of succor from bronze-age mythologies of white-bearded patriarchs in the clouds. The tension between the profound need to know and the certainty that it can never be known is, for so many of us, the existential and unspoken essence of our times.
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