Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Beginner's Guide to Living” as Want to Read:
The Beginner's Guide to Living
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Beginner's Guide to Living

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  300 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Seven days after his mother dies in a sudden, senseless accident, seventeen-year-old Will embarks on a search for meaning that leads him to the great philosophers--Plato, Seneca, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche--and to Taryn, the beautiful girl he meets at his mother's wake. Will is desperate to find, however he can, something authentic, something ultimate, something so true he wou ...more
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published February 2nd 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Beginner's Guide to Living, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Beginner's Guide to Living

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 692)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Tye Cattanach
“God, Mum, where are you? Are you disappointed I’m crap at all this? You never told me what to do when you died, but you should’ve, because it’s the only thing we can be sure of. Death gets us all in the end.” (Page 5 The Beginners Guide To Living.)

There is a saying in Philosophy about ‘active laziness’. It alludes to those who are perpetually busy. Life is always hectic, there are always a million things to do and they all need to be done now. People who live with the condition of active lazine
...more
Jacki
Summary: Following his mother's tragic death by drunk driver, young Will must deal with his (metaphorically) lost father, angry elder brother, and his own questions and angst about the meaning of life and death. Initially he looks for answers in a new and passionate relationship with free-spirited Taryn, but he learns grief can't be washed away with love or sex.

Verdict: An interesting portrait of grief, punctuated by photographs meant to have been taken by Will with his mother's camera.

Yay!: A s
...more
Kelly
It took me a long time to get into this and buy into Will, but when I did, I really, really liked this story. It's about grief and death, but it's about hope and living, too. There's love and philosophy, and as much as it could come off as a kid being too smart for himself, it's not at all. It's Will pushing grief away, rather than dealing with it.

Hills has a fantastic and poetic writing style, and this book mixes it up with flashbacks and images that make up Will and his mother's story lines.
...more
Adele
The divine Simmone Howell mentioned that she was reading this little gem on her blog a few weeks back. I decided then that I needed to get my hands on it then.

Reading this book was like slipping into a tub full of warm words. They slip over you, sink in, resonate. Worm their way into your consciousness. It's not surprise that Hills is a poet because every line in this book was beautiful. Reading about this boy's exploration into his mother life and death, what the purpose of life truly is and th
...more
Angela C
The Beginner’s Guide to Living is a book that you may not appreciate until you finish reading it and have a chance to sit back and reflect. While I was in the process of reading, I wasn’t impressed. There are a few passages that just seem weird, as if there is no real purpose for their inclusion. There’s a moment in the book, for example, when Will is taking a bath and farts in the tub. What the heck is that about? Why did the author feel the need to mention it? Again, super weird.

Luckily, Hills
...more
Courtney
The beginners guide to living really isn't a guide let alone one for beginners. This book basically shows you all the things you shouldn't do such as several drugs to escape your problems, befriend strangers and take drugs they give you, have sex with a girl you only just met and become a graffiti artist by way of cheap spray paint. Will, our main character has lots of unresolved personal issues that resurface at the moment his mothers death seems to sink in. He meets this girl named taryn at hi ...more
Luscinnia
Sehr dicht geschrieben und man bekommt extrem viel, über das man eine Weile nachzudenken hat. Dazu kommt eine Auswahl von Philosophen. Mir hat es sehr gut gefallen und ich weiß mindestens drei Leute, an die ich das Buch weiterverschenken werde. Allerdings ist es mir nach wie vor ein Rätsel, warum die Leute in der Buchhandlung dieses Buch unter "Fantasy" einsortiert hatten. Es ist zwar eher auf ein jugendlicher(es) Publikum ausgerichtet, hat aber mit Fantasy so überhaupt gar nichts zu tun.
Trish Doller
God, I wish I had written this book. *sigh*
Diane Ferbrache
When Will’s mother is killed by a drunk driver, he finds himself angry and lost and questioning the meaning of life. His father has disappeared into work and alcohol. His brother has returned home to live, but is only present in body and frequent absences make that even rare. Will seeks answers in books of philosophical writings, meditation, sex, and drugs, and he falls in love for the first time. He soon discovers that none of that is very satisfying or comforting.
This is a wonderfully writte
...more
Brittany
Poweful stuff. I loved how the philosophy aspect of it carried throught the wzhole thing even when it was divided into parts. Though Lia said that if Will were to write a book the 2 parts would be about death and love respectively, if there were 4 parts, it would be different. Personally, Part 1 was about death. 2 about love. 3 about drugs. And 4 about Will finding himself\resolution. Overall, really good. It was interesting how people he met ha suffered a death or other tragedy. Cherry's charac ...more
Kat Alexander
Will never called his mom "mother" until after she died. But three days later, it's "my mother" this and "my mother" that. Maybe it's less painful than calling her "Mom". Now that she's dead and all.

Now that she's dead and all, Will is painfully confronted with the fact of her--and his own--mortality. What's it mean to die? To live? Will finds new love just days after, and throws himself into the search for answers. In philosophy, Western and Eastern, in love, in other people. In the woods outsi
...more
Asaviel
Diese Geschichte setzt genau zu dem Zeitpunkt ein, zu dem Wills Mutter stirbt. Der Leser ist nicht dabei, denn er folgt ausschließlich Will, denn es wird immer aus seiner Perspektive erzählt. So wird eben auch aus seiner Sicht erzählt, dass er nichts gespürt hat, als seine Mutter plötzlich aus dem Leben gerissen wurde.
Natürlich steht nun die Frage offen: Wie soll ein Jugendlicher in diesem Moment weiterleben. Der Verlust schmerzt so sehr, dass Will ihn körperlich spürt. Aus dieser Grundkonstella
...more
Laura
Wills Mutter stirbt nach einem tragischen Verkehrsunfall.
Auf der Beerdigung ringt er um Fassung und ist geschockt, dass er es fertig bringt, sich in so einer Situation zu verlieben.
Er ist vollkommen überfordert mit seinem Schicksal und sucht nach Halt im Leben und der Wahrheit über Leben und Tod. Während sein Vater und sein Bruder die Trauer auf ihre ganz eigene Art verarbeiten, stürzt sich Will in seine Beziehung zu Taryn. Sein Alltag gerät auf der Suche nach dem Sinn seiner Existenz mächtig in
...more
John Clark
Will's Mom was killed by a drunk driver as she was getting out of her car for a doctor's appointment. Everyone in the family is devastated. His father deals with the grieving process by immersing himself in work, neglecting meals, laundry and his sons. Older brother Adam who returned from the far east where he was working, deals with it by being angry and disappearing whenever the situation might trigger feelings he can't control. Will deals with his sense of loss by asking questions and seeking ...more
Paperback Princess
Originally published at Paperback Princess to view in it's entirety pls click here.

As some of my readers may have noticed, I normally create my own synopsis for my reviews. However, I'm struggling to keep up with reviewing the books I've read as it takes me forever to write my own synopsis. I've seen many reviewers using the Publisher's synopsis so I'm going to take this route and see how it goes. Let me know which you all think is better. I wanted to make special mention once again to Lisa from
...more
Emily Hainsworth
Thank you to Tye Cattanach for sending this my way!!

Having written a book about a boy who deals a lot with grief myself, I was really intrigued (and okay a little intimidated) to see how Lia Hills approached the subject…and I couldn’t have been more engrossed by the story. I finished this book in two sittings (FAST for me, ok). Maybe I am a sucker for ~boys in pain~, but I found myself directly inside Will’s head (and sometimes his pants), trying to piece together some meaning out of his mother’
...more
Kricket
will's mother has just been killed by a drunk driver, and life no longer makes any sense. he, his brother adam, and their father are all grieving in different ways. will embarks on a personal search for meaning by reading philosophy, falling in love, and experimenting with drugs, nature, vandalism, and religion. he develops the film left in his mother's camera to see the last photos she took. but there don't seem to be any answers.

i wanted to love this book, but i just liked it. it had so many w
...more
Emily
When I first started this book, I was immediately gripped by its language. It captured the raw, honest pain and emptiness of losing a loved one, yet it was also poetic. My initial thought was "this is going to be a five-star book!"
However, it did not continue the way it started. Will went from being an intensely real narrative voice and character to being annoying and stupid.
It did improve around the end, and I still think it was a good read; my only wish is that it continued the way that it st
...more
Nicy
I think that's the most philosophical book I've ever read. I really liked it because it makes you think a lot - about death, about life, about what you actually want to achieve during your lifetime. But because of that, it's hard to read this book just while waiting for the bus or something (at least if you really want to "dive head first into" the book). And if you want something easy to read, you probably should choose another book, I guess.
Natalie
The idea behind this book was good. However, it skipped around a lot and was confusing. Also, the plot was very dry and boring. I finished it, but only because I thought it might get interesting later on. It deteriorated from what I thought was going to be an interesting, philosophical fiction book into a basic romance novel.
Patricia
Rounding out our month of dead people, seventeen-year-old Will's mother was killed unexpectedly and he deals with the loss by studying philosophers and having sex. I find this to be not the worst combo one could come up with. I thought the depiction of grief was pretty accurate and the book well written.
Kristylemmon
This book was nominated in the NZ Post Children's Book awards, but it is set in Australia. It's about a 17 year old boy whose mom dies unexpectedly and the first few month of he and his dad and brother coping with her death. I wanted to read it because my mom died when I was 15 and I was surrounded my grieving males that were difficult to understand. I think this book gives reasonably good insight into what the experience of losing a parent in your teen years feels like. I related to and enjoyed ...more
Katie Joiner
What a cool book! At the library, I usually pick out a book to balance the heavy-duty Toni Morrison/Amy Bloom/Edgar Allan Poe book I'm reading. This week, "Beginners Guide" was that book. It was sad, but not in a bawl-your-eyes-out kind of way. Will's dynamic, intresting, and realistic charecter makes the book worthwhile. A plot twist in the end makes you even more attached to Will.
Taryn is an awesome charecter. In a few books that I've read, the After Death girlfriend can be irritating and mea
...more
Jasmine
It did not change my life, however, I do think it is worth reading. Interesting writing, characters that well semi well developed, and the novel actually made me think about it after reading. Decent.
Carrie
So, I really don't like philosophy, and I suppose the way to get me to read a book about it is to disguise the philosophical bits inside a angsty teen novel where the mother dies. Like mashing up a cat's medication and putting it in tuna fish.

Except, even without all the philosophy, it wasn't that great of a novel. Really not at a tuna fish level. There's one of those excessively quirky free spirit girlfriends who says wise things and introduces him to sex and drugs. AND there's philosophy.

(It
...more
Lake Agassiz Regional Library
This is the story of a young man's search for meaning after his mom dies. He discovers the great philosophers, finds his first love, and makes use of his public library!
Janaya
This was a really amazing book. I love books where readers are given the utmost connection to the main characters, mentally. It was nice experiencing Will's mourning with him and seeing him sprout into understanding. The philosophical references were the icing on the cake as well; I learned about so mant different philosophers and their lives. The only reason I gave it a four was because I felt his relationship with Taryn was too quick and unrealistic in the sexual and relationship terms. It nev ...more
Gabbicalabrese
It is very difficult for me to not like a book. This book achieved that. Perhaps it is because I'm not spiritually intuned or something, but I just could not see the point in this book. There was no riveting climax as I kept expecting there to be. There was no anything. The writing style wasn't good, and neither was the purpose. I guess I kept anticipating something that didn't exist. I pushed on to the end because I was hoping it would grow more interesting. It didn't.

The one thing I may have p
...more
Holly Cagney
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Strawberry
Eigentlich habe ich dieses Buch gestern Abend nur angefangen, weil ich Langeweile hatte. Und dann habe ich es in einem Rutsch durchgelesen (ok, es ist ja auch nicht so dick).
Die Mutter des 17-jährigen Will stirbt bei einem Autounfall. Auf der Trauerfeier verliebt sich Will dann zum ersten Mal so richtig und fühlt sich gleichzeitig schuldig seiner Mutter gegenüber. Er beginnt in einem Notizheft Fragen über den Tod und das Leben festzuhalten und sucht in den Werken verschiedener Philosophen nach A
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 23 24 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Good Daughter
  • Only Ever Always
  • After Summer
  • Beatle Meets Destiny
  • Love-shy
  • Are You Seeing Me?
  • New Guinea Moon
  • The Astrologer's Daughter
  • Pan's Whisper
  • The Girlfriend Project
  • All I Ever Wanted
  • Everything Beautiful
  • Angel Creek
  • Wonderland
  • Broken
  • Saltwater Moons
  • The Dead I Know
  • The Minnow
2817821
Lia Hills is a poet, novelist and translator. Recent publications include her award-winning poetry collection, the possibility of flight. Her translation of Marie Darrieussecq’s novel, Tom Is Dead, was published by Text in 2009. Born in New Zealand, Lia now lives in Melbourne.
More about Lia Hills...
The Possibility of Flight the beginner's guide to life Tom est mort

Share This Book

“Run naked through your fears.” 5 likes
“One should plan for spiritual enlightenment. At least bring a flashlight.” 2 likes
More quotes…