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If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  482 ratings  ·  102 reviews
Neenah Ellis's New York Times bestselling If I Live to Be 100 takes us inside the world of the very old and invites us to learn from them the art of living well for an exceptionally long period of time. Their stories add up to a course in living, with lessons and inspiration for all of us.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
ebook, 272 pages
Published March 3rd 2010 by Harmony (first published August 21st 2002)
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I guess you can see by my book list that there aren't many books that I just plain didn't like. This one got close. I started it in July and just got around to finishing it today, only because I wanted it out of my way. Unfinished books haunt me.

So anyway, I felt like Ellis was looking for some meaning in her own life instead of really taking a close look at the lives of the centenarians she interviewed. In other words, it was about her, not them, when I felt like the real story should have bee
Like the author of this book, I always have assumed I would live to be 100. I didn't even have a word for it when I was younger. (I once, infamously now, thought 100-year-olds were centurians, not centenarians. Made sense to me.) This collection of interview stories is a companion to the NPR series and reveals, in nearly equal parts, as much about the interviewer as the 100+ year old people she interviews. Overall, I was delighted and saddened, as you might expect with these kinds of stories. I ...more
I got this from a fellow book club person. She really liked this book. She loaned it to me to read. I wasn't too sure I would like it when I started the book. But the more I read the more I wanted to know. The book is written of stories of people who are 100 or over in age. These people are amazing. Anna for instance still rows her little boat every morning. This is my favorite story in the book. The author asks...

"Anna, what do people have to look forward to, being a hundred years old?"
David Schwartz
Perhaps I set this book up to fail me. I suppose I was hoping for some great insight regarding life bestowed by the centenarians interviewed for the book but none ever surfaced. The book was almost as much about the author as it was about those she interviewed.

If there were any 'nuggets' to take away, I suppose they would be:

- Don't hate
- Be with other people

On the last point, the author spent some time discussing the concept of 'limbic resonance'. It's said that the limbic system allows mammals
Jane Snyder
This book could have been much better. Half the story was the author/ interviewer, commenting on the things she should have done, the questions she should have asked, ways she could have conducted her interviews more professionally.
How annoying... Why should I read something that the author herself knows is poorly done. Finally, I so totally agreed that I quit reading.
Sarah Lahey
I really did not like this book. I agree with a lot of other people who found that the author was looking for answers she wanted to hear, rather than just sitting down and listening to what these centenarians had to say. Of course, all writers cannot help but put some part of themselves into their writings, but I found the amount of her thoughts versus the actual stories of older people to be incredibly annoying and lacking great insight in a place where so much should have existed. I also found ...more
Sheryl Sorrentino
Beautiful "oral histories" of life past 100, with many touching and sobering life lessons along the way.
It's always fascinating to hear personal accounts of the past.
Ellis did an NPR series on the subject and wrote her book after it aired. The stories from the centenarians themselves were okay, but the writer's journey was more moving to me. What struck me the most was the research Ellis did on the connection she felt to her subjects. "I was feeling the emotional states of the centenarians, losing my own state and taking on theirs. And I am beginning to think that the centenarians know about this intuitively. They know how important the connection with other ...more
This is an interesting book by Neenah Ellis, in which she interviews centenarians for the NPR radio series "One Hundred Years of Stories." Neenah sought to find out more about American history by inquiring what these people witnessed in their lifetimes, but found that the interviews were not turning out as she had at first hoped. She found that the centenarians often seemed to have an agenda of their own, could not stay focused, or did not always want to give up all that they knew.

Neenah, in he
Jennifer Stahl
A sweet, humorous, enchanting, sobering, inspiring and easy read. You'll get as much out of it as you want to put IN to it. I recommend keeping a pencil or highlighter nearby to underline or take notes; there are many subtleties and glaring bits of wisdom to be gleaned. Choose to be an active reader while soaking in this book, but there are pages when a cup of tea and a smile are all that's required. Enjoy!
I got this book for Christmas from my sister-in-law. It was a good, fast read. The author doesn't just put together a bunch of heartwarming Chicken Soup for the Soulish stories. She highlights the difficulties in undertaking such a project and she projects her own search for meaning into the interview process as well.
It appears that the website ( has not been updated in quite some time. Since the book was written seven years ago now, I wonder what happened to some of the cent
Abandoned after finally acknowledging that this book was providing me with neither enjoyment nor inspiration after about 150 pages. As another reviewer astutely points out, even the author admits (repeatedly!) that she's doing a lousy job interviewing these people. Even if I live to be 100, life's too short to waste on this book.
This is a nice book that takes you through glimpses of those seniors that have lived at least 100 years. The author takes you through many interviews with those who accept her invitation, and through the book you not only see pictures into their varied lives, but the transformation of the author as she begins to see that the real story is not how they have managed to live so long, but the depths of their experiences.

This is one of those books you can pick up and put down as time allows. The auth
Kary Ross
I enjoyed reading about those folks who lived past their 100th birthday because my grandmother did. It was insightful and funny at times. Also sad at times. But I did like most of it. Parts I would have left out so just scanned those pages. I would probably read some of the interviews again.
What a charming, wisdom filled collection of glimpses into the lives of nineteen centenarians. As rich as their stories were, icing on that tasty cake was the obvious transformation of the journalist whose project it was to find and interview these remarkable people.
Everyone should read this! We can learn so much from those who have lived and survived hard times; the book really shows how your attitude can affect your life, no matter what the circumstances. If your grandparents are alive- hug them!!!
Annmarie Kostyk
Amazing book. A must read. Interviews with centenarians that was part of an NPR show. Heartwarming and sad. All of these people led fantastic lives. Their secret? They went out and actually lived! They did amazing things.
Jessica Weleski
I expected to be riveted by the stories, but as the author herself noted, it was tough sometimes to get stories rich in texture. Many of the centenarians tales were a bit fractured and scarce on details.
I really wanted to like this book, but it lacked so many things. The opening was great, but then the author spent most of her time jumping from person to person and focusing on how her own failures as an interviewer.
Sep 13, 2008 Marissa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who would like a better understand of their grandparents or great grand parents
I work in a Assisted Living home, so this book touched a different note with me than it would with most readers.
If you have a heart for the elderly or enjoy listening to story of the past and pure wisdom, this is a good book for to read.
The book is separated into small chapters, each being about a different centenarian. Some stories where better than others, some inspiring, some sad.
The book really takes you into the mind of someone who is in their last stages of a long life. I thought the wr
I suppose a 'slow read' at times, but it has some small yet meaningful pieces of advice that I have needed these last few weeks.
I very much enjoyed this book- everyone's life is different and it makes me stop and evaluate how I want my life to be.
Jen Westpfahl
A quick read full of sweet stories. Don't be hoping for anything profound though.
A gift from my dear friend Bonnie, who inscribed it "Forget the bus, go for the gusto!" And some of these centenarians are somewhat convincing. If one lives a long life in good health, a long life is worth living, seems to be what I came away with. Ellis does not interview centenarians with dementia; what would be the point, I think is her theory. And the ones who were found for her in news reports or referred by people are all the remarkable people with curiousity and a zest for life. The stori ...more
A easy, peaceful read, but I didn't think the book lived up to the promise of its name.
Mar 07, 2009 MichelleMarie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: old people lovers (like myself)
Based on her NPR radio series about Centenarians. I really enjoyed reading about the current lives of these people. Some were deteriorating while others were very full of life and active.
I plan on living till I am one hundred with my husband so it was nice to see it in action.
I didn't really learn any profound wisdom, and I didn't really like what the author had to add to it but preferred the stories of the cenenarians themselves. It just helps to remember what life used to be like. The sweetn
Maybe a 3.5. I wish there was more from the centenarians themselves and a bit less hand-wringing from the author.
Kate Burgan
Straight forward and filled with some very sweet moments. Enjoyable!
What if you could look into the future and learn what your life would be like during your final years? Undoubtedly you'd expect images of isolation and nursing homes, but Ellis shows us this isn't always the case through conversations with 15 exceptional centenarians she interviewed for this book and a public radio series. This was a beautiful book that I enjoyed reading!! It highlighted the importance of listening and loving. We all could learn something from this group of centenarians.
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