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If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  575 Ratings  ·  119 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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(showing 1-30 of 1,026)
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Oct 16, 2010 Michelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 19, 2015 Briana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed hearing about the lives of the centenarians, but I could have done without the author's personal story.

I thought this was going to solely be interviews, anecdotes, and history as told by people who have lived 100+ years. That would have been preferable. Inserting her own story felt like it was detracting from the main intent of the book.

I do feel that had I been able to listen to the radio series these interviews were in preparation for, it would have filled in some gaps. The a
Oct 09, 2007 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 06, 2016 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
About as entertaining as you would expect a book about 100 year olds, but shockingly sweet at the same time. I was expecting to learn some new and important facts on how to live a long life but in reality it showed me that there is no secret formula. Instead, each centenarian interviewed found their own personal happiness in different ways that helped them thrive, whether that was a soulmate, peaceful place, friendship, routine, tenacity, expert skill, etc. I loved listening to this as an audio ...more
Jane Snyder
Sep 07, 2011 Jane Snyder rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 04, 2014 Sarah Lahey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 24, 2013 Sheryl Sorrentino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful "oral histories" of life past 100, with many touching and sobering life lessons along the way.
Dec 17, 2010 Kerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's always fascinating to hear personal accounts of the past.
May 05, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 10, 2011 Grace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 22, 2015 Jennifer Stahl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ross Heinricy
This book is one of a kind and relates the stories of centenarians that are interviewed all across the country and from all walks of life. I was taken aback by the casual nature of the subjects and a lack of zeal for life. I was touched by the desire for companionship and how it meant so much for them to be a part of something that involved others.
Mary Lou
Nov 30, 2014 Mary Lou rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
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.
Jun 20, 2014 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge
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.
Jul 26, 2016 Gabbi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED THIS BOOK! I found it on my bookshelf of books I inherited from my mom. My brother had given her the book. It is a wonderful collection of stories of people who lived to be 100+, told by an NPR reporter, so it was wonderfully written. Very inspiring about how to live.
Jan 08, 2015 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Pat Edwards
Nov 07, 2015 Pat Edwards rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Completed the audio version. I enjoyed listening to the centenarians. I wish the interviews had been conducted better. I did not enjoy the portion of the book describing the author's process. She whined a lot and has almost no interviewing skills. Sadly...
Feb 17, 2014 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!!!
Nov 15, 2015 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book but didn't love it. I felt that she skimmed over the interviews to tell what she was feeling instead. I guess I was looking for more stories from the centenarians. But this book did make me think of my Grandma who died at the age of 90 and all the stories she told me. So it was still a good read.
Annmarie (Annie) 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.
May 28, 2016 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It wasn't what I was hoping for, but it was still worth a read. There wasn't an over-arching theme or agenda, which could be good or bad depending on what you're hoping to get out of the book.
Nov 22, 2015 Kaijsa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
I liked the book, but it didn't really have a lot to say. A few interesting stories, a few interesting insights, but not terribly relevant to me. The author was frustrated with some of the interviews and passed that frustration on to the reader. I liked the idea of limbic resonance but felt her attempts to describe it were redundant.
Feb 22, 2015 Gina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 really liked it  ·  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
Jul 04, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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