Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Love and Other Ways of Dying: Essays” as Want to Read:
Love and Other Ways of Dying: Essays
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Love and Other Ways of Dying: Essays

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  740 ratings  ·  131 reviews
LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD - NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS - In this moving, lyrical, and ultimately uplifting collection of essays, Michael Paterniti turns a keen eye on the full range of human experience, introducing us to an unforgettable cast of everyday people.

Michael Paterniti is one of the most original and empathic storytelle
Paperback, 464 pages
Published June 28th 2016 by Dial Press (first published March 3rd 2015)
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 Love and Other Ways of Dying, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Danny Yes. Richard Poe is a fantastic narrator, and I greatly enjoyed the audiobook.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  740 ratings  ·  131 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Love and Other Ways of Dying: Essays
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
3 ½ stars. I listened to the audio of Love and Other Ways of Dying. It is a collection of essays by Michael Paterniti that he has written over the last 25 years or so. Most essays focus on different people around the world – dealing with themes of survival and death in one way of another. There is a certain whimsy to some of the essays – a man stranded at Charles de Gaulle airport for over 14 years, a man who showed up in a hospital in Toronto having ostensibly lost his memory and any clue about ...more
Mike Paterniti is slyly profound. It is hard to pick a favorite among these essays, and it gets harder the more distance one gets from reading them. They stay around like a seed planted. They grow. It is easy to underestimate Paterniti because his writing voice is self-deprecating and meant to be goofily funny. But a couple of essays in this nonfiction collection prove his bonafides as someone who knows what seeing is, what wonder is. These essays range the world, and though early on I’d picked ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

After reading The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese with one of my book clubs and taking a class in creative non fiction, I was drawn to this book of essays. And like most books of essays, I found I really enjoyed some and skimmed through others. I don't think that's necessarily a comment on the author's writing as much as stylistic preference, interest in subject
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Paterniti brings a blend of curiosity, empathy and spectacular writing to this remarkable essay collection. There were some essays that resonated more with me than others, but I learned from all of them and feel fortunate to have had this reading experience.
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5-stars, really.

right up front, i am going to apologize, this is a long ramble-y mess. i know that. but this book... ooof! it creates feelings, and my brain is fairly swimming for all the thinking. sorry!!
"I want to see it, whatever it is. If it's war, if it's suffering, if it's complete, unbridled elation, I just want to see what that looks like—I want to smell it, I want to taste it, I want to think about it, I want to be caught up in it." - Michael Paterniti
the human body is an incredible
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cat by: Shalinee
Let me set any of your misapprehensions aside from the outset. This really is a book about death. When I picked it up, I thought the title was catchy--a post-Gonzo-journalism way of alluding to the intensity of the writer's travels and experiences. But no. This collection is about death--death by plane crash, death by car accident, death by cancer, death by giantism, death by genocide, death by tsunami, death by plane crash (again). You get the picture. If you are not ready for an essay collecti ...more
Chris Blocker
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Essays aren't my thing. Not usually. I've read a good essay now and then, but an entire collection of essays, especially a rather lengthy one, rarely breaks my top 100 most desired reads. But I was enticed by the pretty cover and the hype, so I decided to give Michael Paterniti's collection, Love and Other Ways of Dying, a try. I'm glad I did.

Paterniti begins with a quote from Steinbeck. Not just any quote, but the dedication Steinbeck included with his manuscript of East of Eden that he sent to
Jaclyn Day
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book of essays read smoothly, like a glass of good wine, though not all the stories are easy reads. It’s a strong collection and a few were really memorable. I loved the one about his visit to El Bulli in Spain. The Long Fall of Flight 111 Heavy–which you can read here on Esquire–was particularly meaningful to me since I have family in the area. ...more
Laura Hoffman Brauman
3.5 stars. This is a harder one for me to rate. The writing in here is 5 stars all the way through --but it's an essay collection, and while some were among the best essays I have read, others just didn't interest me. I think that the unevenness for me is probably it's because this is just a collection of essays he has written rather than a collection of essays around a specific theme or topic. ...more
Kent Winward
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection is excellent. Paterniti has a knack for finding the extraordinary ordinary and the ordinary in the extraordinary, not to mention the extraordinary. A strong collection of stories and essays spanning a couple of decades. The original essay that became the book Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain is in here and I especially enjoyed "The House that Thurman Munson Built." The giant in the Ukraine was unsettling as a visit with a giant might be. ...more
Michael Paterniti writes the kind of journalistic pieces and personal essays that have that slow, delicious build I relish. As with all great long-form writing, the experience depends on you being a good reader. In other words, you have to be willing to go the distance and stick around even when the story wanders, even when you the story seems to digress and lose its way, or when the author seems to break journalistic boundaries.

Love and Other Ways of Dying is a collection that showcases P
Feb 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I was teetering between giving this book 2 or 3 stars because it really just did not thrill me. But I decided on 3 stars because some of the stories were beautifully written and interesting nonetheless.

I won’t pretend like I requested the book for any other reason than it looked interesting and I love free books. I had absolutely no idea who Michael Paterniti was and by the time I got the book to read I had actually f
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of Paterniti's journalism articles on diverse subjects from downed flights to ingenious chefs to persistent immigrants has some fine examples of great long-form journalism. Paterniti has a knack for telling the story from the human point of view, sometimes even adding too much sentiment to call it just journalism, but a creative force that dissects and adds to what the eye can see, what the records show, what the eye witnesses can account for.

The Long Fall of Flight One-Eleven H
Jennifer Doyle
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sap
Like This American Life, but worldwide. Literary journalism, a term I hadn't ever heard (maybe that's weird?), but the blurb on the back described it this way and that's exactly what this is. Profound, chilling. Really well written. I'll be thinking of many of these essays for a long time.

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I should probably mention that.
a collection of paterniti's magazine articles/essays. he has a strong talent of conjuring up reader's empathy and twisting it tight like a dish rag so that one becomes invested in the most varied and strange tragedies and wonders. ...more
I only read the first few essays (and then got distracted by other books I'd been waiting to read) - airplane crash was heart wrenching but uplifting, El Bulli was good but odd, didn't like the Midwestern hotel. 3 stars based on what I did read. ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Some essays require skipping (there are a few about sports figures and people who delight in driving a species of bird to extinction), but those that remain are terrific. Collected over many years, even those that are now outdated are fascinating.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing stories, amazing writing, amazing collection!
Andrea Pins
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Melancholy but bright essays on love and mortality written in a way I can only describe as writing for writers. The word choice was poetic and heartbreakingly beautiful at times.
Karna Converse
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whatever you call it—literary journalism, narrative nonfiction, or creative nonfiction—Michael Paterniti has been doing it for twenty years and for some of the biggest names in the magazine world (GQ, Esquire, Harper's, The New York Times Magazine). In Love and Other Ways of Dying, he introduces readers to 17 people and the places and events that made these interview subjects who they are. A collection of work like this can sometimes be monotonous to read, but I found the book riveting from page ...more
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received a complimentary copy of this from goodreads and would like to say some words regarding it.

Devastating. Every story was gut-wrenching in the way that you feel that having a normal day is an affront to the incomprensible enormity of the mass of human suffering. His stories remind one that one can die at any moment and there's no way to prepare for it. Very little is okay for the people he describes and meets in this book and any pleasantness seems an offensive forgetting of their suffer
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every single one of the essay stands alone as a great piece of literature, but together they create something more. Paterniti has transcended writing in a way that few others do. He has managed to capture the true depth of human emotion, pain and death, hunger, happiness, love, regret - not only does he capture it, but he presents it with appreciation and curiosity and humanity. Not to sound overly metaphorical, but I feel like this book could breathe, that's how human it is. Few stories have ma ...more
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This author is really good at starting off making you wonder why in the world you're reading a story about baseball, then he starts developing the characters, and pretty soon, you're weeping because you lost your father. But it's not really you, but couldn't it be? I really really loved the audio version of these essays. I kept reminding myself that they are essays, because I was swept away like they were fictional short stories. I kept thinking I found my favorite, but now that I've heard them ...more
Superb journalism that is worth reading and rereading. My favorite is "Eating Jack Hooker's Cow" because it went in a different direction from what I had expected. ...more
I'm not sure what prompted me to buy this book in 2012 and finally read during these past few months, but I'm so glad I discovered Paterniti. I read his exquisite essays slowly. There is no other way. Again and again I was astounded by how he was able to write about super difficult topics with beauty and sensitivity. A couple of times I was not certain I was going to be able to finish an essay, including the opening essay, "The Long Fall of Flight One-Eleven Heavy" and "Never Forget" about the K ...more
Brian Alan S
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a peculiar set of essays with the most unthinkable of topics! It opens up strange and haunting realities. You will get a glimpse into the life of a giant who is eight feet four inches (and still growing!), be introduced to the person who stole Albert Einstein’s brain and the suicide catcher at Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge. You will learn about a controversial anatomy book that was made during World War 2 (creepy!) and Cambodia’s dark time of the Khmer Rouge.

The writing is mesmerising. I
Christina Gottwalt
A unique and refreshing collection of essays about people and life. Some of the historical events are well-known (the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia) and some are just small snippets of everyday life (the Astro motel). The real beauty of these essays, however, is their voice---regular, everyday people. Michael Paterniti goes out of his way to bring us the human race, unglorified, unknown, and unpredictable. Other than Albert Einstein, Thurman Munson, and Francois Mitterrand, you will likely recognize n ...more
Kathie Harper
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fair warning, this collection of essays is not an easy read. In fact, they would be more palatable if they were read in small doses as they were initially meant to be read, solitary and in various publications. I agree with the reviewer who said they are about death but then who would buy the book if the title was reversed: Death and Other Ways of Loving. Like in most collections, some of them are better than others or are more suited to the reader's personal taste and interest. If I were to pic ...more
Rita Ciresi
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always learn something new and interesting about the world--but also about the author--when I read Michael Paterniti's essays. Many of the pieces in this collection marry investigative journalism with personal essay. Some of my favorites were "The Long Fall of Flight One-Eleven Heavy," (about a tragic plane wreck that morphs into a gorgeous, lyric meditation on the fate of souls), "The Accident" (concerning the long-term effects of the death of a high school friend in a car wreck)-- "The Suici ...more
Joanna Dean
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book because I liked the cover and the title; I did not know who the author was, which I am surprised about. The book is pretty much about different deaths. When I read the first story, I thought it was fiction, and didn't really care for it, but as I read the rest, I realised that they're all true, and this made them all pretty fascinating. I Googled 99% of the people who were the stories' subjects, and that made it even more interesting. Some of them were terribly depressing, and ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West
  • Kilometer Zero
  • The Best American Travel Writing 2020
  • Trafficking in nostalgia: Essays from memory
  • The Harpy
  • Arts & Entertainments
  • Waiting
  • The Collected Stories
  • Seneca Falls Inheritance (Glynis Tryon, #1)
  • The Fortress of Solitude
  • Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback
  • The Liar's Dictionary
  • The Witches Are Coming
  • The Half Sister
  • The Souls of Yellow Folk: Essays
  • Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America
  • The Yellow House
  • Mexican Gothic
See similar books…
Michael Paterniti won the 1998 National Magazine Award for his article "Driving Mr. Albert," which was first published in Harper's Magazine. A former executive editor of Outside, his work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, Details, and Esquire, where he is writer-at-large. He lives in Portland, Maine, with his wife and son. ...more

News & Interviews

  If you listen to NPR regularly, you’ve likely heard the voice of Shankar Vedantam, the longtime science correspondent and host of the radio...
5 likes · 0 comments
“Perhaps we really are surrounded by the past, made prisoners of it. No matter how far we travel, how hard we try to forget, the scarred tree forever stands by the side of the road, if only in our minds. The only way to drive by is to set the past straight, once and for all, by remembering.” 5 likes
“Laughing brings out the good in food. It’s good to laugh. If you don’t laugh, you’re going to magnify. And if you magnify, you’re going to die.” 1 likes
More quotes…