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On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard
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On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  2,280 ratings  ·  272 reviews
An inspirational memoir about how Jennifer Pastiloff’s years of waitressing taught her to seek out unexpected beauty, how deafness taught her to listen fiercely, how being vulnerable allowed her to find love, and how imperfections can lead to a life full of wild happiness.

Centered around the touchstone stories Jen tells in her popular workshops, On Being Human is the sto
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Dutton
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Crystal-lee Quibell Definitely I think you should check it out. There is plenty of content that speaks to everyone who may have struggled or is struggling and looking for…moreDefinitely I think you should check it out. There is plenty of content that speaks to everyone who may have struggled or is struggling and looking for a way to get themselves out of the bullshit story they keep telling themselves. ie) not good enough, too late for me etc...(less)

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 ·  2,280 ratings  ·  272 reviews

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Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I’m not one to abandon books, but I’m over 200 pages in and feel done with this one. The message is fine, but the writing, while lovely enough, is meandering.
Katie Devine
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jennifer Pastiloff's debut memoir is a cliche-busting, genre-bending, tour de force story of a woman who lives her life under her own created mantra, "I have done love." This exploration of a childhood shaped around the early loss of her beloved father, and a coming of age haunted by anorexia and depression is so deeply personal and corporeal that it becomes universal and palpable in its telling. When reading about Pastiloff starving herself through her teens and 20s, my stomach ached. When she ...more
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Stunning, perfect, messy, and all-around wonderful.

I wasn't familiar with Pastiloff's work before reading the book. I'm sort of horrified by that (WHAT OTHER WONDERFUL THINGS AM I MISSING?!) but it gave me the chance to read this with an open, empty mind.

Now that I'm finished, I want to buy copies of On Being Human and scatter them around like seeds.

It's a memoir, it's self-help, it's help-yourself, it's sad, it's funny, it's inspiring. It's also about the power of yoga, and though I haven't d
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
There's so much I want to say about this book that I don't really know where to begin. I had never heard of Jen Pastiloff before I picked up this book. I picked it because the title (and the cover) spoke to me.

This book is mostly a memoir of the author as she goes through her life's journey and then there are many sections that could be qualified as self-help through the realizations she's sharing along the way. But the whole time it's about her and it's not lecturing you as if she knows what's
Francesca Pohlman
Aug 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
100 pages could have easily told the story. Lots of repetition. Seemed a little self-absorbed.
Genevieve Trono
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
On Being Human is the best title ever, and before this book, I had never heard of Jennifer Pastiloff...but the cover totally sold me. This book is primarily a memoir of Pastiloff's life from childhood to present. She did not have an easy road and parts of this book were incredibly difficult to read but I so appreciated her honesty and her ability to share in such a raw and open way.

I always love memoirs and think sharing our stories is SO important, even when they are not totally relatable to us
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
I totally don’t get what all the fuss is about. Some of it resonates, but it’s not anything new:
-Everyone has an inner asshole (IA) to whom you should not listen;
-We are all enough;
-It is incredibly hard to break pattens, how we can’t beat ourselves up when we struggle. We all struggle. Always. It’s part of being human;
-You only need two things — listen and tell the truth
-From noonday Depression “Depression is a response to past loss; anxiety is a response to future loss”
-She plays a game: smil
ashley  lloyd spanton
There was a ton of buzz about this book before it came out and I had been trying to get a copy without even really knowing what it was about. It seems like Jennifer Pastiloff is well connected and respected in the yoga and wellness community, but frankly I hadn’t seen her name around much prior to the release of this book. That said, I’m always interested in listening to and reading about new ways to better myself and like to keep an ear out for helpful mantras and this was being set up to provi ...more
Dan Connors
Jun 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-books
I am not the target market for this book but was curious. It definitely speaks more to women, especially those who do yoga or travel a lot. The first half was terribly depressing and made me glad I've never had to inhabit a woman's psyche. Holy crap the kinds of stuff the author brings up.

Jennifer Pastiloff apparently has a large following online and on her yoga retreats, but I just can't relate other than to appreciate her victories over deafness, depression, and a myriad of other problems. Th
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Couched in beautiful, often heartfelt, sometimes humorous, and always honest writing, Jennifer Pastiloff spoke to her insecurities growing up and how she hid hearing loss for years and put off grieving her father's abrupt death for longer, all while finding out what she loved to do which is to uplift the minds and bodies of others through yoga and more. We all should kick out our IAs (Inner Asshole- that voice that tells us we can't or are too X) and do what we need to in order to best utilize t ...more
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Raw, real and unforgiving in its honesty, this is a book about the messiness of being human. It should be required reading for every human, especially those with an IA - Inner Asshole - as the author calls it. And we all have one.

A few favorite quotes:

“Nothing is lost when you dump the untruths.” - page 118

“The things we take. The things handed to us that we walk around with as they dig into our shoulder and cause us pain and yet we say, ‘No, I’m fine. I got this. I can carry it all. It’s mine.
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I adore this book so much. It hit me hard (and light) and I want to give it to everyone and start reading it all over again right now. Jen's own story is a great read but more than that her voice, her generosity, her humor is so relatable and just inspired me on so many levels but mostly to be kinder to myself and to everyone else. She is a real "beauty hunter" and this book, by example as much as anything else, made me into one, too.
Crystal-lee Quibell
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jen gets real about all the ways in which we talk down to ourselves and believe our own bullshit stories. Reading this book is like going to coffee with your best friend who asks you, “Now what?!” when you’re in the throes of a meltdown going nowhere. This book will lift you up, dust you off and leave you feeling like you've just returned from the biggest love fest with all of your best friends cheering you on. Throughout the book Jen shares the story of learning to listen fiercely (even though ...more
Caitlin Dougherty
Apr 26, 2020 rated it did not like it
I made it almost half way through this book before deciding to call it quits. I respect Jennifer Pastiloff's life work and the positive reviews that others have shared about this book. However, I could not get past the romanticizing of her eating disorder and the anorexia blue print she laid out for her readers. As someone in recovery, reading her story was triggering, not because she talked about it but because of the unnecessary details shared.
I hope my review can be a warning to anyone strug
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was completely unfamiliar with Jen Pastiloff when I picked this up--which was interesting, because a good chunk of the memoir is about how her increasing online popularity changed her life, etc. But you can't win everybody I guess! I'm glad I heard of her now!

This is definitely a bit woo-y and The Secret-adjacent, but in the way that I like, not the kind that full-on blames poor people for being poor. The writing is lovely. It's very good for the kind of thing that it is; if you don't already
Loved her journey. Loved how she honored those who supported her and made her successes possible. Raw at times. Grown up words. ❤❤❤ The kind of story that makes you better for having heard it.

Everything I was hoping from Girl Wash Your Face.

I listened to the audio version read by the author. I loved hearing her voice impacted by her inability to hear. If you are particular about readers, the print version may be better for you.
Natalie Park
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
This book spoke to me so much that I found the closest workshop (in Seattle) and signed up for it on the spot. She shares so openly, honestly and authentically that I highly recommend listening to her in the audiobook. If you’re open to it, it could be life changing!
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the perfect un-memoir from an anti-guru: Jen Pastiloff is a Happiness Coach who lives with crippling depression, a deep listener who ignored her deafness for decades, a waitress who fed other people while starving herself, and a yoga teacher who struggled to connect with her own body. Next time you think your yoga teacher has a perfect life full of ~namaste~ and cleanses and deep breathing and inner calm... tell yourself to cut the bullshit story. I appreciate Jen's ability to hold multi ...more
Amy Bond
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jen Pastiloff's message is about love. full stop. She is the embodiment of giving and lifting up others and believing that there is enough for all of us to be our truest, most selfless versions of ourselves.

Jen talks about her experience waitressing, surviving with depression, trying to make it as an actress in LA, yogaing, deafness, fierce listening and through it all, overcoming her own self doubt to make her life about service to others. I can't think of a more beautiful message to share wit
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jen Pastiloff is a beautiful and generous soul. She is a master at getting people unstuck in their lives. Her book will help you get unstuck, too.
Ranjan Patel, Psy.D, MFT
I finished it, which says a lot because at this point in my life I don't waste time unless I'm sufficiently gripped by it. Her story has a lot going for it, and the way she tells it is especially sweet. The writing won't win any prizes, it's redundant in many places, and there's not a sense of cohesiveness. The unfolding and linear timeline of her life is discordant at times. I would've wanted her to write about her relationship to being deaf for most of her life, and also what it was like for h ...more
Sherry  Jones
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was not familiar with Jennifer Pastiloff before reading this book. I bought the audiobook for a road trip and fell in love! I've now purchased the hard copy book because there were so many wonderful passages that I must have access to in the written word. It is beautifully written, incredibly honest, and something I think any woman could relate to.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book!!! I loved her raw honesty and humility and enjoyed seeing her grow and rise. I love her perspectives on life and will reflect back on her wisdom often. Beauty hunting. Just so lovely.
I didn't know if I'd like this because I'm not a huge yoga fan...I pretty much always wish it was over the whole time I am doing it...but I heard good things about her writing, so I thought I'd go for it. I'm glad I did. It was an interesting memoir of someone who dealt with the loss of her father at a young age, as well as anorexia, deep depression and hearing loss. These experiences led her down a winding path to becoming a yoga instructor and opened her up to become a radically compassionate ...more
Courtney Balleau
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth Popielarz
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it
There were parts of this book that I loved, but then there were parts that I couldn’t wait to get through. For some reason, I was looking for more depth, but her style of writing didn’t warrant this for me. It seemed like she went on and on about certain things (her waitressing) yet it all came off so topical in nature. Towards the end, I was counting the pages until it was done. If you don’t mind choppy writing and a book that reads more like a social media post, then perhaps you’ll get more fr ...more
Sep 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Honestly couldn’t decide between 2 and 3 stars, but I decided to be generous. I think I just wanted more from this book, given that I love yoga and self-help and memoirs. But it was so meandering and all-over-the-place. I had trouble following the chronology. Could have perhaps used better editing. I took away some nuggets — hence the 2 to 3 rating. But overall, I was disappointed.
Dec 16, 2019 added it
I saw Cheryl Strayed recommended this book so it was on my 'must read' list but meh, I just didn't connect. I normally love honest, raw women's memoirs but something was a bit off about this one.. I don't know as another reviewer has said that you needed to know her but it just came off as self absorbed and repetitive. It's a shame as she obviously shared a lot but i wouldn't recommend.
Louise Miller
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this feverish memoir that speaks to the struggle and necessity of having compassion for yourself. Joyful, honest, funny, true.
Karen Germain
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Penguin Group Dutton for providing me with a copy of Jennifer Pastiloff’s memoir, On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard, in exchange for an honest review.

Jennifer Pastiloff has built an incredible life. She is in a loving marriage, has a beautiful child, and has created a successful career as an inspirational leader of life changing yoga retreats. However, the road to Pastiloff’s currently life was bumpy.

Pastiloff had a tumultuous childhood, which in
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Jen Pastiloff travels the world with her unique workshop “On Being Human,” a hybrid of yoga related movement, writing, sharing out loud, letting the snot fly, and the occasional dance party. Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, calls Jen “a conduit of awakenings.” Jen has been featured on Good Morning America, New York Magazine, Health Magazine, CBS News and more for her unique style of teaching, which ...more

Articles featuring this book

Nonfiction readers know there's nothing more fascinating than the truth and nothing more compelling than reality. This year...
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“May I have the courage to be who I say I am.” 7 likes
“Depression is a response to past loss, and anxiety is a response to future loss.” 5 likes
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