Review: The New York Times Book of the Dead

By | April 15, 2019
Book of the Dead

The biggest book I’ve ever read (quite literally) except for encyclopedias. It is massive tome – 600+ pages in fine print on a foot-long page.

But do not be daunted by the scale of things. If you set aside 15 minutes or so during your break to read the obituaries in random order (obviously you don’t have to read them all), you’ll finish the book in no time.

Not only does it enlighten one on the art of obituary writing, it transports you through time to relive the lives of giants whose accomplishments, prominence and impact on society “elevate them to a rarefied plane”.

There are many great takeaways, including this one from Ray Charles:

“When I started out I tried to imitate Nat Cole because I loved him so much,” Mr. Charles said. “But then I woke up one morning and I said, ‘People tell me all the time that I sound like Nat Cole, but wait a minute, they don’t even know my name.’ As scared as I was – because I got jobs sounding like Nat Cole – I just said, ‘Well, I’ve got to change because nobody knows who I am.’ And my Mom taught me one thing, ‘Be yourself, boy,’ And that’s the premise I went on.”

The introduction alone is well worth the read.

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