• What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us

  • Who We Become After Tragedy and Trauma
  • By: Mike Mariani
  • Narrated by: Shawn K. Jain
  • Length: 15 hrs and 11 mins
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us

By: Mike Mariani
Narrated by: Shawn K. Jain
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Publisher's Summary

“A bold and intricate exploration of catastrophe as not just a transformative experience or a test case for resilience, but something that completely reinvents us—a reincarnation.”—Robert Kolker, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Valley Road

“A masterpiece—a book that truly captures what it means to be changed by tragedy, and a necessary salve for our troubled times.”—Ed Yong, New York Times bestselling author of An Immense World and I Contain Multitudes

“What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” the adage—adapted from Nietzsche’s famous maxim—goes. But how much truth is there to that ubiquitous, inexhaustible saying? Tracing the lives of six people who have experienced profoundly life-changing events, journalist Mike Mariani explores the nuances and largely uncharted territory of what happens after one’s life is severed into a before and after. If what doesn’t kill us does not necessarily make us stronger, he asks, what does it make us?

When his own life was transformed by the onset of a chronic illness, Mariani turned inward, changing his bustling, exuberant lifestyle into something more contemplative and deliberate. In this ambitious work of narrative reporting, he uses his own experience, as well as lessons from psychology, literature, mythology, and religion, to tell the stories of people living what he describes as “afterlives.” His subjects’ harrowing episodes range from a paralyzing car crash to a personality-altering traumatic brain injury to an accidental homicide that resulted in a sentence of life imprisonment. Their “afterlives,” Mariani argues, have compelled them to supercharge their identities, narrowing and deepening their focus to find a sense of meaning—whether through academia or religion or ministering to others—in lives sundered by tragedy. Only then can these people truly reinvent themselves, testifying to their own unseen multitudes and the valiant mutability of the human spirit.

Delving into lives we rarely see in such meticulous detail—lives filled with struggle, loss, perseverance, transformation, and triumph—Mariani leads us into some of the darkest corners of human existence, only to reveal our endless capacity for kindling new light.

©2022 Mike Mariani (P)2022 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"All of his subjects, Mr. Mariani writes, found their lives broken sharply into a before and an after, and he tells their stories with sensitivity, insight and honesty.”The Wall Street Journal

“There is so much wisdom packed into these pages, all delivered with Mike Mariani’s sparkling prose, keen observations, and deep empathy. What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us is a masterpiece . . . and a necessary salve for our troubled times.”—Ed Yong, author of An Immense World

“Through intimate reportage, Mike Mariani offers a bold and intricate exploration of catastrophe as not just a transformative experience or a test case for resilience, but something that completely reinvents us: a reincarnation. A profound and rewarding read . . . brave and harrowing and wise and bursting with insight.”—Robert Kolker, author of Hidden Valley Road

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One of the best books I've listened to in years.

wonderful story! Great use of language, narrated exquisitely. there's a lot to be gained from listening to this. it's been a long time since I found something this engaging and fulfilling to listen to.

1 person found this helpful