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Extended Audio Sample Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writers Life Audiobook, by Kathleen Norris Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (956 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kathleen Norris Narrator: Kathleen Norris Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2008 ISBN: 9781440613005
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In Acedia & Me, the acclaimed author Kathleen Norris explicates and demystifies the forgotten but utterly relevant concept of acedia, a term that has often been understood as spiritual sloth, but really signifies the serious malady of being unable to care. With great insight and candor, Norris explores acedia through the geography of her life as a writer, her marriage and the challenges of commitment in the midst of grave illness, and her keen interest in the monastic tradition.

She writes of her and her husband David’s battles with acedia and its clinical cousin, depression, and traces acedia’s path through literary and religious history, exposing the damage it does not only to individual lives but also to our culture as a whole, as we are desensitized by ever more intrusive distractions and lose the ability to care about what is truly important. Thus, she finds that the “restless boredom, frantic escapism, commitment phobia, and enervating despair” that we struggle with today are “the ancient demon of acedia in modern dress.”

An examination of acedia in the light of theology, psychology, monastic spirituality, the healing powers of religious practice, and Norris’ own experience, Acedia & Me is both intimate and historically sweeping, brimming with exasperation as well as reverence, sometimes funny, often provocative, and always important.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Polly | 2/14/2014

    " I loved the sections that read like memior. The lengthy quotes from the desert fathers and mothers, on the other hand, were far less interesting or engaging, at least for me. I thought there was a lot more about monks than marriage or a writer's life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracie | 1/29/2014

    " The concept of acedia really drew me into this book, as I readily identified with it--spiritual slothfulness, or as I put it, "knowing what would make you feel better, yet not doing it". Or as St. Thomas Aquinas expressed it, "not following the demands of love". The author, Norris, says acedia is not the same as depression, although they are first cousins. Anyways, I felt like the book was not well organized and somewhat repetitive. Then it seemed like acedia became the underlying cause for everything: greed, materialism, overly busy lives, etc, and I felt the intial meaning got a tad lost. BUT, despite all that, I would still recommend this book because I think a lot of people get little attacks of acedia throughout their lives and this book names it and gives some ideas for how to combat it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle | 1/27/2014

    " I have read all of K Norris' prose (I believe)--she's one of my favorites. This book starts out a little slow talking about acedia--what it is and what it means in the grand scheme of things, but then it moves into the more personal. All of Kathleen Norris' books that I've read have been prose (she's also a poet) and there's always the mention of her poet husband with health problems...and in this book you get more of the story and the story of parts of their marriage. It was really interesting--heart-breaking and hopeful. Really a good read--I will be thinking about this one for a while. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Kirwin | 1/12/2014

    " Kathleen Norris shares her life experiences and relates the comfort she recieved from the Benedictine tradition. The medevial church regarded Acedia, or self-centered apathy, as one of the seven deadly sins. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael Webb | 1/9/2014

    " The most important book I've read in the last ten years. Remarkable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emma | 1/1/2014

    " Deep, interesting, thoughtful. She explores "Acedia" which is a lack of feeling, a sense that who cares, it doesn't matter, why bother. CLosely related to depression, but not the same. Also weaves in the story of her marriage and her husband's failing health. A little too esoteric and preachy for me, but interesting. I am ready to read something a little more lighthearted now! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gc | 12/16/2013

    " Sometimes painful, but always honest. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maggie | 12/10/2013

    " totally worth it. yes. she's got a lot of clear ideas that undercut our current way-of-thinking and brings us back to a practical and accurate understanding of what the heck we are doing as spiritual beings. amen. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Featherbooks | 8/24/2013

    " Skimmed it as the topic is not as compelling to me although she is a good writer and acedia (spiritual melancholia) and monks are of interest to those held near and dear. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Fred Rose | 8/6/2013

    " "Kathleen Norris is one of my favorite writers but she definitely not for everyone. Very spiritual, reflective, thought-provoking. Acedia is the malaise before depression and she expounds on the effect across society and individuals. How to manage sameness over a long life or relationship.." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susie | 8/1/2013

    " This book spoke to me in a way that only a few books have. If you of those people unfortunate to suffer from Acedia, this book will be a huge encouragment. It helps define a very vague affliction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Faith | 7/11/2013

    " I'm reading this on the Kindle. Finding it a very elucidating study of something I never knew about before. Most of it resonates deeply within me but at the same time I find the author's perspective a little odd at times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 B P | 7/10/2013

    " Very useful; it seems like I need to read this one annually. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gwyneth | 3/10/2013

    " I have been reading this book for the past months. Definitely not a page-turner but insightful and interesting. I like Kathleen Norris and learned a lot about her and her faith. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Glenna | 10/27/2012

    " Thoroughly researched and nuanced treatment of depression and its relationship to spirituality, informed by the author's experience "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrea | 6/28/2012

    " I didn't finish it because it was taking me too long to read. But the part that I did read was pretty interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 1/16/2012

    " Kathleen Norris is a religious scholar and a writer. She inispires spirituality and backs up her thoughts with appropriate quotations from the Bible and other spiritual writers. Good reading for spiritual seekers and folks looking for peace. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathleen | 8/8/2011

    " A thoughtful discussion of one of the seven deadly sins, by an author who has an acquaintance with it. Slow going at first, but it got more interesting as Norris told her own story of her husband's long decline. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lindsay Olesberg | 5/5/2011

    " Norris' blend of faith, scholarship, and perspective as a writing is fascinating. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Summisse | 5/1/2011

    " Kathleen Norris books are like an artesian well in the desert. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 3/29/2011

    " Kathleen Norris is a religious scholar and a writer. She inispires spirituality and backs up her thoughts with appropriate quotations from the Bible and other spiritual writers. Good reading for spiritual seekers and folks looking for peace. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer | 1/24/2011

    " a relief and a joy. more of this book is underlined than not underlined, in my copy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joe | 12/29/2010

    " Well worth the time...you may find out a few things about yourself "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ian | 12/19/2010

    " I think I've been suffering from acedia for most of my life. Norris brings the piercing wisdom of the monastics into her own life in a way that made it accessible to my own. I'm grateful and indebted to her. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caroljean | 11/15/2010

    " Who knew a concept from desert monks of the fourth century could be so relevent! The content touched home. The writing style included too many references to philosophers, monks, and mystics for my taste. Most interesting were her musings on acedia and the writer's life. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kate | 9/6/2010

    " I ended up liking Cloister walk so much more. This book wasn't really what I was looking for now. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 8/31/2010

    " Mostly wonderful with moments of very bad theology. Anyone who has been weary with life ought to read this. "

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About the Author
Author Kathleen Norris

Kathleen Norris is the award-winning poet, writer, and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Cloister Walk, Amazing Grace, and Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. An oblate of Assumption Abbey, Norris divides her time between Hawaii and South Dakota.