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Together Audiobook Summary

The book we need NOW to avoid a social recession, Murthy’s prescient message is about the importance of human connection, the hidden impact of loneliness on our health, and the social power of community.

Humans are social creatures: In this simple and obvious fact lies both the problem and the solution to the current crisis of loneliness. In his groundbreaking book, the 19th surgeon general of the United States Dr. Vivek Murthy makes a case for loneliness as a public health concern: a root cause and contributor to many of the epidemics sweeping the world today from alcohol and drug addiction to violence to depression and anxiety. Loneliness, he argues, is affecting not only our health, but also how our children experience school, how we perform in the workplace, and the sense of division and polarization in our society.

But, at the center of our loneliness is our innate desire to connect. We have evolved to participate in community, to forge lasting bonds with others, to help one another, and to share life experiences. We are, simply, better together.

The lessons in Together have immediate relevance and application. These four key strategies will help us not only to weather this crisis, but also to heal our social world far into the future.

  1. Spend time each day with those you love. Devote at least 15 minutes each day to connecting with those you most care about.
  2. Focus on each other. Forget about multitasking and give the other person the gift of your full attention, making eye contact, if possible, and genuinely listening.
  3. Embrace solitude. The first step toward building stronger connections with others is to build a stronger connection with oneself. Meditation, prayer, art, music, and time spent outdoors can all be sources of solitary comfort and joy.
  4. Help and be helped. Service is a form of human connection that reminds us of our value and purpose in life. Checking on a neighbor, seeking advice, even just offering a smile to a stranger six feet away, all can make us stronger.

During Murthy’s tenure as Surgeon General and during the research for Together, he found that there were few issues that elicited as much enthusiastic interest from both very conservative and very liberal members of Congress, from young and old people, or from urban and rural residents alike. Loneliness was something so many people have known themselves or have seen in the people around them. In the book, Murthy also shares his own deeply personal experiences with the subject–from struggling with loneliness in school, to the devastating loss of his uncle who succumbed to his own loneliness, as well as the important example of community and connection that his parents modeled. Simply, it’s a universal condition that affects all of us directly or through the people we love–now more than ever.

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Together Audiobook Narrator

Vivek H. Murthy is the narrator of Together audiobook that was written by Vivek H. Murthy

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States appointed by President Barack Obama.  As the Vice Admiral of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, he commanded a uniformed service of 6,600 public health officers globally. During his tenure, Dr. Murthy launched the TurnTheTide campaign, catalyzing a movement among health professionals to address the nation’s opioid crisis. He also issued the first Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, calling for expanded access to prevention and treatment and for recognizing addiction as a chronic illness, not a character flaw. An internal medicine physician and entrepreneur, Dr. Murthy has co-founded a number of organizations: VISIONS, an HIV/AIDS education program in India; Swasthya, a community health partnership in rural India training women as health providers and educators; software company TrialNetworks; and Doctors for America.

Dr. Murthy received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard and his M.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Yale. He completed his internal medicine residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and later joined Harvard Medical School as faculty in internal medicine. His research focused on vaccine development and later on the participation of women and minorities in clinical trials.  Dr. Murthy resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two young children.

About the Author(s) of Together

Vivek H. Murthy is the author of Together

Together Full Details

NarratorVivek H. Murthy
Length10 hours 53 minutes
AuthorVivek H. Murthy
Release dateApril 07, 2020


The publisher of the Together is HarperAudio. includes the following subjects: The BISAC Subject Code is Interpersonal Relations, Psychology

Additional info

The publisher of the Together is HarperAudio. The imprint is HarperAudio. It is supplied by HarperAudio. The ISBN-13 is 9780062913326.

Global Availability

This book is only available in the United States.

Goodreads Reviews


January 25, 2021

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the science behind social connectivity. Vivek does an amazing job connecting together concepts like ACE’s, shame, social infrastructure, natural disasters, medical problems, and cultural differences to form a cohesive story about loneliness. As someone relatively well versed in many of these topics I thoroughly enjoyed the way they were expanded and weaved throughout this book. Bringing medical knowledge, personal experience, and the work of others, Vivek brought a well rounded perspective to this book.


May 09, 2021

Vivek Murthy was the US Surgeon General from 2014 to 2017. After his term had ended, he decided to write a book about one of the main health scourges he had encountered while travelling around the country. Not smoking, or the opioid crisis, but loneliness.Murthy was shocked by the number of lonely patients he met and their struggles really moved him. He tells the story of James, a baker who worked hard at his job and was good at it. He was single but lived among a community of people that he liked and felt appreciated for who he was. Then James won the lottery, and everything changed. He quit his baking role and moved to a luxury house by the ocean. But his life was no longer fulfilling - he didn't know anybody in this new location and he became withdrawn and angry. Spending most of his time alone at home, he put on lots of weight, contracted diabetes and ended up absolutely miserable.There is scientific evidence that loneliness is a danger to our health. Murthy points to a study carried out by Dr Julianne Holt-Lunstad of Brigham Young University. It found that people with strong social relationships are 50 per cent less likely to die prematurely than people with weak social relationships. It also discovered that the impact of loneliness on reducing life span is equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and that it poses a greater risk than obesity or excessive alcohol consumption.However, Murthy also claims that loneliness "serves a vital function by warning us when something essential for our survival - social connection - is lacking." Connecting with other people is the key to beating this hardship, he concludes: "Our greatest moments of joy involve other people - the birth of a child, finding love, reunions with dear friends. And our moments of greatest sorrow often involve separation and loss of those connections - the death of a loved one, a romantic breakup, an irreconcilable dispute with a close friend." So who is this book for? It's not really a self-help guide for lonely folk. It's more an examination of a heartbreaking condition, providing examples of the suffering it has caused and describing the ways in which it can be tackled. Loneliness is something that many people feel shame about admitting to, and maybe a book like this is a valuable way of opening the discussion, and helping us understand that it is far more common affliction than anybody realises. I wouldn't call Together a groundbreaking work full of stunning observations. But it is a compassionate, thought-provoking read, and I hope it provides inspiration to those who chose to fight this silent, deadly epidemic.


December 22, 2020

Loneliness isn't exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of global health issues, but this silent epidemic has exploded during the socially distant Covid-19 era, and thrown a huge monkey wrench into human mental and physical health issues. In the United States, which prides itself as an individualistic culture, loneliness has become the disease people don't want to talk about because it makes them seem weak. What is loneliness? In a world with billions of human beings running around, is it even possible to feel alone? Absolutely. Loneliness isn't the lack of people to hang around with. It's the lack of meaningful social connection with those who are all around you. It's not being comfortable looking at someone in the eye, smiling, waving, or asking for their name. It's feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders and not being able to reach out for help. It's being cut off from friendship, conversation, and sharing interests with others that make the social emotional side of our beings alive and whole. In the movie, Cast Away, Tom Hanks masterfully plays a man going through madness as he's left on an island all alone. His only relationship is with a volleyball that he calls Wilson talking to it daily, and finally deciding to embark on a suicidal ocean voyage rather than fae another day of loneliness. Imagine for just a minute how you would feel if stranded far away from all other human beings- unable to communicate in any way- and how lonely and painful that might feel. For many of us, the opportunities to reach out are everywhere, but we don't take advantage of them. Many of us prefer to stay safe and alone, making our pet dog or cat the closest relationship in our lives. Vivek Murthy was the US Surgeon General under Barack Obama, and has recently been appointed to the same post by Joe Biden. This is his first book and I find it curious that of all the health-related topics he could have chosen, he chose loneliness. I have previously written here about Johann Hari's book, Lost Connections, and Robert Putnam's book, Bowling Alone, both of which cover the same territory. Many of our health problems- anxiety, depression, drug abuse, heart disease and even cancer- can be traced to the lack of meaningful connections in people's lives. Humans are a social animal, able to build the most complex community structures, and our unique abilities to communicate, share emotions, and create meaning have been our secret sauce in building giant economies and nation-states. We are wired to connect to each other, and when we're separated from that connection, we feel real, physical pain. The saddest reality is that loneliness is a vicious cycle. When we are rejected by others, we feel real, intense pain. This pain causes us to look at others not as potential friends, lovers, or colleagues, but as potential threats and sources of even more pain. People coming off of a toxic relationship take a long time to be able to trust others again, if they ever can. In the meantime they question their own likeability, and whether they deserved receiving the pain in some twisted way. Being rejected causes a stress response, making one hyper-vigilant against future possible rejections. It's a trap that can be hard to escape from. The book tries to answer the question of why things seem to be so bad now. What changed in the past generation to make us so disconnected? Murthy points a finger at the usual suspects- the internet, less interaction on the job, and a much faster pace of change that keeps us from staying with the same people too long. He added one other cause that I hadn't thought of before- the fact that many of our connections today are front-loaded with information from dating sites, the internet, and the flood of information out there. The very act of learning about people slowly, while you're interacting with them, is what creates real connection. Front-loaded data makes you think you know that person more than you actually do, and robs you of the chance to learn deeply what makes that person tick. Murthy describes a theory of three bowls of human interactions. In the first bowl, the widest, everybody needs plenty of space and attempts to operate as rugged individuals who need little to no help from anyone else. The second bowl is a collectivist culture that is very, very narrow, where the well-being of the group is paramount and everything is interconnected. The third bowl of culture, which Murthy prefers, is in the middle of the wide and narrow ones- enough space for people to feel unique, but enough connectivity so that no one feels ashamed or embarrassed about reaching out for help. This is the happy medium that seems so elusive in so many parts of life. The book looks at the works of Robin Dunbar, who divided our circles of connection into three groups. Our intimate connections are the ones we spend the most time with, and sometimes they're rewarding but often they aren't. Then there's the relational circle, which includes about 150 people of co-workers, extended family, and neighbors- people who you would say hello to on the street and spend small amounts of time with. Then there's the collective circle, that includes anybody else you might know by sight, but not much else, including people like your mailman, folks at church, very extended family members, and people we interact with on a very limited basis. I would add a fourth circle- celebrities and virtual people who we interact with online only, but never meet in reality and get next to no connection value from. Probably the best and most inspirational part of this book is its stories. Murthy tells stories about people who've gone out of their way to create connection for themselves and their communities. For instance-- A Jewish young man who kept inviting a KKK member to dinner and gradually won him over with simple gestures.- A young woman who had a large table set up in her back yard and invited hundreds of random neighbors from the Nextdoor App to come and share meals there. Many accepted the offer, and the gatherings grew.- A family of a bullied, disabled, young girl who died, that set up a non-profit, Beyond Differences, that has grown into a national organization with the mission to Inspire students at all middle schools nationwide to end social isolation and create a culture of belonging for everyone.- The amazing men's shed project, a non-profit that has spread worldwide with the goal of connecting lonely, retired men with building projects to make them feel connected and useful again.- The community gardening movement that gives lonely people a plot of land and fellow gardeners to socialize with while growing healthy food and beautiful flowers.- A lonely college student who started up conversation groups called Space Gatherings, where no cell phones were allowed and honest conversation was encouraged.- A delicatessen called Zingerman's that purposely created an employee oriented workplace where communication is key. Together looks in depth into schools, the workplace, and families to examine why these structures that should offer connection often make things worse. Co-workers and classmates used to be the main source of connection for many, and now they are seen as potential threats to be neutralized. The book looks at political polarization, where the different camps ascribe evil motives to their opposition, and not just good-faith disagreements. This is the third book I've read and reviewed on the loneliness epidemic this year and it's clear that there are very real repercussions for not taking it seriously. Loneliness and lack of meaningful connections cause serious health and mental health problems, but few political or thought leaders seem to want to address it. The Covid epidemic has made the problem even worse by shutting down so many venues where people were able to gather, and making us afraid of even being in the same room with each other. It will take a concerted effort to counter this disconnection, and the stories from Together provide some welcome examples. Murthy closes the book with this letter from a parent to a child. "The greatest gifts you'll ever receive will come through relationships. The most meaningful connections may last for a few moments or for a lifetime, but each will be a reminder that we were meant to be a part of one another's lives, to lit one and another up, to reach heights together greater than any of us could reach on our own. "Our hope is that you will always have friends in your lives who love and remind you of your innate beauty, strength, and compassion. Equally as important, we hope you will do the same for others. "You are precious precisely because you have the ability to give and receive love. That is your magic. And it is our mission as parents to make sure you know that no one can ever take that away from you." To combat the pain of rejection, we need to fool our brains into getting back out into the world again. We need to find causes to work with others on, so that the focus isn't totally on us, but instead on the shared project. It's in those micro-moments, working on shared causes, we can get to know people with their guard let down, and make some real connections. We can't just go out on Facebook and ask everybody to be our friend. We need to create intentional events and projects that allow connections to return organically, so that we can all thrive and feel loved and appreciated again.


September 13, 2020

Informative read about the importance of social connection. Interesting anecdotes and lessons to be had, but the structure of the book could use some tightening up. Although the content began to drag at the end, it's an inspiring read overall and a reminder to practice empathy as often as possible. Some parts of the book felt very personalized as the author went to my high school in Miami and the bullying he experienced as a young Asian child hit close to home. The story about the 5'6 Chinese American Penn student's struggle to find authentic connection or non-shallow conversations in a coldly hierarchical, hyper-competitive school also had me chuckling at the accuracy. But I digress..


May 07, 2020

What a timely book for quarantine! Definitely worth reading now, more than ever.


January 26, 2023

tldr: being lonely is worse than smoking cigs for long term health


May 05, 2020

There are many things we use all the time without really paying attention to them. That’s normal and even helpful a lot of the time; life would slow down impossibly if we couldn’t move relatively seamlessly through certain tasks or activities. And yet it can be refreshing to stop a while and see something familiar in new light, to reflect on what we take for granted or what we assume must always be done a certain way because we’ve simply never wondered if there’s a different way to do things.During the Covid-19 lockdown many of us have had the opportunity to think again what it means to be together, what it means to be lonely, and what we can do whilst we're alone (or living on top of one another?) to keep our sanity as we go through this period in history at the same time but apart.Together by Vivek Murthy was conceived a long time before any of us had heard the word coronavirus, in a time when lockdown was a word normally associated with prisons rather than everyday, all day life for millions across the world. And yet, with his generous, engaging exploration of “Loneliness, health and what happens when we find connection” Murthy (Surgeon General of the United States under Obama) offers an pertinent, inspiring if also, at times, worrying read.Insights from scientists about the causes of loneliness and how it physically and mentally impacts us form the first half of this book. Stories from people engaged in creative, thoughtful and kind ways to bring people together to reduce loneliness fill the remainder of the book, and whilst this is no self-help-how-to guide, so many different ideas are presented, so many different but effective ways of making a difference are shared, it’s an essential read for anyone who wants to make a difference, especially those who programme events and activities, whether in work, in clubs and community groups, or even at home.Whether it is GPs making the most of social prescribing i.e. recommending "resources and activities in the community that can help patients forge health social connections”, the US mayor who decided to turn his city into a City of Kindness, the neighbour who started street potluck meals, the university student who created Space Gatherings where fellow students could leave social expectations about student life at the door, the (now) worldwide Men's Shed movement, telephone helplines like Silver Line, or school projects which encourage anonymous acts of generosity, Together is packed with a rich buffet of examples that can inspire and give hope.An exhilarating germane read. A must for anyone who wants to make a difference, especially as we move forward to life beyond lockdown, where - surely - the only way to rebuild will be together.[Reviewed by Zoe for FOLIO]


September 25, 2022

Together is actually a book about loneliness. The author, Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General of USA stumbled upon this social condition while doing his recce when he took over this role. And realising how widespread it was, as much or even more prevalent than say opioid addition, alcoholism or obesity, he goes on to make it a key focus of his work in the government.The book is nicely split into two parts. In the first part, Murthy explains some of the common factors that result in loneliness. At the highest level, one can say that loneliness arises from any sudden change in one’s physical or emotional situation. It could be something as routine as graduating from junior to middle school or moving to a new city for college or migrating to a new country for a job. It could be the loss of a dear one or an estranged relationship. When our mind perceives some form of danger, it immediately goes on red alert and person’s sympathetic nervous system goes on high alert. This leads to release of certain hormones which when allowed to sustain in the body for long, leads to long term destruction in the form of increased cardiovascular stress and inflammation in the body. This is not even considering the mental health issues that come with loneliness. What makes it worse that it becomes a sort of vicious cycle often with deadly and devastating consequences going forward. In the second part, Murthy talks about the power of connectedness and its implications for mental and physical health, longevity, etc. He also talks about various initiatives being undertaken to help people get over loneliness in schools, colleges, workplaces and in life in general. He has helpful tips which can be implemented by each of us in our everyday life, either to address our own loneliness or help others deal with the same.Many of the ideas contained in the book are not necessarily new news. However, the reference to various real life examples do force us to introspect. And alas, upon reflection, one is able to link these many of these incidents back to some facet of our own lives. No matter how connected one is, one will still find episodes that speak to us. Finally, Murthy does offer enough tips and tricks that we can apply in our everyday life either to help us through our phases of loneliness or those of people around us.

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