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Guest Post & Giveaway: Being Mortal by Gawande


Welcome to our first guest review & Giveaway (scroll to the bottom for details on giveaway)! Periodically, we will feature guest reviews and we will try to pick reviews for books and genres we don’t typically feature on our blog. For these posts, we will be picking books that our guest contributors have rated as among their favorites. We hope you that you enjoy these reviews and they lead you to pick up something new that you could also love.

Starting us off with a non-fiction pick is Anita. I’ll hand it over to Anita, who will introduce herself and will provide her review of Being Mortal by Gawande.

anitiaAnita: I’d like to say reading is my passion, but if I were to be totally honest, I think interacting with other readers is as wonderful as reading the books themselves. To that end, seven years ago, I founded Play Book Tag.  PBT is a group on where talking about books goes on 24×7!  My favorite books are most definitely literary fiction, but I punctuate that with quite a bit of non-fiction where my taste runs to tales of outdoor adventure. I’m the proud mom of two sons, one in college and one almost in college, and a cockapoo, Teddy. In real life, I have two part time jobs, and do lots of philanthropic work as part of the Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle, an organization with which I’m really proud to be affiliated.

being mortal

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
Published in: 2014
Reviewed by: Anita
Rating: 5 stars + a favorite
Find it here:Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Anita’s Review:

Everyone who is going to die someday should read this book.

Dr. Gawande has written an excellent book that both informs (which I expected) and moves (didn’t expect this) the reader.

By explaining how the current medical system understands and handles death and weaving in anecdotes of real people facing their mortality, he writes a book that is very engaging, but also very important. No one really likes to think about the end, but eventually such thinking is forced upon you – – whether you are facing the demise of a parent or a scary diagnosis. My impression is that this book would be best read before encountering the worst, as it provides both solace and pragmatic advice.

Gawande asks his readers, “ . . .what if the sick and aged are already being sacrified – victims of our refusal to accept the inexorability of our life cycle? What if there are better approaches, right in front of our eyes, waiting to be recognized?”

There is no challenge of aging that Gawande doesn’t touch upon with care and sensitivity. The difficulty of leaving one’s home to live in institutional care. What makes life worth living? Dying with dignity and with less suffering.   Reading about such subjects could be boring and/or completely depressing, but this book is none of those. It increased my empathy tenfold. It’s not a mere self-help book where you are advised on options available to you. It’s a book that moves you to look at death in another way. A way that’s more accepting. And a way that the medical professions whole raison d’etre strives against with all its might.

People with serious illness have priorities besides simply prolonging their lives. Surveys find that their top concerns include avoiding suffering, strengthening relationships with family and friends, being mentally aware, not being a burden on others, and achieving a sense that their life is complete. Our system of technological medical care has utterly failed to meet these needs . . .

Medicine, in its efforts to prolong life, ignores the real need of people to die on their own terms. This book takes a first important step toward empowering people at the end of life by shining a light on what actually happens versus what could happen.

We are all going to die, and death is just flat out scary. Like every other rite of passage, it deserves to be considered. It deserves to be discussed. This book is the conversation starter that might just help the end be a little less frightening, a lot less painful, and way more peaceful.

Talk about a book that should be on 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die. This might be just the one book that you really, really should.

You can also watch a t.v. special based on this book at PBS here: Being Mortal

Want a chance to win a kindle copy of this book? One lucky, randomly selected reader will win a copy of this book. To enter simply comment on this post to let us know you want to enter the raffle. The winner will be selected on May 13 @noon EST and will be announced at the bottom of this page.

Want to try this book for yourself? Find it here:Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

UPDATE:  The winner of the free copy is Tessa! Congrats. We host lots of giveaways so stay tuned for more prizes and giveaways in future posts.