Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, The New York Times Book Review, NPR, and Chicago Tribune, now in paperback with a new reading group guideMedicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming the dangers of childbirth, injury, and disease from harrowing to manageable. But when it comes to the inescapable realities of aging and death, what medicine can do often runs counter to what it should. Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Gawande reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced. Nursing homes, devoted above all to safety, battle with residents over the food they are allowed to eat and the choices they are allowed to make. Doctors, uncomfortable discussing patients' anxieties about death, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them. In his bestselling books, Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon, has fearlessly revealed the struggles of his profession. Here he examines its ultimate limitations and failures--in his own practices as well as others'--as life draws to a close. Riveting, honest, and humane, Being Mortal shows how the ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life--all the way to the very end.
- ISBN-13: 9781250076229
- ISBN-10: 1250076226
- Publisher: Picador USA
- Publish Date: September 2017
- Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.6 pounds
- Page Count: 304
Book clubs: Through the years
Peter Ho Davies’ acclaimed second novel, The Fortunes, is an interconnected quartet of stories exploring the lives of Chinese people in America. Ah Ling arrives in California from China in the mid-1800s. When he becomes valet to railroad magnate Charles Crocker, Ling inspires a surge in the hiring of Chinese workers. During the 1930s, Chinese actress Anna May Wong fights stereotypes in Hollywood and struggles to make a name for herself. In 1982 Detroit, Vincent Chin meets a tragic end, becoming an inspirational figure for the Asian-American community. The book’s fourth main character, John Ling Smith, a writer who is half Chinese, travels with his wife to modern-day China to adopt a baby—a journey that provides closure for the novel. Davies writes convincingly from these varied perspectives, delivering a beautifully wrought account of Chinese and Chinese-American culture. The novel is at once a compelling read and a timely chronicle of the immigrant experience.
In his compassionate nonfiction book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, surgeon and celebrated author Atul Gawande explores aging, death and the ways in which Americans deal with both. Gawande weaves anecdotes from his work with dying patients and stories of his family members into a compelling study of the medical industry’s handling of end-of-life issues. Through interviews with healthcare professionals, he examines the weaknesses in the American healthcare system when it comes to providing for the aging and the terminally ill. He also notes improvements in the ways doctors communicate with patients who must make tough choices about treatments and care facilities. Gawande writes about sensitive topics in a manner that’s probing yet sympathetic. As usual, his delivery is lucid and his prose elegant. He has created a discerning, well-rounded survey of an all-too-relevant topic. This important book is a must-read, given today’s healthcare climate.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
Eowyn Ivey’s masterfully crafted second novel, To the Bright Edge of the World, is told largely through a pair of interwoven journals. The diary of Colonel Allen Forrester documents the 1885 expedition he leads to Alaska’s Wolverine River. The other journal is written by Allen’s wife, Sophie, who lives in Vancouver while he is gone. During their separation, each forms new ways of looking at the world. Sophie, who suffers a miscarriage, finds an outlet in photography. Allen, meanwhile, contends with the challenges of the expedition and finds a fresh—and magical—intensity in the experience of living. Both diaries make their way into contemporary times through Allen’s great-nephew Walt, who donates them to a museum, and the contrast between the past of the journals and the present day is decidedly poignant. Ivey’s assured novel brims with adventure, history and a little bit of surrealism, proving that she’s a writer to watch.
This article was originally published in the September 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.