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Review: Being Mortal

February 23, 2016

Being Mortal

I’m sure most people have heard of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande.  It’s a nonfiction exploration of medicine and mortality.  Yes, we’ve managed to prolong lives, but at what cost?  Dr. Gawande is a practicing surgeon who writes with heart and compassion and this book is outstanding.

I read Being Mortal last month and marked many passages and talked about it constantly while I was reading it.  I discovered that talking about death and dying made people uncomfortable even as I realized it’s a topic that needs to be discussed more openly.  Reading this book also made me realize we’ve come to expect too much from medicine and there are times when it might be wiser to forgo treatment.

Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about some part of this book.  I’ve stared at a time or two and wondered how I could possibly do it justice and have come to accept I can’t.  That’s okay, though, because I can tell you that this is one of the most useful, thought provoking books I’ve ever read.  It’s a book every adult needs to read.  I’ve become very picky about the books I keep these days and will be adding Being Mortal to my permanent shelves.  If you haven’t read this book yet, I urge you to do so.

Review copy provided by Henry Holt.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
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29 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2016 7:06 am

    Thanks for your great review Kathy. I’ve read many positive ones about this book. I’ve been putting off reading this, thinking it is a sad topic, but really think now I need to put it at the top of my list. I was wondering if I should buy it or borrow it from the library. After reading your review, I think I will buy it.

  2. Diane permalink
    February 23, 2016 7:12 am

    I loved this as well, should be required reading. Now you must read When Breath Becomes Air.

  3. February 23, 2016 8:02 am

    I have recommended this book to others and yet I haven’t read it myself. I will, I know. Just don’t know when. Maybe I’ll buy it for my mom (we were just talking about this topic, and I mentioned this book) so that she and I both can read the same copy.

  4. February 23, 2016 8:03 am

    I have heard good things about this book. I will have to read it at some point!

  5. February 23, 2016 8:22 am

    It’s on my list after high recs from a couple of trusted friends. Glad to hear its a keeper.

  6. February 23, 2016 8:27 am

    I loved this book and convinced my book club to read it… one of the best discussions ever! Great review, Kathy.

  7. February 23, 2016 8:42 am

    Having worked with seniors I know that talking about death and dying IS important. Actually it’s important even for children. You really sparked my curiosity about this book, Kathy and I’m thinking of buying it.

  8. February 23, 2016 9:02 am

    I’ll chime in here and say ‘please read this book’. It’s a great, thought-provoking book. Maybe not nearly as sad as some think it will be. I’d love to be in a discussion of it with others. I need to suggest it to the book group that I’ve rejoined.

  9. February 23, 2016 9:10 am

    Wow, lots of endorsements here!

  10. February 23, 2016 9:30 am

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Kathy. It had so much impact on me that I had a recent meeting with my 3 adult children to talk about my end-of-life wishes. I’m not too old yet (66), but this book got me motivated to take a look at everything my kids need to know. In fact, it’s the only book I’ve ever reviewed (in 5 years of blogging) where I wrote my blog post when I was only half-way through the book! (I wrote a 2nd review when I finished.) It’s a must read for most everybody. But especially for baby boomers or those with elderly parents.

  11. February 23, 2016 11:55 am

    Wow! Look at all those comments that agree with you on how this is a must read. I’m adding it to my list.

  12. February 23, 2016 1:19 pm

    This one does sound like a must-read…and yes, the topic makes people uncomfortable, just like the conversations I sometimes have with my grown kids about where they can find my important documents, etc. They get all squeamish. But I am trying to desensitize them, while conveying information.

    Adding this one to my list…thanks for sharing.

  13. February 23, 2016 1:33 pm

    I agree, talking about death is very uncomfortable to talk about. I think we need more books like this. While medicine has saved and prolonged lives, there are times when medicine is not enough.

  14. Literary Feline permalink
    February 23, 2016 1:42 pm

    The more I hear about this one, the more I want to read it.

  15. Patty permalink
    February 23, 2016 2:13 pm

    Yes…a sensitive book about important things…I need to read it.

  16. February 23, 2016 5:29 pm

    Kathy, your strong recommendation is all I need! I will be getting this book. 🙂

  17. February 23, 2016 5:33 pm

    I’ve read articles by the author, and really, really need to get to Being Mortal soon. I gave it to my father for Christmas but I think my sister-in-law borrowed it from him before I could!

  18. February 23, 2016 8:47 pm

    I agree with you 100%, Kathy. This book had such an impact on me and it helped me make a major life decision. After my husband retires in 2017, we plan to move to Oregon and live with my mom so that she never has to worry about moving into a nursing home. Yes, everyone needs to read this powerful book!

  19. February 23, 2016 10:08 pm

    Okay. I need to read this soon!

  20. February 24, 2016 8:15 am

    Death and dying are so much part of Buddhism that we hear it all the time. The circle of life is inevitable and the only thing one is a hundred percent certain of. Death is definitely not a hidden facet in Eastern lives and I think its a good thing too.
    This sounds like a good book.

  21. February 24, 2016 12:23 pm

    I’ve taken your recommendation to heart. I have the book coming from the library, but then I’ll decide whether I need my own copy.

  22. February 24, 2016 2:07 pm

    What a great book to start a discussion with whom ever you need to have one.

  23. bookingmama permalink
    February 25, 2016 7:56 am

    My husband swears by this book. I remember hearing the publicist speak about this one at BEA and she was passionate that it’s a book that everyone should read.

  24. February 25, 2016 5:18 pm

    I so agree with you, everyone should read this book. My husband had his entire management team read it.

  25. February 26, 2016 10:59 pm

    I know I need to read this one, but I just can’t right now. But one day, I know, I must.

  26. February 27, 2016 12:40 am

    Adding this one to my reading list. Sounds like a must-read.

  27. February 27, 2016 10:39 am

    I will have to pick this one soon. I am currently reading Emperor of All Maladies so it may be a while but can’t wait to pick it.

  28. February 27, 2016 7:48 pm

    This was recommended to me by my sister. In the last 4 years we have seen our mother in the end of her life and my husbands mother more recently. I will be reading this one this year.

  29. February 29, 2016 7:50 pm

    I must live under a rock because I hadn’t heard of this until it was mentioned by many during BBAW. It’s now on my higher priority reading list.

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