Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

being mortalBeing Mortal by Atul Gawande

Henry Holt, October 2014

Disclosure: I received a review copy via LibraryThing Early Readers.

I really wanted to read Being Mortal after reading an excerpt several months ago in The New Yorker. The chapter is called “Letting Go,” and the piece followed a young mother diagnosed with cancer making end-of-life care decisions. The book as a whole is a combination of policy discussion and narratives, and overall it’s very affecting stuff.

Gawande starts the book with some history of medicine and elder care options (he’s part sociologist, part gerontologist, part surgeon, part son throughout the book). As a book about things that people find difficult to talk about, this book is invaluable. As a manifesto about reforming nursing homes and assisted living centers, it’s very effective.

As tough as the subject of this book is, it was a very good: the writing is not dry. And because he uses stories about his own family members as well as some stories of his patients, Gawande is constantly providing context to his points about how to lead a meaningful life while you are dying.

Highly recommended.


5 thoughts on “Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

  1. This sounds like something I should read, although I don’t think it would be an enjoyable read. The problem is, when you are close enough to really need the information, I am sure it is a more wrenching read. Very interesting post.

  2. It is a tough read, and you definitely have to be prepared to read it, I think. I will say that I learned a lot about non-traditional nursing home settings that sounded so much better than typical ones, and that was an easier section to read.

  3. I saw the author on TV, and he was quite good. The health care and nursing home situation
    here is not so good for the elderly and very sick. Profits is a big reason. And conflicts over
    who has what rights is another. People’s rights, patients and families, are often ignored.

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