Staff Picks Category: Aging

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande [, , ]

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As the title implies, this book is for everyone, everyone who is mortal. With the subject matter, one might expect a very depressing tome. Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and a staff writer for the New Yorker, is an amazing story-teller. In the end, there is hope for making the world, and the end of life, better. He frankly addresses the failings of a medical system that tries to fix everything, when that might not be the right choice. He takes us through the very personal lives, and deaths, of many people, including the very personal story of his own father, as well as sharing his research into how we got where we are. Yes, it is good to live in a world that no longer has poor houses, but in some cases, we haven’t done much better.

Reading this book will hopefully encourage you to start the difficult but important conversations with your relatives and loved ones. Do you want to spend the end of your life living with parakeets? Will you be happy if you can eat chocolate ice cream and watch football?

[This was also very good on audio, but might make you cry a little while you are driving…]

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Deaf Sentence by David Lodge []

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British novel about a hearing impaired retired professor of linguistics. Well written, interestingly plotted, with a sort BBC/Masterpiece Theater feel to it. It is very much a character driven story that explores the former professor’s challenges with retirement, his increasing deafness, and his family concerns. The professor explores various literature about and by the deaf and attends lip reading classes where he learns all sorts of interesting trivia. The story is spiced up by his involvement with a possibly psychotic American grad student writing her doctoral thesis on the linguistics of suicide notes.

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