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Staff Pick of the Week: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

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This week’s Staff Pick is Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. While certainly not an easy read, it is more than worth your time. It asks unsettling questions about death and failing health, but it also helps the reader to consider essential questions about life. Additionally, it contains fascinating discussions about the shift in cultural attitudes towards death and dying, cultural differences in elder care, and the failures and successes of the medical profession throughout the years. Although Being Mortal is a wonderfully written book that I highly recommend, some of the stories it recounts are simply gutting emotionally. Before picking up a copy, be sure to prepare yourself for a tough read that you might have to occasionally put down.

“In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending. Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering. Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified. Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.” –From

The Franklin Township Library has Being Mortal available for checkout as a Book Club Kit. Click here fore more details!

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