A Pair of Good Books

Hi Reading Friends– I pretty much like happy books– Ones that you know from the start will end well. But here are a pair of books that don’t fall into that camp.  The first is a riveting discussion of making the most of the end of life time, beyond medical solutions.  And the second is a dark and dramatic story filled with engaging characters and moral choices to be made.  Two truly worthwhile (if not thoroughly happy) books…

Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and professor at Harvard, guides us through a series of real stories of people at the end of life and the choices they make.  The book is studded with research studies and reports of people who make the difference for aging patients.  The good news is that while it plumbs the deep questions of aging, it is imminently readable for everyone.  Early on, he describes his grandfather, who lived to well beyond 100 years, at home surveying his farm and supported by his large extended family.  And then there are stories of people at the end of life with fewer options and big choices to make about how to manage medical and living concerns in a way that offer the best quality of life.  Gawande complies lists of important questions we should be asking ourselves and offers options beyond the obvious.  For such a forbidding topic, it was a real page turner— I couldn’t put it down.  There is so much here that is truly helpful for a rich and fulfilling way to live when we come to difficult times at the end of a life.

Beartown — by Fredrik Backman (author of A Man Called Ove)
Set in a small Swedish town, where hockey is everything, this is the story of a fading town that imagines coming back to it’s own when their junior hockey team is headed for the national finals.  The strength of the complicated story lies in the well drawn characters– coaches, teenage players, families, prominent towns people and those that live down in the Hollow.  All of the them are drawn into the drama of the ensuing games.  So when a tragic incident involving the star of the team occurs, everything is thrown aside and lines are drawn.  It’s a dark story at times (not my normal genre), but there are themes of loyalty, hopes, parenting and integrity.  It is daunting and heartwarming all at once.  It’s one of those books, you want to sit and read start to finish in one sitting– you’ll be anxious to to see how it all ends…

P.S. Painting of woman reading by Daren Thompson

36 thoughts on “A Pair of Good Books

  1. So glad you reviewed Being Mortal! I have been telling everyone that this is a must read! Will look forward to reading Beartown. Thanks for keeping the book recs coming!!!

    • Hi Christine!! Agree. So helpful. It is making me think through all the questions I need to ask myself and by doctor as time goes on… We’re doing Beartown for March Lit Group– we would love you to come!!! What else are you reading right now?? hugs friend!

  2. Great to hear your thoughts on both of these very popular books. I wasn’t planning to read Bear Town (even though it’s one of our library director’s favorites) but I did read two others by Backman and I especially enjoyed A Man Called Ove. I’m going to add Being Mortal to my reading pile. I think I would savor it in the same way I loved Final Exam by Pauline Chen (a friend from one of my previous writing groups!). xo

    • Hey Marica– jotting down Final Exam on my book search list! And I agree A Man Called Ove is his best book. I heard they’re making an American version of the movie with Tom Hanks! Beartown was a lot darker and I don’t know much about hockey– but it was so character driven, that I got hooked on seeing what happened to the people who filled the book! I started reading it a while back but didn’t get far, but now it’s the March book for our Lit Group, so it motivated me to stick with it ad in the end I really enjoyed it! And– I’m looking up some of your award books at the library to read as well. thanks Marcia!! xox

      • Right now I’m reading an easy mystery–John Grisham’s Camino Island. I need something for relaxing at night before going to sleep or on my breaks at work 🙂 I’ve also heard a lot of library customers reading Rooster Bar which is also Grisham.

        • Fun! I haven’t read a Grisham book in a while. It does sound like a book I’d like to kick back with. Does your library have book recommendation lists? And how is your running going? Still in the snow?? We’re visiting our kids in Wisconsin and it was sunny and 54 degrees today!! OK, missing your thoughtful posts– know your life must be full Debra. hugs hugs!

          • Running is going great now… we’ve had a good few days of weather, and I’m preparing for a 10 km race at end of April. (longest I’ve done is 5 km). Glad you are with your kids. I promise to write a blog post this week (I really hope!) Thanks for wanting to read them… it means a lot.

    • Hi LIsa– so glad. I want to go back on Being Mortal and pull out things I want to remember/use as we get older– and to help our parents (86, 88 and 90 years old). What have you been reading?… hugs!

    • Hey Jenni– it would bring out a great long discussion!! We’d probably decided to start up our home for little old ladies when we all hit 90 and sit and read together every afternoon! I’ve heard Katie Bowler interviewed on Teri Gross and read a couple reviews of that book. Didn’t you read it?? I’m really curious about her faith and how she went from there. What did you think?? Another good Lit Group book? xox

  3. I have heard really great things about BearTown, but it’s the first time I have actually read what it is about. Thanks for the recommendation. I will put it on my growing list.

    • Hey Kat– didn’t see the movie– but would love to! This book is different than Ove– not so charming or quirky. But still a great depth in the lives/choices of the characters. I didn’t want to stop reading until I found out how it all worked out. hugs hugs!

  4. Pingback: Recent Reading | The Thankful Heart

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