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