How should you face death?
It’s a question many of us try to avoid, but Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande, acknowledges this very topic in great depth. This book skillfully explores the intricacies of medicine, aging, and death in a very personal way that feels like Gawande is right next to you, telling his encounters and experiences. It’s filled with touching anecdotes of many different situations ranging from the happiness and success of living well to the despair and inevitability of death. Mixed with all of these emotions, there is a learning aspect in this book. Gawande, a practicing surgeon, teaches how the advances in medicine have improved the quality and longevity of life.
By blending all of these elements into a harmonious narrative, Gawande raised questions regarding what it takes and what it means to have a quality life: To what extent are we fortunate to be alive with new and improving medicine and healthcare? To what extent are we willing to sacrifice our last years of life to be glued to a hospital bed, hoping for a cure? To what extent are we going to keep pushing for more drugs, more surgery, more care until we finally have to accept the inevitability of letting go?
This is by no means a light hearted book. It requires a curious and open mind that can handle stories about the ups and downs of aging. And may I add, there are plenty more of the downs than the ups.
So this book may not sound appealing to you in the slightest, but perhaps you should give it a shot. You may find a new interest such as I. Considering that I’m new to reading this genre of scientific nonfiction, I was surprised at how much I loved reading this book! It truly was a fantastically written book that has inspired me to learn more about the field of geriatrics. I highly recommend this read to anyone that is interested in exploring a possible healthcare field or likes to learn new things about life and death.
Lastly, let me leave you with a major life spoiler: death is inevitable, so how should you face it?
Book Review by Jessica Koh