Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The beginning, the middle and the end ... three wonderful books I've read lately

I always have several books in progress on my Kindle. Usually at least one non-fiction, one general or historical fiction, and maybe one biography or mystery fiction. It means that, whatever mood I'm in, there's always something interesting to read at hand.

Just lately I've finished three non-fiction books that triggered deep introspection and gratitude. Each had relevance to a particular time of life (or at least, to a particular time of my life).

The beginning ...

Alfred Lubrano's Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams discusses the challenges of growing up in a working-class, uneducated family, and moving (via education) into a middle-class, white-collar adulthood. As the blurb says 'torn between the world they were raised in and the life they aspire to, they hover between worlds, not quite accepted in either'. I grew up in a family where education was frowned upon and I made my escape as soon as possible. Although these days I live a white-collar life among middle-class friends and colleagues there are still moments when I feel like a fish out of water. Limbo reminded me be proud of what I've achieved in life. The book moved me so much that I emailed the author to thank him; he sent a very gracious reply!

... the middle ...

Stuffocation: Living More with Less, by James Wallman, is another thought-provoking read. The book discusses materialism and clutter, arguing that by transforming what we value (focusing less on possessions and more on experiences) we will be happier and healthier. Having recently moved house and thus been forced to get up close and personal with all my possessions I've realised that while I'm not a hoarder I do have more than enough stuff and really should use what I have rather than buying anything new.

... and the end

Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine, and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande, is a book about death. It is an absolutely wonderful read: compassionate, powerful, moving, and beautifully woven. I enjoyed the book so much I didn't want it to end ... and have now sought out other books by Dr Gawande. As one of the reviewers said '[the book is] not just about dying and the limits of medicine but about living to the last with autonomy, dignity, and joy'. Indeed! Don't miss it.

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