Atul Gawande: The Thoughtful Doctor

Atul Gawande has been many things: Rhodes scholar, husband, father, journalist, surgeon, political advisor, and author. His writings show that he is as thoughtful as he is meticulous.

After graduating from Stanford, Gawande studied philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford for one year as a Rhodes scholar. He then began medical school at Harvard, but took a brief detour to advise President Bill Clinton during his 1992 campaign. After finishing medical school, he wrote for Slate and The New Yorker during his residency.

Gawande brings his years of experience to each of his books. His writing breaks down complex issues in a way that is easy to digest without dumbing them down or glossing over certain facts or realities.

Whether you are an insider in the medical community or an outsider looking in, you will leave Atul Gawande’s books having learned something, having been inspired, and having had a lot to think over.

The-Checklist-Manifesto

Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

Drawing from his years of medical experience, Gawande makes the case for checklists, and the order they create out of chaos, in Checklist Manifesto. Though he primarily discusses their use in medical settings, anyone who needs a little more organization in their lives can benefit from this one.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Our September Book of the Month and Gawande’s most important book to date. Being Mortal examines the ways in which modern medicine can help or hinder us at the end of our lives. Beautifully written with both compassion and logic, this is a must.

Better

Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance

With the precision of a surgeon wielding a scalpel, Gawande’s essays in Better take readings around the world in bizarre and day-to-day situations that surgeons must face. Stumbling over obstacles both ethical and practical, these surgeons must make decisions that will save lives.

Complications

Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science

Complications collects Gawande’s New Yorker articles written during his residency. Carefully crafted, these essays critically examine the pressures and expertise required in the field of medicine, and in particular, surgery.


Being Mortal is our September Book of the Month!

Book of the Month: Being Mortal

When we pick our Book of the Month, we don’t just pick a book. We pick a topic, a world, an idea. These have so far been far-ranging matters, from hypothetical science to the Italian coast, busking in Boston to satire in Seattle.

This month’s topic might be the most important we’ve chosen yet: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.

Because let’s face it: not only are we all going to die someday, but we’re all going to experience the loss of our loved ones, if we haven’t already.

In Being Mortal, doctor and writer Atul Gawande discusses end-of-life care. He takes us through the history of gerontology, assisted living, and provides countless sets of data and anecdotes. Through it all, Gawande says that the medical community as well as patients’ families treat patients as subjects rather than as human beings. It’s rare that we consult the patient on what they really want. But Gawande says that we need to ask people what is important to them, what parts of their lifestyles are they determined to keep.

He gives insight into what the end of life means for different people, and arms listeners with questions to ask, decisions to make, and conversations to start.

But he doesn’t give clear answers. It’s different for everyone. Each individual case is just that—individual. While listening, I couldn’t help but think of my two grandfathers. One, an Indiana farmboy lived a healthy lifestyle but suffered the last years of his life. The other, a white-collar worker with a little too much interest in fun, faced complications at the age of 90, and died relatively peacefully a few months later. I don’t think it gets much more individual than that.

Like me, everyone will bring their own experiences, their own family histories to this book, homing in on the things that we’ve faced in our own lives.

It’s not always comfortable to think about these things. Nobody wants to say to their aging grandmother, “So, you probably have, what? Five good years left? What do you want that to look like?” This book prompts us to ask those questions (though hopefully a little more tactfully).

As for me, I’ve talked to my wife, Dianne, and told her that I believe in quality over quantity of life. I don’t think it’s doing justice to a person to prolong their life if it makes them miserable. But again, it’s individual.

One thing’s for sure. This book is as thought provoking as it is necessary.


Being Mortal is our September Book of the Month. Get it now for $17.95.

Indie Picks: September 2015

The IndieNext bestseller list is one of the best places to find out what’s hot at independent bookstores around the United States. Based on reporting from hundreds of independent bookstores, here’s a sampling of some of the best nonfiction books right now.

Take a look, and remember to #ChooseIndie.


Being Mortal

Being Mortal

by Atul Gawande

H-is-for-Hawk

H Is for Hawk

by Helen Macdonald

I-Am-Malala

I Am Malala

by Malala Yousafzai

Think-Like-a-Freak

Think Like a Freak

by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

David-and-Goliath

David and Goliath

by Malcolm Gladwell

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