Sunday, May 15, 2016

Title: My Father's House
Author: Rose Chandler Johnson
Genre: Christian fiction, inspirational, Southern fiction, Georgia author, takes place in Georgia, women's fiction

Lily Rose Cates had a mostly idyllic, small-town childhood: an older brother who was a ready playmate and with whom she was extremely close to, a loving and protective father, and a mother who suffered from unrelenting grief and depression. Lily's father unexpectedly passes away leaving Lily to emotionally flounder throughout the rest of high school and into college. Unfortunately Lily's sweet nature and sheltered childhood do not prepare her for the harsh realities of the world. She falls head over heels with the first man (Manny) who showers her with charm, attention and romance. Despite warnings from Annie Ruth, the caregiver for Lily's mother and the adopted family matriarch, Lily marries him and eventually regrets it. After suffering Manny's abuse for 2 1/2 years, Lily (with the help of a friend) escapes from Manny, and returns to Georgia, to the house she inherited from her father. With the help of her friends, neighbors, her writing, her faith, and a handsome veterinarian, Lily rebuilds her life. A nice clean read that was a nice, relaxing change of pace after a busy semester. Non-religious readers will be able to enjoy this book as well since it is not too preachy or too sappy.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Title: Being Mortal
Author: Atul Gawande
Genre: non-fiction, medical history, end-of-life issues

I read this book after my boss called it "the best book I've ever read." How can a book blogger pass on a recommendation like that?

In the recent past extended families took care of each other, yet in this same era people tended to die quickly and unexpectedly and had shorter lifespans. Nowadays people can languish in pain for years from the effects of multiple chronic diseases, medications, and medical interventions. When medical knowledge increased, our lifespans increased, as well, but not necessarily our quality of life in later years or when suffering with a terminal illness. While family members could take care of each other in the past, the increased lifespan and effects of multiple diseases means that family members do not have the time, skill, or appropriate knowledge to take care of their loved ones. Dr. Gawande investigated the history of nursing homes and assisted living institutions for this book. The priority of nursing homes is safety of the residents and efficiency for the staff. Personalized quality of care of the residents is never discussed which is why so many of the elderly waste away. Dr. Gawande also toured and interviewed hospice care which provides comfort on the terms of the ill instead of high-tech medical procedures. Hospice allows the terminally patient to prioritize what matters most to them in the end and helps the patient reach those priorities.

This was definitely the best non-fiction book I have read this year. Dr. Gawande writes in a personable and non-intimidating style about a subject that most of us are uncomfortable discussing. Dr. Gawande was also uncomfortable discussing end of life issues with his own parents and all three of them are doctors! Keep the tissues handy- you will need them!