Life Matters Media
Quality of life at the end of life

Our Reading Recommendations


Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast never expected her graphic memoir to become a literary sensation – or a source of much-needed comfort to caregivers.

Chast discussed Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? – which earned her a number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list – during a recent book signing at the Winnetka Community House. The 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award winner centers on the stresses and struggles that Chast encountered while caring for her stubborn and unintentionally comical aging parents, George and Elizabeth.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Throughout Being Mortal, Atul Gawande tackles the negative impacts of some relatively new life-prolonging treatments on the seriously ill.

“I never expected that among the most meaningful experiences I’d have as a doctor — and, really, as a human being — would come from helping others deal with what medicine cannot do as well as what it can,” he writes.

Unfortunately, many medical students avoid pursuing careers in geriatrics – care for the aged and ill – often due to the lower pay and the difficult, often emotional, nature of the work.

On Living by Kerry Egan

“It’s easier to sort of face the hard things in your life when you’re not alone,” hospice chaplain Kerry Egan told Fresh Air with Terry Gross. “That’s a big part of what a chaplain does, is she stays with you.”

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, Abraham Verghese

At 36, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated.

Driving Miss Norma by Tim Bauerschmidt, Ramie Liddle

When Miss Norma was diagnosed with uterine cancer, she was advised to undergo surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. But instead of confining herself to a hospital bed for what could be her last stay, Miss Norma—newly widowed after nearly seven decades of marriage—rose to her full height of five feet and told her doctor, “I’m ninety years old. I’m hitting the road.”

Extreme Measures by Jessica Zitter

Jessica Zitter calls herself an “accidental activist.”

After decades working in intensive care units, the California-based physician is now focusing on making end of life care better for her patients – and millions of others.

In today’s medical culture, the dying are often put on what Zitter calls the “End of Life Conveyor Belt.”

The Violet Hour by Katie Roiphe

Katie Roiphe takes an unexpected and liberating approach to the most unavoidable of subjects. She investigates the last days of six great thinkers, writers, and artists as they come to terms with the reality of approaching death, or what T. S. Eliot called “the evening hour that strives Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea.”

Taking Turns by MK Czerwiec

In 1994, at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, MK Czerwiec took her first nursing job, at Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, as part of the caregiving staff of HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371. Taking Turns pulls back the curtain on life in the ward.

Modern Death by Haider Warraich

Haider Warraich takes broad look at how we die today, from the cellular level up to the very definition of death itself. There is no more universal truth in life than death. No matter who you are, it is certain that one day you will die.

A Bittersweet Season by Jane Gross

Jane Gross writes about caring for her aging mother, and what she wishes she had known before she started. A Bittersweet Season is an essential guide to caring for aging parents.

Mom’s Cancer by Brian Fies

A powerful graphic novel depicting one woman’s struggle with lung cancer and its affect on her family.

The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End of Life Care by Angelo Volandes

Angelo Volandes offers a solution that is medicine’s oldest and least technological tool in the proverbial black bag: talking. If doctors explain options—including the choice to forgo countless medical interventions that are often of little benefit in patients with advanced illness—then patients can tell doctors how they wish to spend the remainder of their lives.