Book Review: Gratitude

It’s a sliver of a book, but somehow, I saw the spine on the shelf at the public library. It was surrounded by many other, much larger, books, almost crowded out. I was just wandering. Not looking for anything specific. It was the word “Gratitude” that caught my attention. I pulled the thin tome out to investigate and I saw the writer was Oliver Sacks, which of course got me even more interested. I added the book to my pile.

Gratitude is a collection of just four essays that Sacks, the eminent poet-scientist whose stories of patients reminded us of the wide breadth of the world itself, wrote in the last year of his life as he was dying of cancer at age 80. The essays, each of which which first appeared in the New York Times, are reflective pieces on what a long life lived might mean for someone with the ability to ponder back, brought to the surface by Sack’s powerful and emotional writing. The essay connecting Sack’s life to the Periodic Table, and how he tracked his years with elements from the scientific organization chart, was perfectly written, I think.

I read the essays while waiting in a doctor’s office, it turns out. The room was quiet and comfortable. I was completely immersed in Sack’s voice as a writer and as a curious traveler of the world of medicine and humanity and stories.

I am grateful to have found Gratitude, and I appreciate this final gift that Sacks left us.

Peace (in the reflect),

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