This month I’ve read that:

Late Fragments: Everything I Want to Tell You (About This Magnificent Life)Late Fragments: Everything I Want to Tell You by Kate Gross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I only meant to start this book, but I finished it in one sitting. A really lively book, with much humour and insight into the life of a woman (younger than me) writing near the end of her time. Following hard on reading Rachael Bland’s book, there’s a challenge to live well, to enjoy the ordinary, but also that terminal cancer does not make one a brave, inspirational saint.

Extraordinary MeansExtraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this (YA) book – it could probably highlight earlier on (rather than in the notes at the end) that it’s dealing with a fictional disease – but I enjoyed it as a concept in a rather dystopian kind of way … and in dealing with cancer which can make you feel rather cut off from ‘normal life’ recognised some aspects of that. Kind of book I needed when my body wouldn’t go to sleep after an operation!

Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I've LovedEverything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a really resonant book for me to read at the moment, also preparing for Stage IV cancer treatment, and considering the impact on my life/faith, etc. Apparently I made 65 highlights on this book… and I think I’ve made them public… one of them was about friends coming round with armfuls of Kale (lol!)

Also useful more widely for tackling the prosperity gospel, and encouraging to see that overall identity not lost to cancer!

Dead to MeDead to Me by Lesley Pearse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always find Lesley P’s books very readable. They often deal with quite dark topics, this one majors on female friendships and recovering from a nightmare childhood, amongst which there are heartwarming moments, laughs, and questions of how do you move on from those difficult times.

The Choice: Embrace the PossibleThe Choice: Embrace the Possible by Edith Eger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read a number of books related to concentration camps recently, and visited both Auschwitz and Mauthausen, both mentioned in this book. This book was recommended in another book with enough power to seek this one out – including the hook that as a ballet dancer, she was forced to dance for Mengele (and held her mother’s words that others can take everything but your mind from you).

One of the powerful things about this book is that Eger, as she weaves in her own experiences with those of her clients when she trained as a psychologist after the war, is that whilst she talks about becoming a thriver, rather than just a survivor, she doesn’t pretend that this is easy, or that this will happen overnight, or that you’ll no longer be affected by the trauma.

Eger also talks powerfully about there being no hierarchy of suffering – comparison may lead to us minimising/discounting our own suffering – but rather than saying that our suffering is less significant than someone else’s, we should think ‘If she can do it, then so can I’. Even those who moan about the smaller things in life (e.g. wrong colour car) are really thinking of something bigger that they are unable to express.

Your Life In My Hands - a Junior Doctor's StoryYour Life In My Hands – a Junior Doctor’s Story by Rachel Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As someone who is heavily reliant upon the NHS for cancer treatment, Clarke gives an excellent insight into the turmoil in the NHS… something I’ve seen: watching overworked nurses trying to give us their best care, and meaning that we don’t want to be ‘difficult’ means some things can get missed.

I enjoyed reading this – unsurprisingly as Clarke used to be a journalist (and I also enjoy her tweets), and nicely wove together stories of medical procedures that she’d been involved in, and tied them to a sense of how this impacted how she got engaged in the Junior Doctors strike – ending up the face of some of it, the issues caused by the underfunding of the NHS, and how her own life and family have been affected by the NHS as medics and as patients.

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