I haven't added any books to my "All time favorite" shelf for a while, but Ove definitely belongs up there with Mr. Penumbra and the old man who jumpeI haven't added any books to my "All time favorite" shelf for a while, but Ove definitely belongs up there with Mr. Penumbra and the old man who jumped out of a window. As someone who was not an English or literature major, it took me decades of reading and thousands of books to realize that my 5-star books usually have one or few the following items: interesting characters, an author with "heart" and/or beautiful prose. So, whether if the characters are relatable or lovable, whether if the plot is logical, or the recent favorite: whether if the narrator is unreliable, are just not the most important criteria in my scale.
With phrases like this one, my favorite, by the way (laughed hysterically at midnight and woke up the house), "Like a bolt of lightning up your urethra.", Mr. Backman did not make the fine prose society, but he's definitely a writer who truly, deeply understands human feelings and he has an amazing talent of making unique characters. One thing that amazes me is how young he is. How possibly someone so young understands the sadness and anger of Ove and Britt Marie?
"Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it's often one of the great motivations for the living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.
"We always think there's enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding onto the word like "IF."
Back to Ove. One of my favorite Japanese manga series was Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: The Power of Negative Thinking Volume 1. It's a series about a pessimistic high school teacher that always fails at his suicidal attempts. The series explores and scrutinizes the various cultural and sociological aspects of the Japanese society in a satirical way. Ove reminds me of Sensei Zetsubou. After his wife Sonja died, Ove gave up living. This world is a place that he never cares for, anyway, people were not raised the same way as it used to be.
“Ove feels an instinctive skepticism towards all people taller than six feet; the blood can’t quite make it all the way up to the brain.”
“He can’t understand people who long to retire. How can anyone spend their whole life longing for the day when they become superfluous? Wandering about, a burden on society, what sort of man would ever wish for that? Staying at home, waiting to die. Or even worse: waiting for them to come and fetch you and put you in a home. Being dependent on other people to get to the toilet. Ove can’t think of anything worse. His wife often teases him, says he’s the only man she knows who’d rather be laid out in a coffin than travel in a mobility service van.”
"The two men have tattoos all over their throats, he notes. As if the SUV is not a clear enough advertisement for their stupidity."
“all over her face and sunglasses so big that one can’t tell whether they’re a pair of glasses or some kind of helmet.”
So Ove wanted to end his life and be with the only person that could understand him, but life was not done with him yet. To see all the surprises that life has in store for Ove, you'll have to read the book yourself...and love is love is love. At the time of writing this review, our world definitely needs more love....more
**spoiler alert** It took me a long time to read this book - a story of friends, family, long lost dreams, fleeting youth, midlife crisis, secrets, an**spoiler alert** It took me a long time to read this book - a story of friends, family, long lost dreams, fleeting youth, midlife crisis, secrets, and the power of forgiveness. Straub was great with characters. Each was surprising realistic with his or her strength and shortcomings, and was well developed through the book.
Jane and Zoe, the same sex couple with their rebellious biracial daughter Ruby, are the owners of a restaurant but their love is losing its sizzles. Zoe's college band mates, Andrew and Elizabeth are married and have a goody two-shoes son Harry. Elizabeth is a well known Brooklyn real estate agent and doing well with her life, but Andrew, Andrew's life is lacking purpose. The story begins when a movie producer obtained some journals of their other band mate Lydia, who made herself quite famous as a solo singer, but died at the young age of 27.
Zoe and Elizabeth were all for the movie, but Andrew had some reservations. To complicate the matter, Harry and Ruby were both preparing to apply for college as well as starting a relationship with each other. Will young love last? Will old love from college sustain a marriage? Will secrets ruin relationships? Will unrealized dreams destroy midlifers?
The book was a bit long since many details were given for the back story of each character, although I never found the story boring. I thought it was only going to be a 4-star book throughout the first 95%. Then - the ending surprised me. Not in the "I did not predict that!" sense, but in the fact that everyone had a happy and most perfect ending. Since the author made me fall in love with the characters and root for them for almost three weeks, having them in that perfect ending makes saying goodbye easier. I know, I'm such a sucker for happily ever after......more
This book is like one of those Russian nesting dolls - you never know what's in store for you until you open the dolls one by one in oA 4.5 star read!
This book is like one of those Russian nesting dolls - you never know what's in store for you until you open the dolls one by one in order. It's like an enjoyable never-ending gift opening experience which ends up with lots of gifts you like....more
I actively seek out all books about growing old, handling age, preparing for the last journey... I find the most heartfelt writing in those kind of boI actively seek out all books about growing old, handling age, preparing for the last journey... I find the most heartfelt writing in those kind of books. Some recently great ones were Gratitude and When Breath Becomes Air. This Chinese book's title is literally translated to, "Who's waiting for you, at that silvery, sparkling place: Reading and Writing in Old Age and Musings." This is a wonderful read about aging and our society's treatment and perceptions of seniors. The wise author is, unbelievably, only in her fifties, and resides in Taiwan....more
A collection of 4 essays Oliver Sacks wrote for The New York Times at the time, before and after he was diagnosed with cancer. I've read the individuaA collection of 4 essays Oliver Sacks wrote for The New York Times at the time, before and after he was diagnosed with cancer. I've read the individual essays when they were published, but I'm grateful that I can re-read them again in this book. If there's one person who can convey us how beautiful life is, and how not to fear death...Mr. Sacks is the person. All essays are beautifully written and poignant, and worth reading over and over. By the way, I'm Xenon....more
Bought this little gem of a book at Strand's New York just by flipping through the colorful drawings and the theme, and became absorbed, then later fiBought this little gem of a book at Strand's New York just by flipping through the colorful drawings and the theme, and became absorbed, then later finished it during lunch munching on a slice of Joe's Margherita pizza.
At the time, I did not realize that she also wrote/drew Relish, which everyone in my family had enjoyed. She's known for her graphic memoirs! In this installment, the young author went on a cruise with her Grandparents. Both of them were over 90 at that time and her Grandma also suffers from dementia.
I rarely give a book 5-stars unless I could feel the heart of the author. Lucy Knisley is definitely wise beyond her years, observant, funny, loving yet is able to depict all her feelings for the world and the people in it using beautiful heart-warming drawings and her words. Her interactions with her Grandparents were delightful yet sometimes sad to read, as we are all constantly being reminded of the fragility of human life, and unforgiving baggage of old age. I'll be ordering her two other books....more
Some reviewers called Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake a nonfiction work of finding peace with getting old, and this book her fiction vSome reviewers called Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake a nonfiction work of finding peace with getting old, and this book her fiction version of the same theme. I totally agree. However, somehow I still enjoy reading her nonfictions a bit more. Her nonfiction writings are much less restrained, the jokes funnier, while her fictions can only go as far as the characters be able to reach, and her characters are not as likable as she is....more
This book reads like part House, part Grey’s Anatomy and part diary, yet much, much more informative. By bringing us into his every day life and meetiThis book reads like part House, part Grey’s Anatomy and part diary, yet much, much more informative. By bringing us into his every day life and meeting his various patients at New York Presbyterian Hospital’s emergency department, Dr. Brendan Reilly explains, by example, why US healthcare, or more precise, ER care, has evolved into the complicated, hard-to-navigate maze that we see today; why most young med school graduates decide to to become specialists instead of primary physicians, which our country desperately needs.
The title, One Doctor, was used since all we need is this one doctor who's our advocate. Due to the regulation and involvement of the health insurance industry, most of us do not have a doctor who deeply concerns about us, who knows us well, who rallies for the right care in our behalf. On the other hand, we all have a battery of specialists. We have a cardiologist for our heart, a rheumatogist for our arthritis, an urologist for our prostates...and so on. Specialists make much more money, and where we are referred to once our ailment is out of our primary care’s scope. But, they usually do not know our complete health history since they only focus on a specific part of us. Dr. Reilly claimed that the patient with the one doctor that truly care for him, follows him over time and know him well would win this rat race of so-called American healthcare. It’s the difference between life and death sometimes…or worse, between death and insufferable life.
Sometimes when a patient or family says, “Do everything for me, doctor,” it unnecessarily that they want to try everything possible to live. Sometimes they do not want to hurt the family members who can’t let go, or they’re scared, or they have no idea hanging on could be worse than death. It’s the doctor, a good doctor’s job to find out what these patients really want, since some scenarios can be really worse than death. We all have a different trade-off limit between how much we are willing to suffer to prolong our life, it’s also a responsible doctor’s job to find out. From the various cases we encounter along with Dr. Reilly, we acquire a better understanding of the end of life, terminal illness, palliative care (which is not used enough), the quality of life, letting go, who to assign as surrogate and all other choices we might face in the future which we most likely never prepared ourselves for. We also will learn about the not perfect, but needed advanced directives as well.
As Dr. Reilly stated, “Most of the sad stories happen when this process doesn’t start until it’s too late. That’s how all those folks wind up comatose in nursing home and intensive care units, fogged with drugs and flogged by machines, not a prayer of getting better. It’s a living hell—and the only hyperbole in that phrase is the ‘living’ part.”
Dr. Reilly is a brilliant storyteller and great writer, and also a rare doctor that deeply cares for his patients. I can feel his real concern and love for life and the world. I could also feel the empathy he has for his patients and their families by reading the way he put his thoughts on paper. Several of these stories were deeply moving: Mr. Gunther, who endured a progressive form of cancer earlier in life who now faces another one; Mr. Atkins with a rapidly progressive terminal illness, who does not have time to prepare his family for his death; Ms. Rhodik, who refused to speak, but her family’s decisions are endangering her health. Others were down right disturbing: Fred, who decided that “losing his marbles” was never an option…and many more. We also learn about the cost of a misdiagnosis, as well as the cost of doing too much.
This is a deeply moving book with many though-provoking stories, and lots of useful information from a good and genuinely caring doctor who has over 40 years of experience. Read this book, for your elders, for yourself, for your children…and for the hope of a better health care system in the near future. This book will make you a better patient, advocate, caretaker, healthcare consumer and....human.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an advance reading copy. ...more