Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Gratitude” as Want to Read:
Gratitude
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Gratitude

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  6,787 Ratings  ·  853 Reviews
A deeply moving testimony and celebration of how to embrace life.

In January 2015, Oliver Sacks was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer, and he shared this news in a New York Times essay that inspired readers all over the world: "I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.... Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking anima
...more
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published November 24th 2015 by Knopf Canada (first published November 2015)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Petra Eggs
Dec 02, 2015 Petra Eggs rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a very short book. I had read two of the essays before, this time I got the audio book and listened to them. Sometimes it is a different experience. Just four essays written by Oliver Sacks before he died. All the links are to the essays as they were originally published.

The first essay, Mercury or the Joy of Old Age is a brief meditation on what it will mean to him to be very old, 80.

The second essay, My Own Life on learning the cancer from his eye has metastised and is now terminal. It
...more
Iris P

Short but profound reflections on life, aging and confronting sickness and the end of your life with dignity and grace.
In an essay called "Mercury", Sacks reflects:
"My father, who lived to 94, often said that the 80s had been one of the most enjoyable decades of his life. He felt, as I begin to feel, not a shrinking but an enlargement of mental life and perspective. One has had a long experience of life, not only one’s own life, but others’, too. One has seen triumphs and tragedies, booms and b
...more
Elyse
May 26, 2016 Elyse rated it it was amazing
I listened to this audio yesterday while in the woods. (a gift to the world, by Oliver Sacks)
It felt so unflinchingly honest that it hurt.
Oliver Sacks was a remarkably accomplished man --His gifts were huge --and his heart even bigger!

Sad-tender-and so very beautiful!


















David
Jun 16, 2016 David rated it it was amazing
This is a set of four short, but beautiful and profound essays by Oliver Sacks. They are reflections on his life, after learning that he was terminally ill.

I have read several of his books on neurology, but in this short book I learned about Sacks himself, and his life. I never realized that he was an "elements guy". That is to say, his hobby was learning and collecting elements from the periodic table. And he had a lifelong love for the physical sciences, beyond his career in the biological sc
...more
Britany
Jun 12, 2016 Britany rated it really liked it
Oliver Sacks pens these four essays over the span of a few years at different times during his battle with an eye melanoma that metastasized. Short and poignant, these essays really hit home. I can only imagine the lasting legacy they've created for Dr. Sacks. This book is short at only 45 pages and it is interspersed with pictures. What a way to memorialize a person that has been a resounding voice in the written word.
PattyMacDotComma
5
Even if you’ve never read anything by neurologist Oliver Sacks, I bet you’ve seen the famous movie based on his book Awakenings, with Robin Williams as the Sacks character and Robert de Niro as a patient “awakened” from a catatonic state. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099077/

Neurology may have been his professional field, but the man was so much more--a naturalist and philosopher, loved by many. Sacks wrote this tiny “quartet of essays” in the last years of his life, the first, Mercury, just bef
...more
MLE
Dec 18, 2015 MLE rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, essays
A short collection of essays, but one that is beautifully written, and perfectly put together. I really appreciated his thoughts on aging, and on morality. It was heavy, but it didn't feel dark or oppressive either. I liked the glimpse it gave me of the author, his thought process, and his understanding of the world. I haven't read anything by him, but he is one of my sister's favorite authors, and after this I have a deep desire to read more.

It also inspired me to look up my element year, Krypt
...more
Brendon Schrodinger
David read this recently and gave it a great big thumbs up, and it inspired me to pick it up also. It's a very small book and came cheap as an ebook, and I finished it easily one night before bed. It consists of four essays that Oliver wrote before his death. From just before his terminal diagnosis to a couple of months before his death.

Oliver writes logically and emotionally about a life well-lived. He has a certain profound wisdom that comes from a life with many experiences. And there is no
...more
Tony
Jun 30, 2016 Tony added it
It has been my lot to stand outside stores while family shops. It could be Venice or La Jolla or just back home. Doesn't matter. Leather coats are modeled; children's designer socks are awwwwwwwed at; I stand outside, watching the passing parade of life.

But on a recent trip to Seattle I was spared the awkward shuffling of stance by a daughter who finally felt some pity. Or maybe she just worried that I would wander off, being in my dotage years, and it would take too long to recover me. Oh, the
...more
Karen
Mar 01, 2016 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Four essays written prior to his death, a reflection on living and coming to terms with his death.
Carol
May 05, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-audible
A very moving audio. It made me want to hear more...
Abdulrahman
Aug 16, 2016 Abdulrahman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In one of his essays (Mercury) in this book, Oliver Sacks mentioned how the elements and his birthdays had always been intertwined (e.g., he would say, "I'm sodium," the element with the atomic number eleven, in his eleventh birthday), and so I borrowed this idea, and used it to write to him this little eulogy:

When he was a year old he became hydrogen and he made up galaxies and stars.
A year later, he got fused into helium, and made us laugh out loud.
At three, he was lithium, and allowed the i
...more
Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)
There is nothing I can say about this book- a very brief collection of four essays- besides that it is extraordinarily beautiful, illuminating, thoughtful, and, most of all, lucid. Sacks brings his life to a close within these tiny pages, and it is nothing short of touching. He has the sort of mentality- the unceasing wonder at (and fondness for) the world and the people and creatures on it- that is truly inspiring, and reading his works here one can't help but be a little proud of the human rac ...more
David Schaafsma
Sep 02, 2016 David Schaafsma rated it really liked it
I first read the work of neurologist Oliver Sacks when I was in graduate school, and was researching the use of narrative, of storytelling, as a form of inquiry in a range of disciplines. Stories in neurology, the ultimate mystifying brain science? But it made sense to me. There are scientific research and facts, but the way to fully understand these facts is in the context of actual human lives, in anecdote, and biography, and experience. Thus I read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat that ...more
Bruce
Mar 20, 2016 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the past number of decades, as a reader and a physician and simply as a thoughtful person, I have read Oliver Sacks’ books with interest, pleasure, and appreciation. This present book, a collection of four essays that Sacks wrote in the last three years of his life, three with the knowledge that he was dying, is slight but slight only in its length, not in its wisdom. The gratitude that he expresses as he looks back over his life and his experiences is mirrored by the gratitude of his many r ...more
Tiffany Reisz
Dec 30, 2015 Tiffany Reisz rated it it was amazing
I only pray I handle the end of my life as gracefully as the great Oliver Sacks did, may he rest in peace.
Karen
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 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.
Daniel Chaikin
Apr 02, 2016 Daniel Chaikin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hardly a "book" in length. It's 36 minutes on audio, which means around 16 full pages of text. The physical book must have a large text and line spacing.

Oliver Sacks passed away last year, age 82, about two years after he learned he had terminal cancer. The four personal essays here each cover a distinct time period and mind set. The first is on his turning 80, before he learned about his cancer. The second is just after he learned about the terminal cancer. And the last was written shortly bef
...more
JanB
Feb 21, 2016 JanB rated it it was amazing
This is a short collection of 4 essays, one written before his terminal diagnosis, and 3 written after. Not surprisingly, given the title, his prevailing attitude was one of gratitude. This quote sums it up:

"I cannot pretend I am without fear, But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of
...more
Steph
Dec 31, 2015 Steph rated it really liked it
These four essays were so moving profound and really thought-provoking. Especially the last essay I found so beautiful I haven't read anything before by Dr. Sax but I Heard about this collection of essays on the podcast books on the nightstand and just felt like I had to read it. It was so good and I think a fitting final book of 2015
Jenn
Oct 30, 2015 Jenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2015
The audiobook narration isn't great, unfortunately, but these four essays that Sacks wrote as he approached the end of his life are really beautiful and moving. Skip the audio and read them in print!
Holly
Jan 13, 2016 Holly rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
A wonderful set of short essays about gratitude, love, death, and the view of a man knowing he was going to die. I have never read any of Oliver Sacks' books, but I will definitely now endeavor to get my hands on one.

If you'd like a short read, that makes you consider your own position in your life, and how much you appreciate it, read this. Each essay is wonderfully written!
David Sasaki
Apr 06, 2016 David Sasaki rated it really liked it
Last year, when I was struggling at Gates Foundation and unsure of what I wanted to do with my life, I sat down at my neighborhood coffeeshop for a little exercise. I'd come up with four people whose lives inspire me and do some thinking about why that was. Oliver Sacks was one of the four. This was last July. He already knew that he was dying, and he was prolifically turning out essays about his own mortality -- essays that were compiled in this slim book. I had already read three of the four e ...more
Joyce
Aug 10, 2016 Joyce rated it really liked it
Shelves: inspiration
This is a simple, yet profound book. It exudes a peacefulness, appreciation for life and gratitude, especially knowing that the end is near.
Daniel Piper
Nov 27, 2015 Daniel Piper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful

I became aware of Oliver Sacks only in the last year or two of his life, through interviews, articles about his essays and autobiography, and his contributions to WNYC's Radiolab. Every time I heard him speak or read his words, I was struck by what a beautiful, gentle man he seemed to be. And when I heard he had been diagnosed with metastatic cancer and was about to die, I was deeply saddened. His story, which I had just come to know, was coming to an end.

This book is a very short read
...more
Antonia
Jan 08, 2016 Antonia rated it really liked it
I'm very sad that Oliver Sacks is no longer alive, but he is still very much part of this world. These are uplifting essays. His was a life that was lived fully and well, and ended well, too. Would that we could all be so grateful for our lives, whatever they may be.

"I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have
...more
Nicole
Sep 02, 2016 Nicole rated it really liked it
Sacks was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the liver and the essays in this collection were written during the last two years of his life. A short (I read this on my lunch hour) but meaningful work that brought me some comfort and comfort to countless others, I imagine.

"I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I h
...more
Jeanette
May 04, 2016 Jeanette rated it really liked it
This is a short read of essays at the end of his life. Sacks' thoughts are sincere, peaceful and I appreciated reading them. Loved the aspect of his putting in the things (like the elements and music) that fit his life's connections. As we age we do see priorities differently and do say goodbye too in different ways. This was an essentially personal love letter to life and the friends of his life at core and also encompassed his own good-byes (in the written way) in the story of his medical prog ...more
Jalawa
Jan 06, 2016 Jalawa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am element 39, Yttrium. After reading, Gratitude, I must own that I've yet to be sharp as, Lead- Oliver Sacks (element 82). I almost never, compare myself to others. However, I have learned a lot about the worth of positive thinking. Sacks, showed his true mettle all the way until his death.

This book is a must read. My favorite quote from it is: "I had been given not a remission, but an intermission, a time to deepen friendships, to see patients, to write, and to travel back to my homeland, E
...more
Milly Cohen
May 21, 2016 Milly Cohen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
volver a leerlo pero ahora en español y en shabbat
le dio un matiz distinto
y sus 5 estrellas!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day
  • After This: When Life Is Over, Where Do We Go?
  • My Favorite Things
  • What Now?
  • On My Own
  • The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New
  • The Awakened Family: A Revolution in Parenting
  • Parenting with Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids
  • This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism
  • How to Read the Akashic Records: Accessing the Archive of the Soul and Its Journey
  • One for the Books
  • Special Exits
  • Survival Lessons
  • Kayak Morning: Reflections on Love, Grief, and Small Boats
  • How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People (While They Are Still on This Earth)
  • Trace: Memory, History, Race and the American Land
  • The Possibility Dogs: What a Handful of "Unadoptables" Taught Me About Service, Hope, and Healing
  • This Is Getting Old: Zen Thoughts on Aging with Humor and Dignity
843200
Oliver Wolf Sacks, CBE, was a British neurologist residing in the United States, who has written popular books about his patients, the most famous of which is Awakenings, which was adapted into a film of the same name starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.

Sacks was the youngest of four children born to a prosperous North London Jewish couple: Sam, a physician, and Elsie, a surgeon. When he wa
...more
More about Oliver Sacks...

Share This Book



No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate—the genetic and neural fate—of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death. I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” 33 likes
“Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” 16 likes
More quotes…