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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  15,388 ratings  ·  1,671 reviews
“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. 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.”
—Oliver Sacks

No writer has succeeded in capturing the medical and human drama of illness
Hardcover, 49 pages
Published November 24th 2015 by Knopf Canada (first published November 19th 2015)
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Adam Clark morality is the ongoing discovery of the various elements that contribute to human well-being and how we can live good lives together.

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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  15,388 ratings  ·  1,671 reviews

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Nov 29, 2015 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
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
Elyse  Walters
Apr 26, 2016 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!

”Eighty! I can hardly believe it. I often feel that life is about to begin, only to realize it is almost over.”

This is the first of Oliver Sach’s books, writings, I have read, and I loved reading his thoughts, musings, feelings, and observations as he faced the realization that the end of his life was near. The things he hasn’t done, whether he meant to ever do them or not, are now almost unthinkable – foreign languages he never learned, traveling the world and experiencing other cultures… a
Feb 22, 2016 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.
Jun 16, 2016 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
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.

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 be
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-books
Every once in a while, I stumble on a life-giving book but this is my first by a man who was dying.

Oliver Sacks, an eminent neurologist, wrote his memoir in the last two years of his life when he found out that an ocular melanoma he contracted earlier had metastasized in his liver. In the epigraph, he wrote, ‘I am now face to face with dying, but I am not finished with living.’ His zest for living was the theme in a quartet of essays that comprised this 66-page memoir. It is a refrain that was
Apr 23, 2016 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.
Jun 30, 2016 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
B 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
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-audible
A very moving audio. It made me want to hear more...
Dec 02, 2015 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
David Schaafsma
Aug 18, 2016 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
Lubinka Dimitrova
A bittersweet reminder to count our blessings each and every day.
Krista Regester
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
A touching and very personal sentiment between Oliver Sacks and the world of readers. This is a quick and beautiful read.
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
Feb 21, 2016 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
Mar 20, 2016 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
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Feb 14, 2016 marked it as i-want-money
Morbidly googling the obits for The Death and Life of D. Keith Mano and I run across an obit of Sacks which discusses Our Man=o. About death. Listen.

"A Good Doctor On Dying A Good Death"

"In the mid-1990s, novelist and National Review columnist D. Keith Mano used the neurologist’s work with people who recover their sight to argue for the medical authenticity of one of Christ’s miracles. When Jesus healed the blind man at Bethsaida, in the Gospel of Mark ch
Daniel Chaikin
Mar 25, 2016 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
Karen Ng
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.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inspirational, essays
A beautiful quartet of essays on appreciation and gratitude written in the last two years of his life. I come to his writing at the end and now shall have to go back to the beginning, so poignant, loving, I look forward to knowing his work afresh. The last page moved me to tears.
Aug 10, 2016 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.
David Sasaki
Apr 06, 2016 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
Dec 31, 2015 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
Oct 30, 2015 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!
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable collection of four essays by Oliver Sacks, from the time of his eightieth birthday to just before his death from metastatic ocular melanoma. He shares about ageing, about life and about death. It is a small book which speaks volumes.

I do not think of old age as an ever grimmer time that one must somehow endure and make the best of, but as a time of leisure and freedom, freed from the factitious urgencies of earlier days, free to explore whatever I wish, and to bind the thou
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it
3 3/4☆
A small collection of four (4) essays written within the last few years of his life. The sense of gratitude is important. When my head gets confused and my spirt becomes ungrateful, this small book can help. It is a good book, not a particularly good one, just solidly good. The spirituality is less deep than a proclaimed spiritual book. Sacks does not proclaim that this a spiritual book. He says that these essays were written during the last period of his life. The four essays provide a wi
Sixty pages, and I cried by the end.
Not even gonna try to deny it. This was so out of this world. I can't even begin to describe it.

One of the things that really touched me was the way mr. Sacks precieved his old age. It's something that I always think about, what I'd feel if I got as old as eighty, and honestly the idea used to fill me with dread. But the amount of grace and gratitude and zest mr. Sacks showed, till the last days of his life are truly remarkable.

The last piece was the one that
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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

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“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.”
“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.” 86 likes
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