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How Not to Die: Surprising Lessons on Living Longer, Safer, and Healthier from America's Favorite Medical Examiner
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How Not to Die: Surprising Lessons on Living Longer, Safer, and Healthier from America's Favorite Medical Examiner

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  640 ratings  ·  126 reviews

Thousands of people make an early exit each year and arrive on medical examiner Jan Garavaglia’s table. What is particularly sad about this is that many of these deaths could easily have been prevented. Although Dr. Garavaglia, or Dr. G, as she’s known to many, could not tell these individuals how to avoid their fates, we can benef
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Crown Publishing Group (first published 2008)
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Start your review of How Not to Die: Surprising Lessons on Living Longer, Safer, and Healthier from America's Favorite Medical Examiner
Feb 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
This books alludes to several surprising lessons on living longer like "Don't do cocaine," and "Wear a seatbelt." ...more
Kater Cheek
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it had gory but scientific explanations of the puzzles behind figuring out how people died. So, that was cool. I always like books about forensics.

On the other hand, no one is going to get any news about what kills you, not unless you've been living under a rock for the past twenty years. Smoking kills you? Really? Seat belts save lives? And in related news, water is wet!

Also, some of the advice came off as moralistic and low on facts. For example
Jennifer Wardrip
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book should actually be called: "Don't Be an Idiot and You'll Live Longer." But I'm sure Dr. G and her publishers thought HOW NOT TO DIE sounded just a little bit better!

If you watch the DR. G: MEDICAL EXAMINER show at all regularly, you'll recognize a number of the scenarios presented in the book. Even having seen them before, though, I was intrigued enough to read the whole thing.

Most of the information provided is commen sense: if you don't become obese, if you don't smoke, do drugs, o
Oct 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
Surprising lessons indeed. Apparently, smoking is bad for you. So is abuse of drugs, driving recklessly, morbid obesity and having an accident. So avoid all that and everything's jake. ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
I've never seen Dr. G's TV show. Did watch Six Feet Under (each episode began with how a character died) and have been known to turn on a crime show now and then. An interesting, well written, quick read.

I appreciated the very first sentence in the acknowledgements where she thanked the decedents and the privilege they provided her to learn. Also, " . . .a lot of us make our own bad luck. Life is a series of choises. And these choices, plus genetics and luck, determine our fate."

Dr. G. also disc
This is interesting enough, and there is some good information, including websites and phone numbers, but it didn't reach out and grab me. It did give me enough information that I started worrying about diseases I might have that I never knew about before. :)

* * *

Product Description

Thousands of people make an early exit each year and arrive on medical examiner Jan Garavaglia’s table. What is particularly sad about this is that many of these deaths could
Apr 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
surprisingly engaging, readable book by "America's favorite medical examiner" -- haven't previously heard of her nor seen her TV show, but she's a good, clear writer and gives reasonable advice about health practices based on her experience of having conducted thousands of autopsies.

Much of the advice is predictable if you haven't been living under a rock (don't smoke, don't drink to excess, wear your seatbelt, wear a helmet if you ride a motorcycle, put a smoke detector on each floor of your ho
Jul 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Dr. G. I loved her show until my cable company decided to replace Discovery Health Channel with OWN (ugh). So when I saw that my library had this book I had to pick it up. Dr. G gives the most candid medical advice without being preachy. Her tips on making oneself healthy are simple and not outrageous like some health writers out there. She is a firm believer in moderation in all things. Her book is peppered with examples from her cases, showing how her patients could have av ...more
Jan 19, 2010 rated it liked it
This book was an interesting journey through the many things that can kill! Dr. G., uses real-life examples of actual cases to explain the tragedy that some families go through. This book was kind boring in some places, but overall it was a good read.
Dec 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, medical
I'm learning that lifestyle choices and habits of behavior can prevent premature trips to the ME. ...more
Dec 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. Also loved her shows. It is a very good book if you are a smoker or a drinker or for anyone else that abuses their body. Her bottom line is be smart, live longer.
Christine Kenney
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Nothing controversial here; wish it went deeper. There's some value to a momento mori exercise of thinking about a medical examiner opening you up and marveling at your clear arteries and solid bone density because you've taken care of yourself. I wish I hadn't read some of these anecdotes though. Dr. G. acknowledges the circumstances of their death were very atypical, hence their stop over in her morgue. But now I've got these stories about things that are statistically rare that I'm worried ab ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
At first glance this book does not appear to be a 'good read' but once I got going found it to be fascinating. Good advice about how to stay safe and live longer are interlaced with a description of her experiences as a medical examiner/pathologist. An intelligent person with a strong stomach she is also and an excellent communicator. An entertaining and informative book in which she reveals the common sense secret to a long life which careful, be lucky, don't do alcohol or drugs, don't ...more
Carla McKelvey
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Out of fairness I am a doctor reading this book. As a result it was incredibly simplified and thus really did not capture my attention. I put it down after two chapters. I would have read it if the focus had been on her cases. She gives very brief overviews of her cases and then uses it to emphasize a medical point like go see your doctor every year and tell the doctor everything and check the prescription before you take it.

I am sure other people would find this book interesting. Those who are
Jul 25, 2020 added it
The hook is tips for avoiding premature death (which mainly turn out to be no-brainers like “don’t smoke.”) The cool part is the clinical sleuthing by a surprisingly upbeat medical examiner. (Which is NOT the same as a coroner, I now know.)

This book fills the important “debut book by author over 50” square on my Seattle Public Library 2020 Book Bingo Card.
James G Dupuy
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought the book was both quite entertaining and informative. I was a big fan of the show on TV. Most of the advice is common sense, but far too many people don't use that a lot anymore. She also speaks to those of us that are pretty clueless about our health. Mostly from simply not getting normal preventive testing. (BP, blood sugar, and the like) It's a good book to read! ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book

Dr. G is a highly qualified to talk about poor health issues that's preventable. The book is easy to read as there is no jargon. Her narration makes each story interesting. Since the patients are dead, it is up to Dr. G to backtrack what happened to the patients. So it like reading a mystery and you are trying to get to the conclusion.
Vicky Z
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
There are two books with the same title and hastily chose this one instead of the one I was looking for, but I'm glad I did. I thought it was interesting and I learned a lot. She's inspired me to focus more on my health and what's important. ...more
Lesley Albers
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting book, never watched her show. Medical examiner brings up a lot of good points about how to take care of yourself so as not to end up on her table. By explaining what smoking, alcohol, obesity can do to one's body; she definitely leaves alot to ponder. ...more
Louise McMurray
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ways to stay alive

This very readable book gave examples of how and why people die prematurely r through lifestyle choices. There is no finger shaking. It just makes sense to make choices to ensure the best quality of life possible.
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
OK - nicely written, though not as exciting as I'd expected. Full of solid health advice of the common sense variety (eat right, exercise, don't do drugs, pay attention to symptoms, etc.) I like the author's TV show, and the book was like a pleasant season review. ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Should be a text book for teen agers

The stories about autopsies are great. However there is too much filler between with her writing about things to avoid and stuff I already know.
For a younger audience, like a high school health class it could be really helpful.
May 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting take on learning points to help avoid most common ways of dying gathered during autopsies. Didn’t gather much from this since it was very centered around “go to your doctor, talk to your doctor”.
Robin Webb
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting - and I love Dr. jan!
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Solid advice
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mostly obvious

Worth reading even if most of the advice is obvious. You'd be surprised how people that are mostly prudent most of time can suddenly have a fatal lapse in judgment.
Standard Advice

Nothing new here, and some outdated medical advice, but fun case studies. Love her show! Overall it’s a decent read.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK for a Kindle book, but not nearly enough case studies.
Jacqueline Wright
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting!
Teresa Atchison
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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