Summer Reading Selection Deals With Issues of Aging and Death

Being Mortal, a physician’s reflection about the medical field’s challenge in addressing end-of-life issues, is the University’s 2016 selection for its Carolina Summer Reading Program.

Atul Gawande’s book, which has been on The New York Times’ best-seller list for 63 weeks, was described by the Times in November 2014 as “a personal meditation on how we can better live with age-related frailty, serious illness and approaching death.”

Cover-Image-199x300It was selected for UNC’s reading program by a nine-person panel consisting of equal parts faculty, staff and students.

Gawande, who was Carolina’s spring 2014 Commencement speaker, also writes about the choices people can make together to fulfill a good life.

Tim Marr, distinguished associate professor of American studies and chair of the committee, said Being Mortal uses interviews with doctors, stories about health care and Gawande’s experiences during his own father’s death to explore “crucial questions about how we humanize our capacity to choose autonomy and dignity at all stages of living.”

“Dr. Gawande is a practicing surgeon who models the important stakes of lifelong multidisciplinary inquiry in writing this empowering book,” Marr said. “He helps us confront death by encouraging open discussion about important matters faced by every family for which medicine can ultimately provide no answer. The book is an eloquent and informative celebration of life that contrasts three generations of a South Asian family and emboldens our appreciation of everyone’s need to exist with integrity until the end.”

First-year and transfer students who enroll at UNC this fall are encouraged to read the book this summer and participate in small group discussions the Monday before fall 2016 semester classes begin.

The Carolina Summer Reading Program, now in its 18th year, aims to stimulate critical thinking outside the classroom and give new students intellectual common ground. An academic icebreaker, it encourages students to engage with the scholarly community and come to their own conclusions about the material.


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