On the Same Page 2016

The Jones Library is holding its 4th On the Same Page community reading program, featuring the book Being Mortal:  Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. The entire Amherst community is invited to read the book and participate in the related programming. A variety of programs are being offered to enrich the reading experience of this acclaimed bestseller and to encourage dialog about the themes the book presents, particularly aging and improving quality-of-life at the end of life.

This year, our community read will take place as part of a larger regional community read event, entitled Discussing Mortality:  A Community Conversation.  Dr. Atul Gawande's book Being Mortal has started a national conversation about the deep flaws in our society's current treatment of aging and dying people.  Using his book as a springboard and drawing on the rich resources of Cooley Dickinson Hospital, we will look closely at our goals for end-of-life care and being to plan how to bring about better outcomes for ourselves and our loved ones.

Events will be held at area libraries and other community locations from February through mid-April.  For a listing of participating libraries and community organizations and the programming being offered in the area, please click here.

Being Mortal:  Medicine and What Matters in the End
Being Mortal:  Medicine and What Matters in the End examines the hardest challenge of the medical profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.  Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession's ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. He offers examples of different models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care, to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.

Being Mortal is a bestselling title that has been acclaimed on many lists and nominated for prizes, including The New York Times Notable Books of the Year, The Economist Magazine Books of the Year, Shelf Awareness Best Books of the Year, Apple iBooks Best of the Year, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Guide to the 100 Best Books of the Year, Oprah.com Best Books of the Year, NPR Best Book of the Year, Buzzfeed Best Books of the Year, Barnes and Noble Best New Books of the Year, Amazon.com Best Books of the Year, Audie Award Finalist, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers, Los Angeles Times Holiday Books Guide, L.A. Times Book Prize - Finalist, National MS Society Books for a Better Life Award Winner, and the Indies Choice Book Awards Winner.

Obtaining a Copy
Copies of Being Mortal can be signed out from the Jones Library and branches, requested and checked out from the C/W Mars library catalog, or purchased at Amherst Books in downtown Amherst.

A reading and discussion guide for the book is available on the publisher's website.

Schedule of Jones Library Events
  • The public is welcome at all events - it is not necessary to have read the book to attend the programs, although it is encouraged.
  • All events are free and open to the public.
  • The capstone event for this regional community read is being organized by Cooley Dickinson Hospital and will be held on Thursday, April 14 from 6 - 7 pm at Edwards Church in Northampton.  This event will feature Vicki Jackson, Director of Palliative Care at Massachusetts General Hospital, who will discuss the needs of patients with serious illness and how to advocate for them.  This event is free, but seating is limited.  Please pre-register at www.cooley-dickinson.org/classes or by calling 888-554-4234.
Saturday, March 5 at 2:30 p.m. - Woodbury Room
Introduction to Green Burial - This informative talk  by Dr. Carol Coan introduces attendees to the increasingly popular concept of green burial.  Just what are the options for disposition of a body, and where does green burial fit in?  What is green burial, and what makes it "green"?  How and where can it be done?  What's the situation in Massachusetts?  Dr. Coan will address all these points and more.  There will be time for questions as well.
Saturday, March 19 at 2:00 p.m. - Woodbury Room
Book Discussion of Being Mortal - This discussion will look at the selected title for our community read.  The discussion will be led by speakers from Cooley Dickinson hospital. 

Thursday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. - Woodbury Room
The Legalities of Life's End - Protecting Your Wishes - Attorney Valerie Vignaux of Bacon Wilson will join us to discuss end-of-life planning. She will address the documents necessary to make sure wishes are honored, including Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxies, and Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST). Valerie will also discuss the family and caregiver concerns that often accompany such planning, and how to avoid guardianship. Valerie is an associate attorney with Bacon Wilson of Amherst, Northampton, Westfield, and Springfield. She focuses her practice on estate planning, elder law, and special needs planning.

Tuesday, March 29 at 7:00 p.m. - Woodbury Room
Frontline's Being Mortal:  Screening & Discussion - A screening of Frontline's program Being Mortal will be followed by a discussion led by Joan Berzoff, Professor at Smith College, where she has directed the End of Life Certificate Program, and Dr. Lewis Cohen, a palliative care psychiatrist at Baystate Medical Center.

Saturday, April 2 at 2:00 p.m. - Woodbury Room
The Hospice Alternative
-  Marietta Pritchard, hospice volunteer and author of The Way to Go: Portrait of a Residential Hospice, will talk about her experiences.  She will be joined by  Norma Palazzo, Bereavement and Spiritual Counselor at the Hospice of the Fisher Home in North Amherst. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Thursday, April 21 at 7:00 p.m. - Woodbury Room
Your Medical Mind: Book Discussion
-  Making medical decisions is harder than ever. We are bombarded with information from all sides. Based on scores of patient iinterviews, Your Medical Mind by Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband helps readers recognize their preferences in the struggle to make the best health choices for themselves. The discussion will be facilitated by Margot Malachowski, MLS, Baystate Health Community Outreach Librarian. Books will be available at the Jones Library reference desk or can be borrowed through C/W Mars.

About the Author
Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, is a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. He practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Samuel O. Thier Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He is also Executive Director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation, and Chairman of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally. He and his wife have three children and live in Newton, Massachusetts.

Atul has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1998 and has written four New York Times bestsellers: ComplicationsBetterThe Checklist Manifesto, and most recently, Being MortalMedicine and What Matters in the End. He is the winner of two National Magazine Awards, AcademyHealth’s Impact Award for highest research impact on healthcare, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the Lewis Thomas Award for writing about science.

For more information about previous On the Same Page titles, please visit this information page.
On the Same Page Amherst
Being Mortal