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One word, “gratitude,” serves as the title for this slim volume of the last wise and thoughtful words from Oliver Sacks. Sacks was a noble physician and a great writer, perhaps best known for the book recounting his experience that inspired the 1990 movie Awakenings. “Gratitude” best sums up Sacks’ musings as he faced the last year of his life with purpose, joy, some regret, and a hesitant readiness to let go.

After he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in February of last year, Sacks wrote four poignant and personal essays, first published in the New York Times. In them he shares things he had kept to himself all his life. For instance, Sacks left the Orthodox Jewish faith of his family as a young medical student. In the essay “Sabbath,” he ponders what he might have been, had he observed a day of Sabbath rest and ritual throughout his life.

The quartet of essays have been gathered into this book, “an ode to the uniqueness of each human being and to gratitude for the gift of life.” It is a great gift book, a book to be read and then shared. (Knopf)

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