The bestselling author of Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I've Loved) asks, how do you move forward with a life you didn't choose?
Hailed by Glennon Doyle as 'the Christian Joan Didion', Kate Bowler used to accept the modern idea that life is an endless horizon of possibilities, a series of choices which if made correctly, would lead us to a place just out of our reach. A beach body by summer. A trip to Disneyland around the corner. A promotion on the horizon. But then at thirty-five she was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, and now she has to ask one of the most fundamental questions of all: How do we create meaning in our lives when the life we hoped for is put on hold indefinitely?
In No Cure for Being Human, Kate searches for a way forward as she mines the wisdom (and absurdity) of our modern 'best life now' advice industry, which offers us exhausting positivity, trying to convince us that we can out-eat, out-learn and out-perform our humanness. With dry wit and unflinching honesty she grapples with her cancer diagnosis, her ambition and her faith and searches for some kind of peace with her limitations in a culture that says that anything is possible.
Frank and funny, dark and wise, Kate's irreverent, hard-won observations in No Cure For Being Human chart a bold path toward learning new ways to live.
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Date reviewed/posted: August 13, 2021 Publication date: September 30, 2021 When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you have personally decided to basically continue on #maskingup and #lockingdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #fourthwave (#fifthwave?) is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. Plus it is hot as all heck and nothing is more appealing than sitting in front of a fan with a kindle! I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. The bestselling author of Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I've Loved) asks, how do you move forward with a life you didn't choose? Hailed by Glennon Doyle as 'the Christian Joan Didion', Kate Bowler used to accept the modern idea that life is an endless horizon of possibilities, a series of choices which if made correctly, would lead us to a place just out of our reach. A beach body by summer. A trip to Disneyland is around the corner. A promotion on the horizon. But then at thirty-five, she was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, and now she has to ask one of the most fundamental questions of all: How do we create meaning in our lives when the life we hoped for is put on hold indefinitely? In No Cure for Being Human, Kate searches for a way forward as she mines the wisdom (and absurdity) of our modern 'best life now' advice industry, which offers us exhausting positivity, trying to convince us that we can out-eat, out-learn and out-perform our humanness. With dry wit and unflinching honesty, she grapples with her cancer diagnosis, her ambition and her faith and searches for some kind of peace with her limitations in a culture that says that anything is possible. Frank and funny, dark and wise, Kate's irreverent, hard-won observations in No Cure For Being Human chart a bold path toward learning new ways to live. I am reviewing this very quickly because I read a friend's ARC as I was told "YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK NOW"!...thank God I did. This is an all-in memoir that is not pretty at times, but all-out funny at other moments. This is a very Jesus-positive book but that is okay,...I cannot see if offending Muslims or Jews as that is not the heart of the story ... the author is. This is a great book club pick - there is so much to discuss as there will be a LOT of opinions and not all will be the same. Trust me. I will also highly recommend this book to friends, family, patrons, and people reading books in the park as we do … I have had some of my best conversations about books down by the Thames!
Writing a memoir of her own cancer journey, Kate Bowler describes to us in glorious detail, her struggles both physical and emotional after getting a diagnosis of Stage 4 Cancer. It seems that so far her life has been blessed – her close relationship with her beloved father and the rest of her family, her wonderful loving husband, her sweet 3 year old son and of course her glittering career. Then came the dreaded words, strangely from the mouth of a doctor’s assistant who gave her the news over the phone. The journey begins and as I read I was both struck by the horror of her situation – a 35 year old young mother – and the good fortune that she has. Her family and friends are extremely supportive, her own marriage is clearly happy and loving and her child is bright and cuddly. Kate is a Christian - but even as she finds herself in this challenging situation there is never a hint that she rails against God or even questions the fairness of it all. As a UK reader I find myself slightly jarred by the godliness of the book – it’s not very British to talk about it so much. But this is a small matter and I was also fascinated enough to look up Mennanites to understand more about the community. I read the book rapidly, at first wondering if it would end in her tragic death but gradually realising this was a story of survival. While other Kate’s on the drug trial were not so lucky, our Kate survived. Knowing this important fact while writing must have made it harder to describe the terror and the confusion of the journey. The fact is that while I enjoyed it, there was something lacking for me in this book. A terrible and frightening thing happened to an incredibly lucky person, and it all ended happily after all. What I did like were some of the descriptions – “For months I have been vigilant about my doctors, alert for any nuances in facial expression…..The handful of times when I cried, or asked a particularly unvarnished question, I watched my clinical trial doctor retract like a salted slug” There was also great power in her description of her dawning realisation that taking part in a clinical trial turned her from a patient, to a study participant, and her 'doctor' was a scientist. I will continue thinking about her description of the difference between pastoral and apocalyptic time which is very relevant to the human race in this year of 2021. So you see there was much to enjoy in this book and I am so glad there was a happy ending. If there was something lacking for me it is perhaps because I ask for a little more complexity in a book dealing with life and death. Or maybe I am just envious of those who have happy families.
Poignant, heart wrenching honest and a really powerful insight into living with cancer, the highs and lows and facing your own mortality. Brilliantly written and very accessible style with a dash of humour and lots of strength and determination. A humbling and very thought provoking read, with lots of very memorable sentiments and lines, puts a lot into perspective, definitely recommend.
No Cure for Being Human is an excellent read. It is a tear jerker, it is funny, it is reflective, it is challenging and it is ever so realistic. Once I started reading it, I was totally hooked. I could not put it down. While it deals with the really serious matter of a terminal illness, is funny and ever so alive. Kate’s words I’ have so much work to get done’ as she travels through her illness is an indication of her courage and determination to be well. Yet she admits that what keeps her going are her family, her friends and her community. Throughout the book we are reminded of cliches we hear and the truths we need. Pain is described as a narrow gate and there is a lens on the new economy of scarcity that skips arguments. Kate is reminded that her best work is yet to come. In her own words she says she ‘never felt more alive, more determined, never felt more determined, never knew what really matters, than when she learnt to live each day’. She was able to honour the promise to those who had gone before by living with a feeling of purpose, leaving room for growth and living her life with courage. We are often trapped between a past we can’t return to and a future that is uncertain. It takes guts to live in this place and look forward without hedging our bets too much, living in the space between anticipation and realisation. We are never done, even when we’re done. As life is unpredictable, we learn to face uncertainty with courage, toggling between the past, the present and the future. Facing the past is part of facing the future. . We learn about people who have learned from difficult time and we come to understand why it is so hard to speak frankly about suffering. A book of hope and fortitude this is a must read.
A painfully honest account of a life altering diagnosis. Compelling in its truth. No one can understand how it feels to be in the situation but you feel that you are there by Kates side. Willing her onwards and wanting to give her a hug.
Such an insightful read. Would highly recommend No Cure for Being Human to anyone. Beautiful book and delightful to read.
What a rollercoaster of a book. Inspirational with an underlying sadness when faced with cancer. When Kate is diagnosed at 35 with incurable colon cancer she faces her life head on. Now facing a limited life in a world where we are told we can achieve anything. She understandably feels vulnerable but her humour manages to carry her through. I am so glad that I was given the chance to read this. Appreciate what you have before it is too late.
This book is intelligently written and deeply personal. I felt that I was partly intruding but also listening to a friend. Kate's story is instantly tragic, she is an academic with a husband and baby and a life that is full of potential. I admire that the author doesn't fall into a melting pot of self-pity, one that would be understandable! but instead, she is pragmatic and proactive. Experiencing something so difficult through someone else's words made me think of my own mortality and that of my family. It also made me question our priorities, this fear of getting old, having a few wrinkles, carrying a few pounds, all so trivial and meaningless when we consider the alternative. It made me remember my cousin who died at 16, he never had a girlfriend, or got a job or had children, all the things he wanted to do. So, who am I to complain about anything. I still have the potential of experience, and regardless of whether life is good or difficult, I am here, I have opportunities he never will. This book left me with understanding and empathy for her situation and appreciation for my own. I believe a good book asks its reader questions, invokes a response and challenges perceptions. Kate does all that.
No Cure for Being Human is a journey through one woman’s cancer. The ups, the downs, the misleads, the false hopes and the final outlook. This book is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a rollercoaster of highs and lows and Kate takes you right along on the journey. In tears at times, I put it down, intending never to pick it up again, only to find that I was hooked and just had to find out what happened next. It’s not an easy read; on such a serious subject, it couldn’t be and with Kate’s in-depth descriptions on treatment and diagnosis, it makes everything even more vivid. A plethora of medical terms are spattered throughout the book, which makes it even more profound and the reader is left in no doubt that whilst the story is shared with an audience, the journey is hers and hers alone.
Kate Bowler tells her story interwoven with various truths of the human condition. Naming the fact that we are all facing this incurable condition of life, one wherein no one escapes alive. There is never enough time. And that is the simple beauty of the experience. I read the book rapidly, at first wondering if it would end in her tragic death but gradually realising this was a story of survival.. As a nurse who has worked in a variety of areas such as Accident and Emergency, Palliative care and most recently, Intensive care, this book resonated well with me. This is a first for me by the author and one I enjoyed and would read more of their work. The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.
Brave, honest and inspiring Doctors tell us that half of us will get cancer in our lives but no-one wants to be told that they have the disease. None of us can know how we’ll react to such a diagnosis and Kate pulls no punches in sharing her diagnosis and story with us. Kate is open, honest and brave about her experience and feelings to the benefit of us all. But the most important point she fully embodies is where there’s life there’s hope. Kate shows the importance of positive thinking and perseverance in the darkest of times. Her book is well worth reading and is interesting and useful on many levels. Reading how she coped and responded can help us all to deal with cancer, whether it’s our own personal battles or to help us understand and support loved ones dealing with it. Whether we’re dealing with cancer on a personal level or just interested in her story Kate reminds us that life is precious and we should live each day to the full.
A must read for anyone whose life has suddenly changed. I know it’s happened to me. Reading this book was thought provoking.
My Shelf Awareness review: In her bittersweet second memoir, a religion professor finds the joys and ironies in a life overshadowed by advanced cancer. When Kate Bowler, an associate professor at Duke Divinity School, was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer at age 35, her chances of surviving two years were just 14%. In her wry, touching follow-up to her 2018 memoir Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved) and its associated podcast, she continues to combat unhelpful religious/self-help mantras as she ponders what to do with the extra time medical breakthroughs have given her. After multiple surgeries, a promising immunotherapy drug trial gave Bowler hope that she would live to see her 40th birthday and her young son starting kindergarten. Working on her bucket list, she found that small moments outshined large events: on a trip to the Grand Canyon, what stood out was a chapel in the ponderosa pinewoods where she added a prayer to those plastering the walls. In the Church calendar, “Ordinary Time” is where most of life plays out, so she encourages readers to live in an “eternal present.” The chapters function like stand-alone essays, some titled after particular truisms (like “You Only Live Once”). The book’s bittersweet tone finds the humor as well as the tragedy in a cancer diagnosis. Witty recreated dialogue and poignant scenes show the type-A author learning to let go: “I am probably replaceable,” she acknowledges, but here in the shadow of death “the mundane has begun to sparkle.” These dispatches from the “lumpy middle” of life and faith are especially recommended to fans of Anne Lamott. (3.5 stars)
This is a memoir written by Kate Bowler who, at 35, was happily married to a husband she loves, with a toddler she adores and a successful career as an associate Professor at Duke Divinity School. However, after a long period of feeling ill and demanding she is taken seriously and that scans are done, she is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. This memoir is honest and heart-wrenching, with Kate swinging between despair and hopelessness to strength and fight, which is totally understanding when she details everything she goes through, the failings of the health system and the love and support of her family and friends. It’s difficult to say too much without giving too much away - this is a relatively short book and is quick to get through. However, I recommend it for anyone - whether they have experienced significant illness or loss within their lives or not. Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
Hands down one of the best, most heartfelt memoirs I have ever read. I am in awe of Kate’s strength and courage not only in telling her story in a book, but also in accepting death and living everyday with a thought that it might be her last. The smart insights and witty remarks make this heartbreaking story this much lighter. I would highly recommend this memoir to anyone looking for motivation to do the things they always have been putting off to “later”. I would like to thank Penguin Random House for providing a free electronic copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
An honest, realistic, humorous and heart felt look at life with a terminal cancer diagnosis. Great insights on how to deal with your own mortality and the impact this has on your friends and family. A sharp and thought provoking read that I would recommend to others.