IAHPC book reviews

2012; Volume 13, No 9, September

IAHPC Book Reviews

by Dr. Roger Woodruff

Palliative Care Book of the Month

How to live this year as if it were your last
Stephen Levine
Three Rivers Press, 1997
175 pp
ISBN 978-0-609-80194-9
RRP $US11.95

Anyone who has had an urgent, unforeseen admission to hospital with something potentially life-threatening will tell you how it focuses the mind to re-appraise values and priorities. Patients who know they are dying report the same. But do we have to be acutely ill or nearly dead to explore this terrain? Could following such a path allow us to deal better with issues at the end of life, even in our death-denying societies where such thoughts are left to the last moment, or left unsaid. There is a long history of belief, going back millennia, that thoughtful preparation for one’s death will allow one to deal better with it and at the same time complement and improve the life before it. Levine challenged himself to live ‘the last year of his life’ and the changes are quite remarkable. I found it both interesting and challenging although I struggled at times to keep pace with the meditational stuff. I thought this book very appropriate to people who work in palliative care, because it allows you to think about issues that it might be difficult to discuss with anyone away from work.
It is just on fifteen years since this book was published, but this is the first time it has crossed my desk. You are unlikely to forget reading it and it may be of benefit to you, and subsequently to your patients.

Roger Woodruff
(August 2012)

Other Reviews

Julian C. Hughes
Oxford University Press, 2011
169 pp
ISBN 978-0-19-959655-3
RRP £11.99 $US21.95

Whilst dementia is rarely the primary diagnosis for patients being admitted to a hospice/palliative care programme, people who work in palliative care deal with it every day. This little book, which belongs to OUP’s ‘the facts’ series, provides a clear outline of the subject. The first half of the book describes the various different types of dementia, the second what can be done to help the patients and their families. Each chapter starts with a key-point list and there are lots of other lists in the text. Short, sharp and clearly set out, I thought it would be a useful reference to have on a palliative care ward.

A Guide to Practice. 3e
Margaret O’Connor, Susan Lee and Sanchia Aranda (Eds)
Ausmed Publications, 2012
389 pp
ISBN 978-0-9803662-1-1
RRP $AU79.95

This is the third edition of O’Connor and Aranda’s Palliative Care Nursing that was first published in 1999. Updated and with some new contributors, it provides a wholesome overview of palliative care, focused primarily on the nurses’ role.
The text is also available on line at <www.ausmed.com.au>. For an annual fee (significantly more than the cost of this title), one has access to a range of nursing titles. I am not sure whether that allows one to electronically search the text, which would be a plus.
I found several aspects of the book’s presentation curious. The use of shiny paper makes it heavier, more difficult to read (for me), and presumably more expensive. The use of side-boxes to highlight bits of text (up to two per page) was distractive, duplicative, and a waste of space.

Take My Hand
Barbara Goldschmidt and Niamh van Meines
Singing Dragon, 2012
207 pp
ISBN 978-1-84819-073-3
RRP $US24.95 £14.99

Therapeutic touch and massage are forms of therapeutic communication about which I have little knowledge and even less expertise. What is described here seems to include the best of Western massage, together with a touch of Chinese medicine. If it is simple, cheap, essentially free of side effects, and of benefit to both giver and receiver, then we should have more of it.

Roger Woodruff, MD (Australia) August 2012
Dr. Woodruff is a Lifetime Member of the IAHPC Board and Past Chair. His bio may be found here.

Note for authors and publishers: If you wish to have your book reviewed, please send to:

Dr Roger Woodruff
IAHPC Bookshop Editor
210 Burgundy St, Suite 9
Heidelberg, Victoria 3084

Note: Review copies become property of IAHPC and are not returned to the author. Only palliative care related books which are previously approved will be reviewed. Due to the large number of requests, we can't provide exact dates of when books will be reviewed.

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