Must-Read Books for Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivors

Table of Contents

Books (or audiobooks) can contain many snippets of wisdom and knowledge, but they too can help bring inner peace, help you get a grip on a situation you are going through, and make you feel less lonely.

The following list contains some of the books I’ve read as a sudden cardiac arrest survivor.

They have greatly helped me through this rollercoaster ride that my life has become and the many ups and downs I have faced (and am still facing), and they have brought me exactly those three things I mentioned above.

How? Because all these books are from people who have also struggled with a life-altering disease or event.

This list will occasionally be updated to include other books that I have read.

If you, as a fellow survivor of sudden cardiac arrest or any other life-altering event or condition, have any books you can recommend and would like to see them added to this list, do let me know! I would be very curious to check them out.

If what you recommend would indeed be a great fit to help other survivors deal better in some way with these rollercoaster changes in their lives, I’ll have a read through the book and gladly add it to this list.

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. 

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” 

When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.

When the first Superman movie came out I was frequently asked ‘What is a hero?’  I remember the glib response I repeated so many times.  

My answer was that a hero is someone who commits a courageous action without considering the consequences–a soldier who crawls out of a foxhole to drag an injured buddy to safety.  And I also meant individuals who are slightly larger than life: Houdini and Lindbergh, John Wayne, JFK, and Joe DiMaggio.  

Now my definition is completely different. 

I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles: a fifteen-year-old boy who landed on his head while wrestling with his brother, leaving him barely able to swallow or speak; Travis Roy, paralyzed in the first thirty seconds of a hockey game in his freshman year at college.  These are real heroes, and so are the families and friends who have stood by them.”

The whole world held its breath when Christopher Reeve struggled for life on Memorial Day, 1995. On the third jump of a riding competition, Reeve was thrown headfirst from his horse in an accident that broke his neck and left him unable to move or breathe.

In the years since then, Reeve has not only survived, but has fought for himself, for his family, and for the hundreds of thousands of people with spinal cord injuries in the United States and around the world. And he has written Still Me, the heartbreaking, funny, courageous, and hopeful story of his life.

This seminal book, which has been called “one of the outstanding contributions to psychological thought” by Carl Rogers and “one of the great books of our time” by Harold Kushner, has been translated into more than fifty languages and sold over sixteen million copies. 

“An enduring work of survival literature,” according to the New York Times, Viktor Frankl’s riveting account of his time in the Nazi concentration camps, and his insightful exploration of the human will to find meaning in spite of the worst adversity, has offered solace and guidance to generations of readers since it was first published in 1946. 

At the heart of Frankl’s theory of logotherapy (from the Greek word for “meaning”) is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but rather the discovery and pursuit of what the individual finds meaningful. 

Today, as new generations face new challenges and an ever more complex and uncertain world, Frankl’s classic work continues to inspire us all to find significance in the very act of living, in spite of all obstacles.

A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull over the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave—”Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”—wasn’t about dying.

It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have . . . and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. 

It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

No writer has succeeded in capturing the medical and human drama of illness as honestly and as eloquently as Oliver Sacks

During the last few months of his life, he wrote a set of essays in which he movingly explored his feelings about completing a life and coming to terms with his own death.

“It is the fate of every human being,” Sacks writes, “to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

Together, these four essays form an ode to the uniqueness of each human being and to gratitude for the gift of life.

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.

For Mitch Albom, that person was his college professor Morrie Schwartz.

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn’t you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger?

Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final “class”: lessons in how to live. “The truth is, Mitch,” he said, “once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie’s lasting gift with the world.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
Do you have a question? Would you like to share anything?

If you have any questions about any of the books, don’t hesitate to ask me down below in the comments! I always try my best to answer all your questions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related
0
    0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop

    For the first time in history, we at HWP have launched re-birthday cards into the world. Surviving a cardiac arrest is a significant event. The day you died and were brought back to life is very precious for almost every cardiac arrest survivor. This is a day to celebrate, or at least take a moment to reflect on the moment you came back to this world. To make that significant day even better, why not buy your favorite survivor a re-birthday card?

    *We ship worldwide, with no additional fees (besides the shipping cost, of course). All prices already include VAT.*