Gratitude | Penguin Random House Canada
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Publisher: Knopf Canada
A deeply moving testimony and celebration of how to embrace life.

In January 2015, Oliver Sacks was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer, and he shared this news in a New York Times essay that inspired readers all over the world: "I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.... Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."
Gratitude consists of four essays that originally appeared in The New York Times, accompanied by a foreword that describes the occasion of each chapter. The foreword is written by Billy Hayes, Oliver Sacks's partner, and Kate Edgar, his long time collaborator.


“[E]xtraordinarily affecting essays. . . . The essays in Gratitude had a spare beauty about them—unusual for a writer who so loved the rich tangent. They were unique among his other, more lush, scientific writings. They had the feel of wisdom literature. Wisdom sifts; a wise man, mindful that he has little time to say what he must, gets to the point. And the tone was unusual. They were both stoical and poignant. . . .  In these final essays Dr. Sacks took as his primary subject the case of Oliver Sacks himself, in the process of dying, to teach us something about how to die.” —Norman Doidge, The Globe and Mail

“[A] deeply felt testimony to a life lived passionately in the service of others. . . . A gentle farewell from one who lived a generous, full life.” —Pamela Mordecai, author of Red Jacket

“[P]rofound.” —Book Reporter

“[Gratitude] is tiny—short enough to read easily in one sitting—but it’s huge in heart. . . . [A] beautiful meditation on what it means to live a good life.” —Sydney Trent, The Washington Post

“Sacks’s powerful look back at his remarkable life. . . . While the book shows no dimming of intellect—indeed, the material offers incisive, poignant observations—the author’s usual scientific narrative has in places been supplanted by wistful musings on life and love. . . . A perfect gift for thoughtful readers, and a title that belongs in science and biography collections.” —Henrietta Verma, Library Journal (starred review)

“[Gratitude] offers words of healing.” —The Boston Globe

“[A] worthy little chapbook for the lovers of Oliver Sacks. It contains less of the words of wisdom for others than, as the title states, gratitude of the life he has been given, or made for himself. . . . [L]overs of this author will want to read his last published words.” —The Millstone

“[A] beautiful little volume, Gratitude is a lasting gift to readers. . . . His tender book leaves readers with a similar sense of tranquility and, indeed, gratitude.” —Heller McAlpin, The Washington Post

“[Sacks’s] memoir is simply told, a retrospective account interspersed with passages from journals.” —The Telegraph

“Each [essay] expresses [Sacks’s] characteristic, unquenchable curiosity about the world around him, a thirst for experience and understanding that seems to have sustained him until the end. . . . For a full portrait of a most extraordinary man, pair Gratitude with On the Move.” —Tampa Bay Times

“If that promise of clarity is what awaits us all, then death doesn’t seem so awful, and that is a great gift from Sacks. A fitting, lovely farewell.” —Kirkus Reviews

“[A] gem of a book . . . about getting old and leaving (but loving) life. . . . This tiny book shows just why people loved Oliver Sacks, and why he got such an outpouring of friendship and goodwill when he announced his imminent death from cancer. It is a humane look at his own life, and death, told with good humor, acceptance, and that charming gratitude that had such a strong hold on him. If you know his writings, this will bring them to a thoughtful and enlightened conclusion; if you do not, the little book is a not just a farewell but will do for a grand introduction. . . . I am filled with gratitude.” —The Columbus Dispatch

“Simple prose, but profound sentiments . . . delivered with penetrating insight and courageous embrace.” —

“Oliver Sacks . . . [is] a Copernicus of the mind and a Dante of medicine who turned the case study into a poetic form . . . . Gratitude is a bittersweet and absolutely beautiful read in its entirety.” —Maria Popova, Brainpickings