Ideas for your book club

Have you read...?

Reading is a wonderful way to learn and explore what matters to you.

For National Advance Care Planning Week, we’ve compiled a list of books fellow book lovers might want to read during March at a local book club (or any time during the year).

Be inspired

Books by our ambassadors

Some of our National Advance Care Planning Week ambassadors are also distinguished writers.

  • Kellie Curtain, "What Will I Wear To Your Funeral" - chronicles the highs and lows of her mother's cancer journey 
  • Dr Ranjana Srivastava, "Dying For A Chat" - explores the patient-doctor relationship
  • Dr Charlie Corke, "Letting Go" -  tips on planning a good death from an ICU specialist

Book club reading list

"When Breath Becomes Air" - Paul Kalanithi

When Paul Kalanithi is diagnosed with lung cancer, he is 35 years old and in his last year of residency as a brain surgeon. He wrote New York Times bestseller, When Breath Becomes Air during the last year of his life. His love of literature combines with a passion for neuroscience to create a book that despite being written about dying; is all about life and living.

His partner, Lucy Kalanithi has spoken after his death about advance care planning and explains, “Tasks like making a will, or completing our advance directives – tasks that I had always avoided – were not as daunting as they once seemed. I realised that completing an advance directive is an act of love – like a wedding vow. A pact to take care of someone, codifying the promise that til’ death do us part, I will be there. If needed, I will speak for you. I will honour your wishes. That paperwork became a tangible part of our love story.”

“I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.”
Paul Kalanithi,
When Breath Becomes Air

Paul’s wife Lucy Kalanithi presented a TED talk in 2016 ‘What makes life worth living in the face of death’.

Book club discussion questions

  • How do you live in the unknown in your own life?
  • What do you value most in your life?

Book club reading list

"Tuesdays with Morrie" - Mitch Albom

What’s a list of life-changing books without a mention of Mitch Albom’s best-selling memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie?

Mitch was reconnected with his old college professor from nearly twenty years ago. His professor, Morrie was dying and their last conversations together form the basis of this book – in which Morrie teaches Mitch his lessons in how to live, and how to die. 

“The little things, I can obey. The big things—how we think, what we value—those you must choose yourself. You can't let anyone—or any society—determine those for you.”
Mitch Albom,
Tuesdays with Morrie

Book club discussion questions

  • Do you have someone like Morrie in your life? What have they taught you?

Book club reading list

"Lost & Found" - Brooke Davis

When Brooke Davis was travelling overseas, she received the devastating news that her mother had died in an accident. It was from this grief that she wrote Lost & Found, a novel that advocates living life to the full, no matter your age.

Every character in her novel has had to confront loss and death in different ways. The characters include 7 year old Millie Bird, This funny, touching and unique book is for anyone who has lost someone to death and can’t help but to look over their shoulder to double check that person hasn’t simply been hiding all this time.

“The start date and the end date are always the important bits on the gravestones, written in big letters. The dash in between is always so small you can barely see it. Surely the dash should be big and bright and amazing, or not, depending on how you had lived.”
Brooke Davis,
Lost & Found

Book club discussion questions

  • Do you have someone like Morrie in your life? What have they taught you?

Book club reading list

"The Crossroads of Should and Must" - Elle Luna

This viral Medium article, The Crossroads of Should and Must was later published as a book, and takes us on a journey of the crossroads between ‘we should’ and ‘we must’.  It was written by an author seeking to integrate their passion for creating art into their existing life, and poses some interesting questions about what we can and cannot live without and what trade-offs we’re willing to make to get what we want out of our own lives.

It touches on the idea of writing a ‘future press release’. This writing technique is what Amazon asks its employees to write for a product that they wished would exist in the world that doesn’t yet. It’s a good technique to get businesses to think outside the square with product development and Elle explains “most of us do this kind of big scary dreaming with our products, or our companies, but very few of us do it with our lives.”

Book club discussion questions

  • Will you write your own ‘future press release’ for your own life?
  • Have you had to make a trade-off in your own life?
  • How did you weigh up outcomes and make those tough decisions?

Book club reading list

Additional books

  • "The Five People you Meet in Heaven", Mitch Albom
  • "The Alchemist", Paulo Coelho
  • "Being Mortal", Atul Gawande