I love to read books, a lot of books. In fact, most of my days start with a short read and end with a longer one. For me, there is nothing greater than getting lost in the fiction novels, historical romances, technical health and science books, and/or history books that haphazardly pile up on my bedside table.

Of all the wonderful books I have read over the last years, two that had a significant impact on how I view life, health, ageing and mortality were Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal and Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air.

In Being Mortal, Atul Gawande reveals the suffering that comes from the inescapable realities of how our society deals aging and death. It is a raw and important view into how doctors and family members, uncomfortable with dealing with our inevitable mortality, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them.

When Breath Becomes Air also deals with mortality. I bought this book on a whim, and ended up letting emotion overtake me while devouring its incredible content over a couple of days. Although heavy in subject matter, it is an amazingly light, real and easy to read novel, beautifully describing a neurosurgeon’s (and dare I say poet’s) search for the meaning of life in the face inevitable death.

A must read for all who have ever questioned “What makes a life worth living?”, these two non-fiction books have the potential to change medicine, health-care, as well as lives.