Every Third Thought: On Life, Death and the End-Game
'Thoughtful, subtle, elegantly clever and oddly joyous, Every Third Thought is beautiful' Kate Mosse In 1995, at the age of forty two, Robert McCrum suffered a dramatic and near-fatal stroke, the subject of his acclaimed memoir My Year Off. Ever since that life-changing event, McCrum has lived in the shadow of death, unavoidably aware of his own mortality. And now, twenty-one years on, he is noticing a change: his friends are joining him there. Death has become his contemporaries' every third thought. The question is no longer 'who am I?' but 'how long have I got?' and 'what happens next?' With the words of McCrum's favourite authors as travel companions, Every Third Thought, takes us on a journey through a year and towards death itself. As he acknowledges his own and his friends' ageing, McCrum confronts an existential question: in a world where we have learnt to live well at all costs, can we make peace with what Freud calls 'the necessity of dying'? Searching for answers leads him to others for advice and wisdom, and Every Third Thought is populated by the voices of brain surgeons, psychologists, cancer patients, hospice workers, writers and poets. Witty, lucid and provocative, Every Third Thought is an enthralling exploration of what it means to approach the 'end game', and begin to recognize, perhaps reluctantly, that we are not immortal. Deeply personal and yet always universal, this is a book for anyone who finds themselves preoccupied by matters of life and death. It is both guide and companion.
Every Third Thought is about how we approach and accept death.
Thoughtful, subtle, elegantly clever and oddly joyous, Every Third Thought is beautiful and - most of all - true -- Kate Mosse, author of Labyrinth I can't think of another writer who could display such learning and erudition with this lightness of touch. Robert McCrum seems to have read everything, but you never feel he's lecturing; rather, he is a delightful and amused companion. The subject of Every Third Thought is so serious, yet it's illuminated by such humanity and flashes of wit that the reader closes it feeling oddly comforted. Only a writer in total command of his subject could present all this so deftly. Every Third Thought is a constant source of wisdom and interest ... a gem -- Cressida Connolly A jewel of a book: our most profound thoughts, gracefully shaped ... thoughtful, humane and full of warmth -- David Bodanis Every Third Thought is simply stunning: a brilliant, wise, compassionate and consoling account of death and dying in a secular age. McCrum moves seamlessly from personal testimonies to medical case studies to recent developments in neuroscience. He asks profound philosophical questions about mortality, finitude and the unknown. A uniquely beautiful and significant book -- Joanna Kavenna, author of The Ice Museum A wonderful book, so personal that it holds you in its grip -- Rabbi Julia Neuberger
Robert McCrum was born and educated in Cambridge. For nearly 20 years he was editor-in-chief of the publishers Faber & Faber, and then literary editor of the Observer from 1996 to 2008. He is now an associate editor of the Observer. He is the author of My Year Off, Wodehouse: A Life (2004), six novels, and the co-author of the international bestseller, The Story of English (1986).