I believe I first heard of this book on Mysterious Universe, if I’m not mistaken, and read it in audiobook format narrated by the author herself, which by the way is a medium of delivery which I believe is in fundamental and intuitive ways superior to the printed word. Having the author narrate her stories, thoughts and observations directly to you can create a powerful emotional connection, the non-verbal qualities of which should not be underestimated. The effect this one had on me was that of a profound book, which it is, but with the attributes of a captivating, paradigm-shifting motivational speech, TED talk or the like. I’ve had this experience before with The Power of Now and others that don’t readily spring to mind but are likely sitting somewhere on my audiobook shelf.
What makes this book special? Well, all I can say is that listening to what Ms. Doughty had to say about death and “our” relationship with it really made me think. We don’t cremate people in Greece, nor do we embalm them, but the fear of death is still something that governs most people and our lives to a degree we’re too scared to even consider. The way we treat our elderly and rob them from the right to a “good death” is definitely something we have in common in many globalised cultures. At some point, she said something close to “in 19th century Britain, nudity or sex was taboo; today, in what we consider our free-minded and progressive society, it is death is the greatest taboo of all.”
I’m writing this review from an internet cafe in Ioannina and I’m running out of time, so keep this: if you want to have your attitude towards death in general questioned and think deeply about the ailments of our necrophobic society, don’t miss Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. The writing was captivating, too; it took me just 4 days to finish.