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Mourning in America

Monday September 24, 2007
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Death's Door: Modern Dying and the Ways We Grieve by Sandra M. Gilbert

Death's Door begins with a paradox: "The days that really live in our public memories aren't birthdays, they're death days. These are the days we're talking about when we say Where were you when ... ?"

Sandra M. Gilbert, prominent critic, poet, and memoirist, explores our relationship to death through literature, history, poetry, and societal practices. Death and the way Western tradition and American culture deal with it has occupied a great deal of Gilbert's thinking during the last decade. In 1991, her husband, a professor of English at the University of California, Davis, died after surgery as a result of a medical error. The loss of her husband was devastating for Gilbert, as was the difficulty of a malpractice suit that followed.

Gilbert talks about other people's comments after her husband's death: "There were doctors who would say, 'Mistakes are inevitable. It's no one's fault.' " More troubling were the people who would want to know what she had done wrong.

Death's Door is a wide-ranging volume described as genre-busting — bringing together elements of memoir, personal meditation, literary criticism, and cultural commentary. All throughout Death's Door, Gilbert returns again and again to her own loss as she surveys Western attitudes toward death.

Gilbert writes with a mastery of language, entertaining and inspiring her readers with an insightful and deeply humane content. This book explores, embraces, and dissects death, leaving readers with a clear understanding of grief. Death's Door is a book for anyone who wants to examine modern ways of dying, mourning, and memorializing that have evolved over the last century.

W. W. Norton & Company, $29.95 (hardcover)


From Staff Nurse to Manager: A Guide to Successful Role Transition by Christie C. Osuagwu, RN, MSN, MPA, FNP-C, and Godwin U. Osuagwu, MBA

Does traditional nursing education fall short when it comes to preparing nurses for supervisory positions? Christie Osuagwu, a family nurse practitioner and author, says, "At best, most BSN programs offer a class in leadership, while none is offered at the associate diploma level. Neither option effectively prepares nurses for the kind of challenges they face in managerial positions."

Osuagwu and her husband, Godwin, a business professor at Texas College, have combined their expertise in this practical guide for successful role transition. The authors begin with "Getting Prepared," a chapter focused on enhancing personal and professional growth and environmental changes. "Management Basics" describes the bones of any organization, along with managerial misconceptions. The book provides current information on ethics, politics, communication, and professionalism, using easy-to-follow patient-care models, balance sheets, a glossary, and a reference section.

From Staff Nurse to Manager is a how-to book without the theoretical jargon that often distances a reader from the subject matter. This is a must-read for any nursing student during his or her leadership semester, nurses who aspire to become managers, and nurses in supervisory positions.

BookSurge, $19.99 (paperback)


The Essential Fertility Log: An Organizer and Record-Keeper to Help You Get Pregnant by Suzanne Schlosberg Expert Reviewers: John Hesla, MD, and Andrea Speck-Zulac, RNC

When it comes to getting pregnant, timing and accuracy are everything. Not everyone has the organizational skills of a bookkeeper to keep track of the relevant details. Fitness and humor writer Suzanne Schlosberg designed an easy-to-use log for anyone trying to conceive.

Schlosberg's book serves as a portable fertility headquarters and a central place to track all the particulars — details about your cycle, signs of ovulation or pregnancy, test results and appointments, medication protocols, workouts and relaxation exercises, and your deepest feelings. You can keep the spiral-bound log handy at all times — on your nightstand, in your purse for visits with the doctor or acupuncturist, or on your desk for a quick reference.

This book is perfect for any nurse who works with obstetric patients. It's a tool for effective communication and collaboration between doctors, nurses, and patients and a way to navigate an exciting and sometimes bewildering process.

Da Capo Press, $14.95 (paperback)


Terry Ratner, RN, MFA, is a freelance writer for NurseWeek and Nursing Spectrum. E-mail Bookcase@nurseweek.com.