Every Third Thought
AS READ ON BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK
'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.
In the media
Thoughtful, subtle, elegantly clever and oddly joyous, Every Third Thought is beautiful and - most of all - true
Kate Mosse, author of Labyrinth
Every Third Thought is an important book, and one that brings death into the light, uncovering both the losses we have to endure, as well as the gifts we can receive if we are open to it. Profoundly moving and fascinating. It is a gem.
Julia Samuel, author of Grief Works
As an assemblage of great quotes and prompts for further reading, Every Third Thought rivals DJ Enright's anthology The Oxford Book of Death. McCrum adds striking metaphors of his own.
Blake Morrison Guardian
A wry and reflective treatise on mortality . . . fascinating and paradoxically enjoyable
Roger Lewis The Times