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No Cure for Being Human
Cover of No Cure for Being Human
No Cure for Being Human
(And Other Truths I Need to Hear)
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The bestselling author of Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved) asks, how do you move forward with a life you didn’t choose?

“Kate Bowler is the only one we can trust to tell us the truth.”—Glennon Doyle, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Untamed
It’s hard to give up on the feeling that the life you really want is just out of reach. A beach body by summer. A trip to Disneyland around the corner. A promotion on the horizon. Everyone wants to believe that they are headed toward good, better, best. But what happens when the life you hoped for is put on hold indefinitely? 
Kate Bowler believed that life was a series of unlimited choices, until she discovered, at age thirty-five, that her body was wracked with cancer. In No Cure for Being Human, she searches for a way forward as she mines the wisdom (and absurdity) of today’s “best life now” advice industry, which insists on exhausting positivity and on trying to convince us that we can out-eat, out-learn, and out-perform our humanness. We are, she finds, as fragile as the day we were born. 
With dry wit and unflinching honesty, Kate Bowler grapples with her diagnosis, her ambition, and her faith as she tries to come to terms with her limitations in a culture that says anything is possible. She finds that we need one another if we’re going to tell the truth: Life is beautiful and terrible, full of hope and despair and everything in between—and there’s no cure for being human.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The bestselling author of Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved) asks, how do you move forward with a life you didn’t choose?

“Kate Bowler is the only one we can trust to tell us the truth.”—Glennon Doyle, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Untamed
It’s hard to give up on the feeling that the life you really want is just out of reach. A beach body by summer. A trip to Disneyland around the corner. A promotion on the horizon. Everyone wants to believe that they are headed toward good, better, best. But what happens when the life you hoped for is put on hold indefinitely? 
Kate Bowler believed that life was a series of unlimited choices, until she discovered, at age thirty-five, that her body was wracked with cancer. In No Cure for Being Human, she searches for a way forward as she mines the wisdom (and absurdity) of today’s “best life now” advice industry, which insists on exhausting positivity and on trying to convince us that we can out-eat, out-learn, and out-perform our humanness. We are, she finds, as fragile as the day we were born. 
With dry wit and unflinching honesty, Kate Bowler grapples with her diagnosis, her ambition, and her faith as she tries to come to terms with her limitations in a culture that says anything is possible. She finds that we need one another if we’re going to tell the truth: Life is beautiful and terrible, full of hope and despair and everything in between—and there’s no cure for being human.
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About the Author-
  • Kate Bowler is an associate professor of the history of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School. She completed her undergraduate degree at Macalester College, received a master’s of religion from Yale Divinity School, and a PhD at Duke University. She is the author of Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, the New York Times bestselling memoir Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved, and The Preacher’s Wife: The Precarious Power of Evangelical Women Celebrities. On her popular podcast, Everything Happens, she talks with people about what they have learned in difficult times and why it is so difficult to speak frankly about suffering. She has appeared on the TED stage, NPR, and Today, and her writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Time. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, Toban, and son, Zach.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 28, 2021
    In heartbreaking essays, Bowler (Everything Happens for a Reason) recounts lessons learned after being diagnosed with stage four colon cancer at the age of 35. An associate professor at Duke Divinity School, she thought that everyone had limitless choices before receiving the grim diagnosis that pegged her survival odds at 14%: “Hope for the future feels like a kind of arsenic that needs to be carefully administered, or it can poison the sacred work of living in the present.” While mourning the loss of a future with her husband and two-year-old son, Bowler enrolled in a clinical trial for a new immunotherapy drug, and, miraculously, was one of 3% of patients to successfully respond to it. After searching her whole life for a “formula for how to live,” she writes, “cancer treatment had provided the clearest one of all.” Bowler’s strong faith is present throughout, though the writing, refreshingly, never feels overtly religious. More than anything, her convictions underscore the importance of living life on one’s own terms. “Someday... God will draw us into the eternal moment where there will be no suffering,” she writes. “In the meantime, we are stuck with our beautiful, terrible finitude.” Those in need of a wake-up call will find it in this breathtaking narrative. Agent: Christy Fletcher, Fletcher & Co.

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2021
    A chronicle of grief, hope, and courage. In 2015, when she was 35, Bowler, who teaches the history of Christianity at Duke Divinity School, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, with a very low chance of survival beyond two years. Years later, she follows her earlier memoir, Everything Happens for a Reason, with wise, wry reflections on living in the face of uncertainty. "The world I thought I knew before the diagnosis was hygienic, predictable, and safe," Bowler writes. Her new world was threatening, uncontrollable, and unstable; her research, writing, and teaching suddenly seemed irrelevant. Often, the medical community made her feel reduced to an integer, quantified and charted. Cancer, she increasingly realized, was a mystery, and repeated visits and scans led to conversations with doctors to discuss what " 'we' are learning" about the illness. Elated that she was one of few candidates for immunotherapy, she enrolled in an arduous clinical study, traveling weekly from her home in North Carolina to Atlanta, where she was infused with harsh, debilitating chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs. Every cycle of her treatment left her "grateful, weary, and, almost imperceptibly, weaker than the week before"--without knowing if, and when, the treatment would work. Above all, she confronted the daily specter of imminent death. "Everybody pretends that you only die once," she writes. "But that's not true. You can die to a thousand possible futures in the course of a single, stupid life." Bowler debunks the hollow clich�s that she has heard too often: to seize the day, live in the present, work on a bucket list. "Facing the past," she counters, "is part of facing the future." Like others who have suffered traumatic loss or illness--especially during the pandemic--Bowler recognizes that "so often the experiences that define us are the ones we didn't pick." A sensitive memoir of survival.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    September 1, 2021

    In this memoir, Bowler (history of Christianity, Duke Divinity Sch.; Everything Happens for a Reason) talks about receiving a diagnosis of stage-four colon cancer; this begins a series of reflections on the evolution of Bowler's illness and her emotional journey through the ups and downs of responding to cancer. Bowler's affecting narrative meditates on the things she's just faced; she also takes it as an opportunity to reflect on the past and the kind of life she wants for herself in the future. Bowler writes about all of it with good humor, occasional anger, and vivid honesty, when she's discussing remission, the toll of the cancer cure, and the incredible hassle of getting a disability parking permit from Duke because her physician didn't properly write the request. Most poignantly, she talks about dealing with oncologists who aren't straightforward with her about her diagnosis. Through it all, she survives, offering along the way fresh insight on life and chronic illness. VERDICT General readers will be engrossed by this heartfelt memoir of sickness, family, and recovery. The table that serves as an appendix of complicated truths is worth the price of the book.--David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia

    Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    August 1, 2021
    Bowler led a charmed life--a tenure track job at Duke University, nearly perfect marriage, and baby son--until she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Her first memoir, Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I've Loved (2018), dealt with the reckoning with possible death and with the saccharine platitudes that people offer. Her scholarly work on the prosperity gospel infuses the pages of this second memoir. What does it mean to ""live your best life"" when death seems all too close? Bowler observes that bucket lists have become a ""new form of experiential capitalism"" and ultimately a death-avoidant strategy. As she recounts the labyrinthine road of treatments and surgery, she finds love and joy everywhere, even as despair is never more than a hair's breadth away. Bowler's prose is adept at capturing the dialectic of life's ""splendid, ragged edges"" showing through. And she's funny, too. This is a gem for cancer patients and their families and for survivors, but really, for anyone who understands the terror and beauty of being human.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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No Cure for Being Human
No Cure for Being Human
(And Other Truths I Need to Hear)
Kate Bowler
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