“No Cure For Being Human” by Kate Bowler


Book Nook Note: For this book review and all of my book reviews going forward, I have decided to stop giving a rating out of 5. If I’ve gotten something from a book, then that makes it a worthwhile read for me. So starting with this review, the books that I choose to add to my Book Nook will always be books that resonated with me, introduced a new idea, or got me thinking.

No Cure For Being Human by Kate Bowler is a book that got me thinking. This is a book about facing uncertainty, dealing with the finitude of life, and examining the narratives we hold. It reads as part memoir, part philosophy,  and part critique of today’s “best life now” advice industry.

This book is a reminder of how powerful reflection can be, especially when the life you have isn’t the one that you chose. In Bowler’s case, it was a prolonged battle with cancer that led her to question the illusion of control that we think we have in our lives and to examine the wisdom and absurdity of some of the common cliches we hold (e.g., everything happens for a reason, be present, no regrets, everything is possible, you are invincible, etc.).

I found No Cure For Being Human relatable on many levels. For one, I am someone who buys into a lot of the “best life now” advice and I definitely have a silver linings, glass-half-full mindset. I found it both helpful and uncomfortable to question some of those cliches. Two, I appreciated that Bowler was trying to reflect AND make sense of her situation at the same time. That brought me back to my own cancer journey. And three, I loved the reminder that life is not a series of choices and that our defining experiences are often ones we didn’t choose (hello pandemic).

The book can be best summed up in the appendix where Bowler lists 11 common cliches that many of us have bought into. She then gives us the eleven corresponding complicated truths we need to hear.