I’m a big believer that self-help books are a fantastic way of changing who you are
into who you want to be. That’s one of the reasons I’ve devoted my writing career to
the self-help genre. But I also believe that fiction books can play a fundamental role
in helping us better understand ourselves, the world and the people around us.
That’s what compelled me to write my novel, Financing Your Life.
I recently read Still Alice, the story of a successful professor diagnosed with early-
onset Alzheimer’s disease, and found it to be a great example of a fictional novel that
provided insight I might not have otherwise had.
Here’s the book description from Amazon:
Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a
cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics
with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly
disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life—and her relationship
with her family and the world—forever.
At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid depiction of life with
early-onset Alzheimer’s disease that is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as
unforgettable as Ordinary People.
What I Learned Reading Still Alice
As you may know if you’ve read my book, Alzheimer’s Legacy Guide, I am passionate
about fighting Alzheimer’s and helping families better deal with the financial
repercussions of the disease. But it wasn’t until reading Still Alice that I finally
gained insight into what it’s like to be the person with Alzheimer’s rather than one
of the friends and family. The frustration of being unable to access knowledge and
information you know you have is clearly and frustratingly conveyed in this book,
giving the reader even more compassion for those suffering with this disease. You
can feel the confusion, frustration, paranoia, dread and disappointment in a way
that’s as helpful as it is uncomfortable.
But this book did more for me than help me understand what it’s like to suffer from
Alzheimer’s. It also showed me how to be a more compassionate and helpful friend
and loved one to those who are suffering. In the book, some of Alice’s family
members are supportive and understanding while others tend to get frustrated with
her slipping memory, making remarks such as, “I already told you that” to questions
she repeats. This is especially frustrating to experience as a reader because you
already know that, to Alice, those prior conversations never even happened—so
there’s little point in bringing up the fact that the topics have already been
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand how to
relate to a friend or loved one who’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
At times sad, frustrating, encouraging and enlightening, it’s a novel that can change
your perspective and help you relate better.