For me, the hallmark of all my favorite books is that I enjoy reading them over and over again. Maybe years apart or for some I revisit them every year, but I always come back. If I like a book enough that I want to re-read it, I know it’s a classic for me. This is one of those books. Written entirely by a man bed-bound and paralyzed, Jean-Dominique Bauby, suffered a massive stroke and was left in what doctors thought was a completely vegetative state. In truth, his mind was intact but he could no longer communicate with the rest of his body, what is now known as locked-in syndrome. Yet through blinking and eye-movement alone, he wrote what is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. It is both his memoir and treaties on life and death and how he copes with the hand he’s been dealt. Translated from Bauby’s original french by Jeremy Leggatt, this short (only 131 pages) but poignant book will make every reader look at the world differently.
Bauby, Jean-Dominique. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death. Vintage. 1998.