Updated: Feb 18, 2021
As with all reviews on this website, our goal is not to provide a complete overview of the book; rather, it is to examine how the book relates to the meaning of life.
The Meaning Of Life According To A Cancer Survivor by Mark James is a short book consisting of 28 pages. The book doesn't take the typical approach other authors take when addressing the meaning of life. In fact, the book has somewhat of a pessimistic undertone that is sure to leave some depressed, and others disappointed — as it is not your typical survival story. Some parts of the book include ranting about the illnesses of modern society and how these illnesses eventually cause a sort of mental dementia in the general populace. The dementia is caused by the constant pressures of capitalism and results in splurges on material goods — thus opening a hollow pit in the soul... or as the author would state, an empty sack of meat.
One could easily summarize the motif of the work as death. It is the one sure thing all people in history share, and the one sure thing all people in the future have to look forward too (at least in theory). In one section of the book, James stops to ponder, are all lives worth saving? Why save a life of an unhappy person, just so that they can go back to their unhappy life? Or as James would put it, what im saying is generally its pointless trying to fix something that is not really used to its fullest (throughout the book the author has numerous grammatical errors, e.g., using "im" in place of I'm).
James' philosophy on life can probably best be summarized by the two statements below:
1) You only live once (YOLO)
2) What if there is no point, what if every thing we do be it learn something new, build relationships, save a life or make a life, what if its all bull shit that has no point, what if all the people of the world are going around their daily business are all deluding themselves in to thinking their life has a purpose or point.
Here James even adds the quote, “Life is meaningless, when we take a life we take nothing of value.” - Brent Weeks. He also points out that up until a certain point in history, our purpose of existence was overtly obvious — to survive; and with this, the book ends on a rather dark note, talking about suicide as we have kind of lost our way. James provides a story about an individual who was about to commit suicide, but instead called a helpline and asked the person on the line why he didn't commit suicide. The helpline individual thought for a bit before stating that his spouse and children were his reasons to continue living. The person about to commit suicide responded noting that there was a point in life when he did not have a wife or children, so why not just commit suicide then? What happened next on the call isn't provided in the book.
The author does emphasize that people need need to face death directly. Once you have faced death, meditated upon it, the rest becomes clear. Yet, at the same time, the author has dark Nihilistic tendencies. Meditating on death may result in you wanting to leave your spouse, or job, or life in general. Overall, this book is riddled with grammatical errors every few lines. Typically I would ignore these in reviews, because every time I go back read my own blog posts, I cannot believe some of the errors. But, for a published book to be on Amazon, one would expect a higher quality. If you are looking for a quick read, which has a more pessimistic outlook on life, then go for it. But I didn't find much of interest here and the overall quality of the work is very low.
Overall - 2
Meaning of Life Relevance - 5
Uniqueness – 4