Released on 12 July 2018.

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Every Third Thought

On Life, Death, and the Endgame

3.51 based on 46 ratings & 16 reviews on


As read on BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week

'Moving, intellectual and unsentimental. I think it will become a classic' Melvyn Bragg

'Thoughtful, subtle, elegantly clever and oddly joyous, Every Third Thought is beautiful' Kate Mosse

In 1995, at the age of forty-two, Robert McCrum suffered a dramatic and near-fatal stroke. Since that life-changing event, McCrum has lived in the shadow of death, unavoidably aware of his own mortality. And now, in his sixties, he is noticing a change: his friends are joining him there. Death has become his contemporaries’ every third thought.

And so, with the words of McCrum’s favourite authors as travel companions, Every Third Thought takes us on a journey towards death itself. This is a deeply personal book of reflection and conversation – with brain surgeons, psychologists, hospice workers and patients, writers and poets, and it confronts an existential question: in a world where we have learnt to live well at all costs, can we make peace with dying?

In the media

Marvellous . . . Every Third Thought is a reminder of the shadows on the grass, even at this time of year; that we shouldn’t be afraid of them, that in time they will come to enfold us all . . . McCrum's book shows us that we should grab all the living moments and live in them, while we are here.
Reading McCrum's book, with its jaunty, gentle, meandering style, is like going on a country ramble with an exquisitely knowledgeable yet modest friend, discussing the meaning of life. Although it's a slender work on a well-worn subject, it would be hard to find a more agreeable or erudite companion for the journey along the road towards life's inevitable dead end.
Literary Review