Dying is something most of us don't want to talk about.

However, discussing end-of-life issues with family and friends can prevent a difficult time from becoming much worse. That's the vital takeaway message of "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande.

In the book, Gawande, a medical professional, explores how our society deals with the elderly and the infirmed as they are faced with what are quite literally "life or death" decisions.

We learn how our medical system is designed to be aggressive in treatment, even though such treatment will often not extend the length of a person's life and will often certainly reduce the quality of their remaining time.

Breaking medical staff and, perhaps, your loved ones out of a mindset of "we must do everything possible" can be difficult, but if you and your loved ones have had frank discussions about what everyone wants for eventual outcomes, it can make difficult decisions much easier.

I encourage you to read "Being Mortal." Members of my family and I did and discussed the issues it raises.

Those discussions ultimately helped us all make better-informed decisions as my father neared the end of his life.

He passed quietly with the help of hospice at his home, where he was able to enjoy petting his dog, eating ice cream and watching his favorite sports team.

If, after reading "Being Mortal," you'd care to talk about it with others, consider attending the Oct. 4 meeting of Speaking Volumes, one of the library's book discussion groups, when it is the selected title.

Speaking Volumes meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at Old Worthington Library, 820 High St. At the group's Sept. 6 meeting, Rachel Joyce's "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" will be considered. Jessie Burton's "The Muse" rounds out the fall schedule Nov. 1.

Also held at Old Worthington Library are the last-Thursday-of-the month meetings of the Thursday Mornings book group; all start at 10:30 a.m.

This fall, participants will gather Sept. 28, Oct. 26 and Nov. 16 to talk about "Victoria the Queen" by Julia Baird, "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead and "One Child" by Mei Fong, respectively.

The Northwest Passages book-discussion group meets at Northwest Library, 2280 Hard Road, at 10:30 a.m. on the third Wednesday of each month.

Book selections for the rest of the season include "Killers of the Flower Moon" by David Grann on Sept. 20, "Ceremony" by Leslie Marmon Silko on Oct. 18 and "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" by Sherman Alexie on Nov. 15.

Steve Herminghausen is a lead librarian for Worthington Libraries.