• The Deep Places

  • A Memoir of Illness and Discovery
  • By: Ross Douthat
  • Narrated by: Ross Douthat
  • Length: 6 hrs and 2 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (246 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Editors' Choice

In this vulnerable, insightful memoir, the New York Times columnist tells the story of his five-year struggle with a disease that officially doesn't exist, exploring the limits of modern medicine, the stories that we unexpectedly fall into, and the secrets that only suffering reveals.

“A powerful memoir about our fragile hopes in the face of chronic illness.” (Kate Bowler, best-selling author of Everything Happens for a Reason)

In the summer of 2015, Ross Douthat was moving his family, with two young daughters and a pregnant wife, from Washington, DC, to a sprawling farmhouse in a picturesque Connecticut town when he acquired a mysterious and devastating sickness. It left him sleepless, crippled, wracked with pain - a shell of himself. After months of seeing doctors and descending deeper into a physical inferno, he discovered that he had a disease which, according to CDC definitions, does not actually exist: the chronic form of Lyme disease, a hotly contested condition that devastates the lives of tens of thousands of people but has no official recognition - and no medically approved cure.

From a rural dream house that now felt like a prison, Douthat's search for help takes him off the map of official medicine, into territory where cranks and conspiracies abound and patients are forced to take control of their own treatment and experiment on themselves. Slowly, against his instincts and assumptions, he realizes that many of the cranks and weirdos are right, that many supposed "hypochondriacs" are victims of an indifferent medical establishment, and that all kinds of unexpected experiences and revelations lurk beneath the surface of normal existence, in the places underneath.

The Deep Places is a story about what happens when you are terribly sick and realize that even the doctors who are willing to treat you can only do so much. Along the way, Douthat describes his struggle back toward health with wit and candor, portraying sickness as the most terrible of gifts. It teaches you to appreciate the grace of ordinary life by taking that life away from you. It reveals the deep strangeness of the world, the possibility that the reasonable people might be wrong, and the necessity of figuring out things for yourself. And it proves, day by dreadful day, that you are stronger than you ever imagined, and that even in the depths, there is always hope.

©2021 Ross Douthat (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“A harrowing, and often profound, account of how one man’s life can be laid almost to waste by Fate.”—Wall Street Journal

“Douthat artfully weaves two stories together. The first is the story of his own illness, the increasingly outlandish treatments he is willing to try, and the havoc the affliction wreaks in his life. As he looks for a cure, he uncovers a second story: the strange tale of Lyme disease itself . . . No two chronic illnesses are exactly alike, but even so this book will likely resonate with anyone who has suffered from a chronic condition or has cared for someone who has.”—Paul W. Gleason, LA Review of Books

“This is a great book and it’s going to be important and it’s about a lot more than Lyme disease; to this nonsufferer it made Lyme disease fascinating.”—Peggy Noonan, columnist, The Wall Street Journal

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  • 11-09-21

Excellent!!

A must read for anyone suffering or having suffered a long term and primarily unaddressed illness. His experiences are, unfortunately, a tale so many survivors may intimately relate to.
Highly recommend to those who are loved ones of those in the midst of such sufferings...

5 people found this helpful

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Beautifully written, informative, difficult story

Gorgeous writing, well-read by the author, tells a harrowing story of a chronic illness. If you’re a sufferer you’ll see yourself and your struggles portrayed as they rarely are: honestly, with little drama and lots of vulnerability. If you’re not, you’ll have an unparalleled window into its hell. In either case you’ll come away with a deeper understanding of the issues we face at the edge of medical knowledge.

4 people found this helpful

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This was heartbreaking

My baby brother has been suffering from chronic Lyme and bartonella for 6 years now. I never really understood how he feels until I read this. It was eye opening and crushing. He’s been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and depression and all the doctors dismissed him like a frustrating patient. He is only 24 and is in a state of hopelessness. Thank you for being his voice and expressing so perfectly all that he feels but struggles to say. We are at a very difficult point where we don’t know what else to do to help him. We are contemplating stem cell therapy now. The words you used were as if he was speaking directly to me. It pierced through me. I felt mixed emotions. Hope because you got better but despair because it requires a willingness to battle that I’m not sure he has in him. The first thing I did was call him and say, “ it’s not in your head. Everything you feel I finally get it. It’s not in your head. I’m so sorry we ever thought it was.” Mr. Douthat, I speak directly to you now. If there’s any way you can have a conversation with my brother and give him hope and guidance please reach out to me. Thank you again. I’m so glad you made it through.

Sophia Ahmad

2 people found this helpful

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For anyone dealing with debilitating illness

The author shares a deeply moving story of his painful journey with long term Lyme disease. It is both terrifying and hopeful. Ross wrestles with being in a place where conventional doctors do not have the answers and often blame the patient for the fact that the disease does not behave the way they think it should. His journey shows how alternative medicine has a place as wacky as it may seem. Finally, he ties his struggle with Lyme to long timer Covid and how the same mentality plagues the victims of this horrible illness. As with all Douthat’s books, it is beautifully written and leaves one with a great deal to contemplate as well as a great deal more compassion for those among us struggling with debilitating illnesses.

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Everyone should listen to this book

I am so glad.I heard Ross Douthat on a podcast and decided to listen to his book on having and attempting to cure his chronic Lymes Disease. Not just a description of the hell of this misunderstood and oft misdiagnosed illness, but also a deep explanation of the lengths we will go to heal ourselves. Douthat explains the spiritual, medical, and mental aspects of illness in a compelling and clear way. Thank you, Audible, for having him read his own story so effectively.

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Outstanding book

Fascinating book. The author’s harrowing personal experiences are expertly told. Full of insights into the experiences of those who suffer from chronic diseases generally, and the medical controversies involved in their treatment.

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A tale about modern medicine, without a happy end.

The author wrote a compelling story of his illness and attempt to recover. Things do not go well or simply for him.

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Great writing and story telling.

Ross did a really great job bringing me into his world. His word choice was simple yet descriptive. I really enjoyed learning about this fascinating disease that I knew nothing about as well as getting a glimpse into the world through the author’s eyes. I’m going to check out his other books now also.

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Riveting

what a nightmare to be so sick and not taken seriously by so many med. professionals.


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I enjoyed this book but wish he would have left politics out of it!

I found the book interesting and engaging but wish the author would have left his political feelings out of the book. Why would I care about his feelings about President Trump? I could care less about that! He could have used the book space to add more information on the subject of Lyme disease. I would have rated the book higher then. Nearly every new book the past few years the authors seem
to think we care about who you voted for- news flash- we don’t care and if I want to read a political book I will find one. Quit trying to “sneak” it into to every book. Move on authors!