Checking Out – Nick Spalding

13 January 2019
Checking Out Book Cover Checking Out
Nick Spalding
Lake Union Publishing
March 22, 2018

What do you do when the doctor says you could die at any moment? Well...after you've made a cup of tea, of course. Nathan James is young, successful and has the world at his feet. Unfortunately, he's also about to die--which ruins things somewhat. And now he's staring imminent death in the face, Nathan is having to rethink some of his life choices very hard. This means embarking on a hectic journey of self-discovery that includes, amongst other things, losing his dignity to an inescapable bean bag, suffering screaming nightmares about a monstrous potato, and getting up close and very personal with a bipolar donkey. All of which is fine, but then Nathan falls in love with a charming girl called Alison, which is a really stupid thing to do. Because how can you give your heart to someone when it might be about to stop? From Nick Spalding, the bestselling author of Fat Chance, Bricking It and Mad Love, comes a comedy about dying--which is easy--and living, which is most certainly not.


Checking Out, is a funny-sad examination of a man dealing with an inoperable brain tumour and a very poor prognosis. The man is 33-year-old Nathan and he’s a musician and composer and has lived a pretty affluent lifestyle over recent years following a winning tune which hit bigtime. This carefree comfortable life is just about to come crashing down.

It may be crashing down in one sense but in another context, it is a hilarious, side-splitting comedy, with extremely clever observations and really witty dialogue. The pace is relentless and at every turn, Nick Spalding is creating another hapless and amusing situation.

If you love slap-stick funny then you’ll absolutely cherish this!

In this novel you’re not going to get poetic, lyrical writing but an enjoyable easy read. What you discover are vivid and observant descriptions of antics and situations that are just genius. The scene with Nathan and his new girlfriend in his home-recording studio is one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever read. I haven’t laughed that loud and hard since watching ‘Something about Mary’. My wife and kids came running to see what was happening me and I just couldn’t get the words out to explain. Don’t read this book on public transport or anywhere in public as you may get locked up as an uncontrollable slobbering idiot. Sudden explosive bursts of laughter are to be expected!

The last third of the book takes a gear change and the atmosphere alters to a more serious tone. Not sad, just more searching and reflective. Nathan needs to come to terms with his situation and the fact he wants to leave a legacy. What can he do to leave his mark on the world and satisfy his conscience? 

In a book with so much laughter, there is also a serious life lesson to be emphasised – we all make a difference, we all leave a footprint, we all matter! Nathan goes to great lengths to understand what a life of meaning would entail and set in motion events that will continue after he is no longer around.

This is a book I would highly recommend.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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