Summer is a great time to catch up on your reading — and we don’t mean that stack of medical journals on your bedside table. Here are nine inspiring books for anyone with a passion for health and healing.
The Doctor Stories by William Carlos Williams, MD
William Carlos Williams, pediatrician and poet, relates the experiences and moments of empathy he experienced as a physician in small town America in the 1920s and 30s. The compilation includes 13 short stories, several poems, and the essay “The Practice” from Williams’ autobiography.
Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach
American author Mary Roach writes about the science behind some of the military’s most pressing health challenges – panic, exhaustion, heat – and the research that has prompted state-of-the-art improvements. Along the way, she also explains just how far questions about diarrhea will get you with Marine Special Operations troops.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, PhD
Psychology professor Angela Duckworth explains how a combination of passion and perseverance – a quality she calls grit – is the true predictor of success in life. With insights from her research, she shows how this particular quality trumps talent, as well as how to increase your own grit. Take the quiz to see where you fall on the grit scale.
Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick by Maya Dusenbery
Through research, interviews, and personal stories, Maya Dusenbery explains how gender bias and the lack of research on illnesses that disproportionately affect women negatively impacts female patients.
How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman, MD
Harvard physician Jerome Groopman demonstrates the reasoning behind the decisions doctors make – the thought processes that lead to mostly correct diagnoses but sometimes incorrect ones. He also delves into what patients can do to ensure their doctors don’t miss the big picture.
Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande, MD
New Yorker writer and Harvard surgeon Atul Gawande’s first book is a collection of 14 essays written during his residency training that explore some of the larger ethical issues facing medicine: How involved should a patient be in his or her care? How can young doctors gain experience without harming patients? Divided into three sections — fallibility, mystery, and uncertainty — the book illustrates how doctors are human too.
Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinky, PhD
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Oshinky tells the story of Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in America, known for its historic medical advancements but also for its famous — and infamous — patients. In telling Bellevue’s story, Oshinky also chronicles the history of New York City and advances in public health.
Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy, MD
In this heartfelt memoir, Damon Tweedy describes the challenges he faced as an African American in the medical community — both as a physician and a patient — and how health disparities negatively impact African American patients.
Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in A Surgeon’s First Years by Michael Collins, MD
In this memoir of his years as a surgical resident, Michael Collins recounts his euphoria in being accepted at one of the most prestigious medical centers in the world, only to find himself feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. Far from the glamorous life people presume medicine to be, Collins recounts the real-life struggles he faced as a young doctor trying to do the right thing.