Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Reading

One of the readers of Asystole sent me a link to an article she wrote, "The 20 Essential Biographies for Medical Students".

I've only read two on the list, My Stroke of Insight and Hot Lights, Cold Steel, both of which were very good---especially My Stroke of Insight. Seeing the list made me wish I wasn't cramming for the USMLE* because it looks like a very interesting collection that I'd like to dig into, today!

So if you're looking for some medically related summer reading, check it out and let me know if / when you read any of them. Thanks for the link, Carol!


*Countdown is at 5 days and change and I am beginning to panic. Wait no, that's Panic with a capital "P".


Grumpy, M.D. said...

"Panic with a P" usually indicates urinary incontinence.

OMDG said...

I got sent that email too. I really doubt that she's actually a regular reader of *mine* anyway. I call advertising bs. I've been getting a lot of those types of emails lately, and they're really beginning to get on my nerves.

In any event, I really liked The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which was NOT on her list, and despised that Tracy Kidder book she included.


Albinoblackbear said...

Grump--but I'm not *in* Edmonton!! (the Capitol). :P

OMDG--Meh, I thought it might be but I liked the list anyway and am intrigued to check some of them out. Especially the Abraham Verghese one, I *adored* Cutting for Stone.

Funny, lots of people whose literary taste I respect have told me I HAVE to read the Tracy Kidder book.

Diving Bell was an amazing read, as was the film adaptation.

OMDG said...

Oh yeah, people told me that too about the Kidder book. I just thought it was very sanctimonious. It's very easy to get up on your high horse and tell others they should give up all their money and help poor people when you're banging Roald Dahl's daughter who is also paying for your work. Not all of us have that fortune.

OMDG said...

Sorry to be all down on the book. You may in fact love it. Lots of people do. If so, feel free to disregard my commentary. And sorry to be such a cranky-pants wet blanket.

Anonymous said...

I find that the books on those lists always fall into one of three categories:

1) "Shocking" exposés on how dehumanizing medical training/life can be (after House of God, everything is a pale imitation)

2) Life lessons learned from the work I did in Impovrished Contry X or with poor minorities/children with mental handicaps/kitties with feline HIV, that you could never really understand because you weren't there, man

3) An "aw-shucks" mea culpa about everything the medical profession does, and a declaration that if we only LISTENED and CARED more, medicine would be better off (see also Brian Goldman's insufferable podsast on CBC "White Coat Black Art"

...well, except that book about Henrietta Lacks. That was actually quite an interesting read.

Just an Intern said...

I liked the book "What should I do with my life" which is by Po Bronson and not really medically related but a good, general set of essays about people figuring out who they are and what they should do.

Then again I also like books like "One Fifth Avenue" and "The Bitch in the House" sooooo maybe I shouldn't be your book club buddy :)

Albinoblackbear said...

OMDG--Hahah, no worries.

IANH--It's true a lot of med lit takes those turns.

I can't speak for the ones I haven't read *but* My Stroke of Insight definitely does not fall into any of those categories. It's a very fascinating read.

Also, I am not sure if you've read An Imperfect Offering by James Orbinski (where he discusses his work in conflict zones) but it rattled me to the core. And he definitely didn't do it in a 'example 2' sort of way. It really changed how I looked at international medicine.

(As an aside--I *like* WCBA and just found out today that I am going to be interviewed on the show, so...) :P

JAI--Thanks for the suggestion! I am definitely going to check it out. Cheers. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, congrats! That's awesome! What's the show going to be about?

My beef with the show is that, like I mentioned before, he has such an "aw shucks" dismissal of anything that medicine does, and basically reduces complex, nuanced discussions about medicine in Canada into "docs are greedy/docs don't care/the government is inept". I recall one episode where he told a bunch of new residents (on the topic of sleep deprivation post-call), "I get it, you're more concerned about getting into a car accident than making a mistake about patient care; you'll change your tune when you mess up a few times", which I found to be rather insulting to the group (especially to one of the residents who I personally knew was an exceptionally caring and careful person). Just listen to his season finale show, where he tells people that the only reason you need your GP to refer you to a subspecialist is because the GP and specialist can both bill for a referral fee, while ignoring the fact that maybe, just maybe, you wouldn't be able to provide the same information in your consult request as, say, a licensed physician, in the same way that I don't try and write to my mechanic to tell him what I think is wrong with my car.

....sorry, went off on a bit of a rant there.

Never read Imperfect Offering, but I have met Dr. Orbinski once, so I'm sure I'll get around to picking it up eventually. A stroke of genius - that's the one where the woman chronicles what it's like to undergo a stroke, right?

Albinoblackbear said...

IANH--WHAT!!?!?!?! You *met* my hero, James Orbinski? So. Jealous.

I own not only his book but also the DVD of his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech (when MSF won it).

I never heard the WCBA show of which you speak but I have heard some really good ones about resource allotment, the $ MD's make, quality of life / end of life care, how nurses eat their young...etc.

My Stroke of Insight is about a Harvard neuroscientist who suffers a massive stroke at the age of 38.

The book details her stroke (which is unbelievable in itself--to learn what *that* whole experience was like, i.e her trying to call 911 with her dysarthria) to her perspective on her care in hosp, her recovery, and how it has completely changed how she views the world (in a major fundamental way). Really amazing woman, and read.

I'll keep you posted on the WCBA show, all I know at this time is that is has something to do with my "Unsolicited Advice" pieces...