Friday, July 29, 2016

Summer Book Recommendations

Ah, summer. There's nothing like the joy of sitting with an iced tea and a book on the deck... or waiting in the dentist's waiting room reading tiny print from a reading app on your phone.

1. Vaccinated by Paul Offit. It was completely fascinating to learn about the early days of immunization. Even if you've learned the science before, reading about the social context is so interesting.

2. Overdiagnosed by H. Gilbert Welch. This book changed the way I look at my practice, every day. Welch is an epidemiologist and explains the principles in a very accessible way.

3. Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche, by Ethan Watters. A must-read, especially if you work in mental health. I see a lot of refugee and newcomer patients, and do some element of cross-cultural mental health most every day. It's challenging because our entire mental health assessment is rooted in the culture in which it was created, and the very definitions of mental illness vary so widely in different contexts.

4. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I know you are hearing about it everywhere. It is beautifully written and helped me reflect on medicine in a different way. "But if I did not know what I wanted, I had learned something, something not found in Hippocrates, Maimonides, or Osler: the physician's duty is not to stave off death or to return patients to their old lives, but to take into our arms a patient and family whose lives have disintegrated and work until they can stand back up and face, and make sense of, their own existence."

I was on a female memoir kick last year, and thoroughly enjoyed the following:

5. Julia Child's My Life in France. Transport yourself to France and witness the early days of her love affair with French cuisine.

6. Nora Ephron's books of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing were, of course, hilarious.

7. Laughing All the Way to the Mosque by Zarqa Nawaz. Zarqa Nawaz is the creator of the TV show Little Mosque on the Prairie. She diverted from her parents' expectation for her of a career in medicine and found her way to journalism and the arts instead. As a fellow Canadian Muslim woman, I loved hearing her always-funny perspective on issues she faced along the way.

8. I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile. A down-to-earth book about the real issues we face every day as mothers, I found it totally affirming to read.


9. On Beauty by Zadie Smith. "And so it happened again, the daily miracle whereby interiority opens out and brings to bloom the million-petalled flower of being here, in the world, with other people. Neither as hard as she had thought it might be nor as easy as it appeared". Filled with breathtaking passages but also dry humour and wit, On Beauty was captivating.

10. Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad. Following years of infertility, a young professional couple takes guardianship of a young child when their friends suffer a terrible accident. The struggles of being thrust into parenthood of a unique sort; with the same truth that we all live with - the uncertain future.

What books would you recommend?


  1. Love this post!!! I started a book club a couple of months ago and I hosted the first - I chose When Breath Becomes Air. I agree with you incredible book. I also read his NYT article and did you know his wife has a recent article in NYT? Nice follow up.

    Also read Nora Ephron but all others are new to me!! Thanks for the list.

    As for my current reading - I'm in the middle of two. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald and Scar/An Anthology by Erin Woods. Both incredibly powerful in unique ways and I found out I have a link to Woods - she is an Arkansas author who is a cousin of an OB/GYN I know so I got her e-mail and plan to connect at some point.

    I recently read The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran - highly recommend. In my summer queue is The White Goddess by Robert Graves and The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. But summer is ending so maybe bump those to fall queue:). Cause I'm a doctor on call this week. And a mother. And I've got two writing projects I'm currently working on so AAAHHH! That was a fun ah, not a scary one. Thanks for the recs to add to the list they sound wonderful.

    1. Great suggestions! I haven't read any.

      Yes, I did read both NYT articles... Powerful indeed.

  2. Excellent list! I am always looking to add books to my reading list, I am intrigued by quite a few here and will be adding them. I am currently reading The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. I placed that one on my reading list several years ago, just now getting to it, but glad I did eventually get around to it!

    1. That is an incredible powerful book. I highly recommend it!

    2. I've read that one too, well worth reading!

  3. The Book Thief, Being Mortal, Pillars of the Earth (for the beach :)

  4. I second The Book Thief - loved this - and now reading The Kite Runner which is very good. I'm always looking for the next book so thanks for this post!

  5. The fifth sacred thing by star hawk. Or parable of tbe sower and parable of the talents by Octavia butler. Epic science fiction w outstanding female lead characters.


Comments on posts older than 14 days are moderated as a spam precaution. So.Much.Spam.