Thursday, November 11, 2004

BOOKS I RE/READ MAY 2004

"Drinking, A Love Story" by Caroline Knapp
This book was a giveaway from the Addiction Counseling Office during my first year of med school, so if course I assumed that it would be preachy crap. It isn't. It's a very honest picture of addiction and recovery (like a less-funny version of Augusten Burroughs's "Dry", but equally harrowing), and it has a can't-put-it-down quality. I've read it at least six or seven times by this point.

"The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down" by Anne Fadiman
If there was some way that I could have the power to choose required reading for medical students in this country, I would choose two books: "And The Band Played On" by Randy Shilts, and this book. Fadiman's book took so much love and work to write, and is such an eye-opener, both to people working in cross-cultural practices and to anyone whose ever laid hand on a patient of any background. The story was particularly applicable to Pediatrics, I thought, though really practitioners in any field could find something to take away. And I thought it was interesting to learn about Hmong history and culture, because I never really knew much about the Hmong, only that sometimes people would ask me if I was from Laos in the typical attempt to classify my Asian-ness.

"Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss
Cute, a nice gift book, but nothing earth-shattering here. It's funny to see how lathered up she gets about punctuation, though. And it was a nice little grammar review. I was never very good at grammar in high school. I mean, I know good or bad grammar when I see it, but I can't parse a sentence to save my life (and I hope I won't ever have to).

"Walk on Water" by Michael Ruhlman
This was my month to read non-fiction, apparently. This is a good book for anyone who enjoys science or medical writing, but again might be particularly interesting for those in Pediatrics. It describes some of the cardiac anomalies and corrective surgeries in an incredibly clear way--really, some of the best explanations I've heard without help from a diagram. We have a Roger Mee-like figure at our hospital too (he's actually mentioned in the book), so it was interesting from that behind-the-scenes standpoint as well.

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon
This is a quirky little book--very different that what I thought it was going to be--that somehow avoids the pitfalls of authors who write about psychiatric illness. He could have been too cute about it, or condescending, or exploitative, or just downright tasteless, but he's none of these. It's touching and genuine (so far as I can tell, not being autistic myself), and I really enjoyed it. When I was reading it for the first time, I noted on the main page that "there are some books like this one that you enjoy so much, you just want to gulp them down".

"Singular Intimacies" by Danielle Ofri
Again with the medical non-fiction. What was with me this month? Anyway, I think it's a pretty safe wager that if you like reading all these medical blogs out there, and you like watching "Scrubs" on TV (not "ER," that show no longer counts because it is totally fake), then you will like this book. An honest and unvarnished look at what it's like to be a medical student and resident at a big city hospital, and the evolution from one end of the spectrum to the other. The thing that impressed me the most about this book is how willing the author was of letting us see her foibles. All her mistakes, her fumbles, her uncertainties, her ugly moments, she puts right out there before us. This is admirable. Personally, I would have had to seriously had to hold myself back from tweaking certain stories to make myself look better.

"Ghost World" by Daniel Clowes
My favorite Daniel Clowes book. It might also be a good way to break into the comics scene if you haven't read a lot about comic or are laboring under the misconception that it's all about Green Lantern and Batman. More of my opinions on "Ghost World" and comics in general in this entry.

3 Comments:

Blogger sarah said...

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November 11, 2004 at 3:10 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

the spirit catches you actually is required reading where i go to school (duke), or at least it was for my class (of 06). we all got a free copy in the mail during the summer before. i agree - it was really interesting. i wish we had spent more time actually talking about it (i think it sort of got forgotten once the deluge of basic sciences started to rain down upon us all. (sorry, i deleted it the first time b/c i tried to make the title underlined and it didn't work!)

November 11, 2004 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Hey, tell me about it. I've been trying to figure out how to underline the titles all day!

November 11, 2004 at 6:26 PM  

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