Fun fact: My daughter wrote her college essay on being a science and math kid living in a house of English majors. (If you want to earn a special place in her heart, ask her about the Unit Circle…or her new acrylic nails.) These past few months, she’s discovered a love for reading a very specific genre, what I’d maybe call “Medical Narrative Nonfiction.” For those of you who might have teenagers like her, or be like her, she’s been on a great run. In my newsletter, I’ve already mentioned that she devoured Hidden Valley Road (about a family with twelve children, six of whom were schizophrenic); but there’s also Patient H.M. (about one of medicine’s most famous patients, who was unable to form longterm memories after a corrective surgery went wrong); The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (probably does not need a summary but it’s about how scientists cultured cells from a poor Black woman — without her family’s consent, knowledge, or compensation — which led to some of the century’s most famous medical advancements); and (on deck) Empire of Pain, about the massive role the Sackler family played in America’s opioid addiction crisis.
When I wrote about this on my newsletter earlier this week and asked readers what she should pick up next, I got the most amazing responses and I wanted to make sure you all had the definitive Baker’s Dozen list. (There were about 35 suggestions in all.) It’s organized roughly by popularity — the first one on the list got the most endorsements — but I also had the resident book editor (aka, husband) in the house peruse the whole list to make sure we weren’t overlooking any masterpieces or Pulitzers.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman
Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddharata Mukherjee
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyou
Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
The Radium Girls, by Kate Moore
Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
Far from the Tree, by Andrew Solomon
Five Days at Memorial, by Sheri Fink
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks
The Premonition: A Pandemic Story, by Michael Lewis
The Tennis Partner, by Abraham Verghese
Thank you all for the suggestions. Can’t wait to plow through the list.
PS: By the way, if you want to be part of the conversation as it’s happening, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter. Every week, I send out one email called Three Things (2021’s version of the Project, Purpose, Pantry series), with a round-up of, yep, three things I think you’ll find interesting. In addition to reading suggestions, there are also my signature super simple dinner ideas, like this gorgey-gorge tomato tart that takes under five minutes to assemble. This part is all FREE. If you want book teasers and access to my hotline and podcast, you’ll have to subscribe for $5 a month or $50 a year. And yes, I’ll continue posting here on this platform, but not as regularly. Hope you’ll join me somehow whatever you choose!
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