As you probably already know, I have been on a serious medical memoir/medical non-fiction bender since early 2021. I adore memoirs, and I am interested in medical topics, so the combo of these two things? PERFECT. <chef’s kiss>
“This is Going to Hurt” is by far the funniest medical book I’ve read so far.
Several of you have asked for a list, so I’m putting it into this post, and I’ll keep adding to it as I go.
(My pace has slowed a bit since college began. But winter break is coming very soon, so I see some non-school reading in my future!)
If you have a suggestion for me, do leave it in the comments and I will see if my library has it.
Super short reviews from my trip through medical-memoir world
A fascinating look at all the odd things that can go wrong when people's brains malfunction. My copy was an older one so, whoa, the language he used in the last section was shocking; like, it was apparently acceptable to use "moron" medically! I think newer versions have a note about this but mine didn't. Terminology aside, I can tell Sacks really cared about his patients.
I did not love this one; the content was all right, but I thought it needed way more editing. The flow wasn't great, some of it felt repetitive, some of it was boring...and I think it could have all been fixed with some serious editing. Don't waste your time on this one; there are tons of other better medical memoirs to read!
Written by a mom whose adult daughter died of cystic fibrosis. I really, really felt her heartbreak as I read; to lose your only child to this disease after taking such good care of her for so many years...it was just a crushing blow.
At first, I didn't like this author! He seemed gruff and stuck-up. But as I read on, I began to appreciate his heart for his patients.
He's a neurosurgeon, and this was another book that reminded me that I want to be a nurse, not a doctor. A neurosurgeon in particular has SO much responsiblity; one tiny wrong move can ruin your patient's brain. That's too heavy a weight for me to carry!
The fascinating and sad story of how cells were taken without permission, from a black woman dying of cervical cancer, and have since been used to save countless lives. Does the end justify the (very iffy) means? Note: I watched the movie too, and the book was 1000 times better.
An entire book about a single nursing shift; more interesting than it sounds! I liked her Critical Care book a little better because there were more patient stories; this one goes in-depth with just four.
Hazzard spent years as a paramedic in a super gritty area of Atlanta; definitely not an easy place to work emergency medicine. This one has a lot of language; probably accurate to real-life, but you should know it's not a very gentle read.
Oh gosh! I’ve read most of these and medical memoirs is a favorite niche of mine too. Thanks for this list, I’ll add a few more to my TBR pile.
Wednesday 16th of March 2022
I wound up reading "A Thousand Naked Strangers" because it was recommended here and loved it. The author can really write.
I also loved "This is Going to Hurt." It's been made into a current TV series in England, which I'd love to see.
Monday 21st of February 2022
I love this list of books and the comments about medical memoirs. My husband was a retired neurosurgeon who had served on the USS Repose during Vietnam. Later in life he had an incurable illness and was close to the end when "When Breath Becomes Air" was published. He read it with great interest, after our daughter gave it to him, underlining the parts of the residency experience that resonated with him. For me, a nurse, these books are also so interesting about a way of life that requires such a complex combination of skill, judgement, compassion and commitment.
Monday 3rd of January 2022
I loved The Immortal Life of Hennrietta Lacks and Being Mortal, and thought about those a lot when I was writing my own medical memoir, Clinical Trial: An ALS Memoir of Science, Hope, and Love. Check it out on Amazon!
Tuesday 14th of December 2021
One lesser known book that I don't see mentioned, "Malignant: Medical Ethicists Confront Cancer" edited by Rebecca Dresser. My library didn't have a copy so I bought it used. It's a series of essays by medical ethicists who either had cancer or whose spouse had cancer and what they learned as a patient. In a couple of cases they had totally unnecessary medical tests that they knew were unnecessary but which revealed unrelated life threatening problems. So unnecessary tests save lives...???
If schizophrenia is of interest to you, "Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an Amercian Family" by Robert Kolker is great. It's a family of 12 children more than half of whom became schizophrenic. It also documents the evolving thinking about this illness over the years.