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My medical memoir list + tiny reviews

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>

A stack of four medical memoirs.

“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.

Medical Memoirs

Super short reviews from my trip through medical-memoir world

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Robert Ranum

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.


Tuesday 14th of December 2021

Thank you for these!


Sunday 28th of November 2021

I don't often read this genre, but I remember enjoying Six Months in Sudan: A Young Doctor in a War-torn Village by James Maskalyk when it happened to catch my attention in my local library quite a while ago.


Thursday 25th of November 2021

Forgot to mention in my previous comment - did you know that BBC has made a TV series based on the book This is Going to Hurt? It supposedly finished filming, and was supposed to be released in Fall 2021, but seems to have been delayed since I don't really see any news since June.


Thursday 25th of November 2021

These are some of my favorites that I don't think have been mentioned: 1. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison One of the best books about mental illness I've read. The author has a PhD in clinical psychology and works/teaches at Johns Hopkins in psychiatry and behavioral sciences. She wrote this in 1995 (when she was in her late 40s) about her experience with bipolar disorder, and I think she's now in her 70s. 2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby The author was the editor-in-chief of the French "Elle". He had a massive stroke which left him completely paralyzed and unable to speak, with what's known as "locked-in syndrome" (I'm an occupational therapist and have seen people with this syndrome only a few times). 3. Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad About a young woman diagnosed with leukemia right before her 23rd birthday. Details her journey from the initial shocking diagnosis to remission and then trying to re-enter “normal” life.

Also, if you haven't read anything by Lisa Genova, you really should! She's a neuroscientist, so even though almost all of her books are fiction, they are very realistic accounts of various conditions such as stroke, Alzheimer's Disease (the book Still Alice was made into a movie, which I thought was great), ALS, Huntington's Disease). Some titles are Left Neglected, Still Alice, Every Note Played, Inside the O'Briens). Her latest book is actually nonfiction and called Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting.

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