When I was in high school my Dad introduced me to a pair of books by Berton Roueche, The Medical Detectives. I loved them. They completely appealed to my love for mysteries and to my interest in medicine. The books are out of print now but if you can get your hands on them then you are in for a treat. They are fantastic stories of medical diagnosis and really outstanding examples of good non-fiction writing, regardless of genre.
However, if you can’t find the Roueche books (or even if you can) I’d highly recommend this modern version of medical detective tales by Jonathan Edlow. Similar to the last book I reviewed, The Deadly Dinner Party looks at how doctors go about making a diagnosis when confronted with a difficult or even baffling case. Edlow’s book is probably the better one for the layperson. The cases are more at the forefront of his discussions and his style is more exciting. I enjoyed both books quite a lot. The one by Lisa Sanders is probably the one that made me think more about my own skills and approach but the one by Edlow was more entertaining.
Copied from a previous post of mine, here is a list of other medical books that I have greatly enjoyed in the past:
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and In His Image by Paul Brand and Philip Yancey
Brand is one of my heroes. I reviewed these ruminations on anatomy and faith more fully here.
The Making of a Woman Surgeon by Elizabeth Morgan
Related to Brand’s books only because it’s about medicine and more importantly it was the other book that greatly inspired me in my teenage years. A very gritty-tale of a woman going through medical school and residency at a time when there were few women. I went through a period of wanting to be a plastic surgeon, largely because of this book. Probably most interesting to women in medicine to see what it used to be like.
An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks
Awakenings by Oliver Sacks
The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
Toscanni’s Fumble and Other Tales of Clinical Neurology by Harold Klawans
Or pretty much anything by Sacks or Klawans. I also went through a period where I thought I wanted to be a neurologist, until I discovered that I liked reading about neurology more than I liked doing it.
A Not Entirely Benign Procedure by Perri Klass
Harvard medical school as a older student and mother. Klass has also been one of the driving forces behind Reach Out and Read, a program that uses pediatricians to promote literacy.
Letters to a Young Doctor by Richard Selzer
The Medical Detectives by Berton Roueche
A collection of New Yorker articles, some dating back to the 1940′s, on epidemiology and public health. Absolutely fascinating.
How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
Also a New Yorker staff writer, Groopman looks at the way doctors make decisions and diagnoses. I found this one uncomfortably right on the money. It challenged me to be better at what I do and it would be good if it was required reading in medical school (along with Gawande’s books.)
The Language of God by Francis Collins
Collins is a devout Christian, a geneticist, leader of the Human Genome Project and the current director of the NIH. No book comes closer to matching my own personal thoughts about faith and science. It’s not an easy read and can be fairly technical, especially in the second half. An excellent read for anyone questioning whether or not it’s possible to be a scientist and a Christian.