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Stephanie Cajigal
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Top 2016 Books Written by Doctors

Stephanie Cajigal  |  December 19, 2016

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Slide 1

2016 Physician Booklist

Looking for a good book to curl up with this winter? These five books were all written by physicians and published this year. We've asked each author to tell us a little bit more about their book and why you should read it.

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Slide 2

Drug Dealer, MD: How Doctors Were Duped, Patients Got Hooked, and Why It's So Hard to Stop, by Anna Lembke, MD

In Drug Dealer, MD, Dr Lembke, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, explores the causes behind the opioid epidemic in the United States—which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has led to 16,000 people dying each year from an overdose.

Dr Lembke says her motivation for writing the book was to "give voice to the millions of Americans struggling with prescription drugs while singling out the real culprits behind the rise in opioid addiction." These include, Dr Lembke says, "cultural narratives that promote pills as quick fixes; pharmaceutical corporations in cahoots with organized medicine; and a new medical bureaucracy focused on the bottom line that favors pills, procedures, and patient satisfaction over wellness."

Image courtesy of Johns Hopkins University Press

Slide 3

Starved: A Nutrition Doctor's Journey From Empty to Full, by Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD

In Starved, Dr McTiernan, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, explains the circumstances of her difficult childhood that included transitioning from malnourishment to obesity to obsessive dieting.

"Many physicians have patients who struggle with their weight or with their relationship to food. I wrote the book to show the personal side of eating disorders," she says. "In my own research, I've seen study participants deal with challenges of changing their diet in order to lose weight—many of them had strong emotional connections with food that were difficult to change. I wanted to give voice to the struggles I had with eating disorders, and their origins in my childhood that was marked by abandonment and abuse."

Image courtesy of Central Recovery Press, LLC

Slide 4

Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human, by Daniel J. Siegel, MD

Dr Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry and director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, says he wrote Mind because "as physicians, we are taught much about the art and science of caring for the body, but very little about the mind of our patients, or ourselves."

"Physicians learning about the mind will be better able to care for their patients and even their own mental lives, reducing stress and enhancing well-being," he says. This includes learning about "research-proven ways the mind can improve immune function, optimize epigenetic regulation of gene expression to reduce inflammation, and enhance telomerase levels to repair and maintain the ends of our chromosomes."

Image courtesy of Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.

Slide 5

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, MD

At the age of 36, Stanford University neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles his life after his diagnosis and his quest to live a meaningful life in the face of death. Sadly, Dr Kalanithi died before he was able to finish his memoir. His wife, Lucy Kalanithi, an internist at Stanford, had the book published posthumously.

In an interview with Medscape editor-in-chief Dr Eric Topol earlier this year, Lucy discussed what inspired her husband to write the book.

"He surprised himself by entering medicine, and ultimately it was because he wanted to be face-to-face with people who were making those tough decisions and approaching their mortality directly. When he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer when he was 36 and a chief resident in neurosurgery at Stanford, those questions were no longer theoretical. They were deeply emotional and existential for him. As he was writing the book, he was asking questions about dying. 'How do I spend my time?' But those are really questions about living."

Image courtesy of Random House

Slide 6

The Gene: An Intimate History, by Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, DPhil

In The Gene, Dr Mukherjee author of The Emperor of All Maladies, delves into the origin of genetics and interweaves it with his family's own history of mental illness.

Dr Mukherjee, in an earlier interview with Medscape's Eric Topol, explained his motivation for writing his latest book.

"I'm interested in the structure of knowledge," he said. "How do we acquire it? Where does it break down? What are its consequences? What are the cultures that allow us to possess it and to grasp it, and where is it lost? How do we delude ourselves with it?"

Image courtesy of Scribner

Slide 7

What's the best MD-authored book you've read recently? Tell us here.

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