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Stephanie Cajigal
Senior Editor
Medscape Women's Health

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Summer Reading for Doctors

Stephanie Cajigal  |  June 24, 2015

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Slide 1

Relax With a Good Read

Planning a vacation or just some relaxation time this summer? See what Medscape's Book Club, a group of physicians who regularly tell us what they’re reading, recommend enjoying during your time off.

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Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

"A remarkable journey into the freedoms lost, wasted, and gained by the multigenerational Berglund family. It describes the human condition beautifully and will help to make physicians more understanding of their flawed patients."

–Jeffrey S. Dover, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Yale University School of Medicine; Medscape Dermatology Advisor

Image courtesy of Fourth Estate

Slide 4

Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson

"An extraordinary narrative of first the moon breaking into seven pieces, and the end of the world, as seen from the survivors in near space orbit. It changes one's perception of our daily life events: What happens when all of life—all of it—ends except for those in artificial environments in space, who in the very near future will carry on alone?

Somehow, the book's even tone makes the events more real and profoundly unsettling. If we are in difficult, insurmountable times, what should we do? We are indeed the healers of the world's wounds, which keeps me up at night."

–Robert W. Morrow, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Family and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Medscape Family Medicine Advisor

Image courtesy of William Morrow

Slide 5

Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World by Walker Percy

In the future, the United States is engaged in a 15-year war and citizens are divided along racial, political, and social lines. Dr Thomas More offers hope through his "lapsometer" invention, which can diagnose mental states such as anxiety, depression, and alienation—that is, until it falls into the wrong hands.

"Walker Percy's novels always have interesting doctor-protagonists, usually a psychiatrist, like Dr Tom More."

–Nassir Ghaemi, MD, MPH, Professor; Principal Investigator, Department of Psychiatry, Tufts Medical Center

Image courtesy of Picador

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Epigenetics: How Environment Shapes Our Genes by Richard C. Francis

This is a book for general readers about the burgeoning field of epigenetics and the role of epigenetic engineering in the future of medicine.

"An absolute must-read to cut through the genetic, uh, overstatements."

–Robert W. Morrow, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Family and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Medscape Family Medicine Advisor

Image courtesy of W.W. Norton & Company

Slide 8

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

"A journalist explores the Indian underclass in a provocative and astounding narrative. The result is a poignant description of the lives of the ultra-poor in India. All physicians should be aware of the plight of so many in our economically unbalanced world."

–Jeffrey S. Dover, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Yale University School of Medicine; Medscape Dermatology Advisor

Image courtesy of Random House

Slide 9

Epic Measures: One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients by Jeremy N. Smith

Journalist Jeremy N. Smith tells the story of physician and economist Christopher Murray, who began the Global Burden of Disease studies to capture an analysis of how we live and die.

"In a comparison of 34 countries, the US ranked 27th for life expectancy. The problem: diet, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and physical activity. ... This book is important in terms of health standards and priorities. It has driven and should drive health planning. It's also an interesting biography of what can be done with enormous skill and passion."

–John G. Bartlett, MD, Professor Emeritus, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Medscape HIV/AIDS Advisor

Image courtesy of HarperWave

Slide 10

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–but Some Don't by Nate Silver

Nate Silver explores why certain forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, and from Capitol Hill to the NBA, are able to make accurate predictions while others aren't.

"A winner regarding frequentist analytics versus Bayesian. (So much for randomized controlled trials!)"

–Robert W. Morrow, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Family and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Medscape Family Medicine Advisor

Image courtesy of Penguin Books

Slide 11

The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes' Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant From Two Centuries of Controversy by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne

McGrayne describes the history of Bayes' rule, from its discovery by an amateur mathematician in the 1740s and the proceeding controversy, to its application today in DNA decoding and homeland security.

"Similar [to The Signal and the Noise], it's an eye-opener on statistical analysis."

–Robert W. Morrow, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Family and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Medscape Family Medicine Advisor

Image courtesy of Yale University Press

Slide 12

The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine's Computer Age by Robert Wachter

"A compelling narrative that offers a front-row seat to the promising, frustrating, thrilling, disappointing, and ultimately game-changing saga of the computerization of medicine, still in its infancy and stumbling headlong into its toddler stage. Robert Wachter, an expert on patient safety and quality in medicine, provides a fascinating perspective on the emerging and critical role of the physician in the new digital era."

–Eliot L. Siegel, MD, Professor, Chief, Department of Imaging, University of Maryland, Baltimore; Chief, Department of Imaging, VA Maryland and Healthcare System, University of Maryland Medical System

Image courtesy of McGraw-Hill Education

Slide 13

The Last Physician: Walker Percy & the Moral Life of Medicine by Carl Elliot and John Lantos

"A thoughtful book of essays interpreting Percy's thoughts on being a physician. Percy trained in medicine and became a prominent Southern novelist."

–Nassir Ghaemi, MD, MPH, Professor; Principal Investigator, Department of Psychiatry, Tufts Medical Center

Image courtesy of Duke University Press

Slide 14

The Man Who Stalked Einstein: How Nazi Scientist Philipp Lenard Changed the Course of History by Bruce J. Hillman, MD

"Academic politics gets vicious at the best of times. When it involves a Nazi scientist bent on proving ether and a Jew who showed a middle finger to ether, in a republic ailing from the economic consequences of peace, the viciousness reaches a new dimension. Bruce Hillman describes how Philipp Lenard, a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, sought to discredit Albert Einstein. Lenard derided Einstein's theory of relativity, tirelessly.

Lenard is an extreme case, but physicians will recognize mini-Lenards in our midst, who take their pet theories and research far too seriously, and who should, occasionally, be brought to earth with gentle levity."

–Saurabh Jha, MBBS, Assistant Professor of Radiology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Image courtesy of Rowan & Littlefield

Slide 15

America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System by Steven Brill

"Brill talks about the elephant that Obamacare missed: costs. The book, which is an extension of his landmark essay 'Bitter Pill,' describes the embryology and anatomy of the behemothic cost structure of healthcare. Brill explains the complex system beautifully, even if the reader is left wondering which simple solution will cure the cost disease."

–Saurabh Jha, MBBS, Assistant Professor of Radiology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Image courtesy of Random House

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The Doctor Stories by William Carlos Williams

This is a collection of the late pediatrician's poems and an autobiographical essay about how his patients influenced his poetry.

"[Williams] used to say that every day when he made house calls in Paterson, New Jersey, he would be put directly in touch with the daily lives of average people. He'd go back to his car, make some notes for his poetry about the faces he saw, the homes and lives he observed, and then move on to the next case.

...Much like Walt Whitman's work, he observed and celebrated the everyday experience of the average person. This was new and realistic poetry that hadn't been appreciated in prior centuries, a poetry of real life, with all its disease and suffering and resilience—not one of romantic imagination."

–Nassir Ghaemi, MD, MPH, Professor; Principal Investigator, Department of Psychiatry, Tufts Medical Center

Image courtesy of New Direction

Slide 18

We Want to Hear From You

What are you planning on reading this summer? Tell us here.

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