Saturday, January 28, 2017

Top 10: Best Medical Nonfiction


January is Healthy Mind, Healthy Body month here at the Library and seemed like a great time to draw attention to the high-quality and highly-readable medical nonfiction that has been written in recent years. From memoirs about struggles with mental illness and baffling diseases, to a book about the use of cadavers in criminal forensics, below is the list of my top 10 medical nonfiction books (in no particular order):
Top 10: Medical Nonfiction Books
1. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
The Emperor of All Maladies, now a documentary from Ken Burns on PBS, is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence.

2. The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn Saks
A memoir of paranoid schizophrenia by an accomplished professor recounts her first symptoms at the age of eight, her efforts to hide the severity of her condition, and the obstacles she has overcome in the course of her treatment and marriage.

3. Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
A dramatic account of a young New York Post reporter's struggle with a rare brain-attacking autoimmune disease traces how she woke up in a hospital room under guard with no memory of baffling psychotic symptoms, describing the last-minute intervention by a brilliant doctor who identifies the source of her illness.

4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Henrietta Lacks, a poor, uneducated woman who is a descendant of freed slaves, and the development of the unique and miraculous HeLa cell line, which launched a medical revolution, saved millions of lives and generated vast profits for everyone except Henrietta or her descendants. It also raises the questions: Where are the blood and tissue samples we routinely give today, and who owns them?

5. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
A look inside the world of forensics examines the use of human cadavers in a wide range of endeavors, including research into new surgical procedures, space exploration, and a Tennessee human decay research facility. Entertainment Weekly raved, “One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year....Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting.”

6. The End of Illness by David B. Agus
Do we have to suffer from debilitating conditions and sickness? Is it possible to add more vibrant years to our lives? In the #1 New York Times bestselling The End of Illness, Dr. David Agus tackles these fundamental questions and dismantles misperceptions about what “health” really means. Presenting an eye-opening picture of the human body and all the ways it works—and fails—Dr. Agus shows us how a new perspective on our individual health will allow us to achieve a long, vigorous life.

7. The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths, teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues.

8. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon
Winner of more than a dozen awards, The Noonday Demon “takes readers on a journey of incomparable range and resonance," revealing the subtle complexities and sheer agony of depression. Andrew Solomon interviews patients, doctors and scientists, policy makers and politicians, drug designers and philosophers to describe the vast range of available medications, the efficacy of alternative treatments, and the impact the malady has on various demographic populations—around the world and throughout history.
 
9. The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
A journey into the mind of a remarkable thirteen-year-old Japanese boy with severe autism shares firsthand insights into a variety of experiences associated with the disorder, from behavioral traits and misconceptions to perceptions about the world. Andrew Solomon of The Times says that “The Reason I Jump is a Rosetta stone. . . . This book takes about ninety minutes to read, and it will stretch your vision of what it is to be human.”

10. Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher
Vivid, honest, and emotionally wrenching, Wasted is the memoir of how Marya Hornbacher willingly embraced hunger, drugs, sex, and death—until a particularly horrifying bout with anorexia and bulimia in college forever ended the romance of wasting away.





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