Five Days at Memorial
What happened at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina made landfall? As the power went out and the city plunged into darkness and anarchy, the hospital kept running. This incredible book looks at the life and death decisions made by the doctors who didn’t evacuate the city. Physicians and several nurses injected the most critically ill patients with lethal doses of opiates and sedatives to spare their suffering. Was it wrong?
Mountains Beyond Mountains
Kidder tells the story of Paul Farmer, an infectious disease physician who has dedicated his career to caring for the poor, primarily in third world countries. (His work is what prompted me to pursue subspecialty training in infectious diseases). Farmer is humble, passionate, and idealistic—precisely the qualities we want in our healthcare workers. This book is frequently assigned on college campuses, and for good reason. I read it a decade ago and still think about it.
The Andromeda Strain
This is the book that sparked my initial interest in science. I read it when I was in middle school, and it opened the door to the fascinating world of Michael Crichton and medical mysteries. I dream of writing one of my own some day.
Never Let Me Go
My favorite novel has a tangential relationship to medicine, and it would be a spoiler to explain how. The writing is exquisite and the story is heartbreaking—and you’ll never forget it.
The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly
Medical books are hit-or-miss. The good ones affect me in ways that few things can, but many in the genre are hobbled by problems with tone or structure. (I review medical memoirs for USA Today and spend a lot of time thinking about how doctors convey their experiences). Here is a smattering of my favorite books about medicine—some fiction, some nonfiction—which are ones I just can’t forget.
Bookshelf curated by Matt McCarthy.
Author photo: © Nina Subin
Featured image: Ildar Galeev/Shutterstock