The Best Books About Medical Mysteries And The Realities Of Being A Doctor

Guy Leschziner Author Of The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep
By Guy Leschziner

The Books I Picked & Why

The House of God

By Samuel Shem

The House of God

Why this book?

By equal measure, horrifying, cynical and laugh-out-loud hilarious. A satire on the realities of medicine, but illustrating a fundamental truth of what it is to be a doctor. When this book was published in the 1970s, it rapidly became a medical classic, but was despised by some as showing an overly dark view of the medical world.


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Cutting for Stone

By Abraham Verghese

Cutting for Stone

Why this book?

An absolutely beautiful description of medicine in Africa, set against the backdrop of political unrest in Ethiopia in the 1960s. For me, this book evoked very strong memories of my brief stint in a hospital in Malawi. Verghese’s writing is so evocative of the sights and smells of East Africa.


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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat And Other Clinical Tales

By Oliver Sacks

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat And Other Clinical Tales

Why this book?

This is the book that triggered my career in clinical neurology. A classic of the medical genre, a humane but deeply technical examination of the nervous system through Sacks’ own patients. Sacks’ own personality oozes from every page.


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When Breath Becomes Air

By Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air

Why this book?

The autobiography of a young neurosurgeon, his diagnosis with cancer, and his transition from doctor to patient. A moving discussion on mortality, and the gap between the idealism of medicine and the reality of its practice.


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It's All in Your Head: Stories from the Frontline of Psychosomatic Illness

By Suzanne O'Sullivan

It's All in Your Head: Stories from the Frontline of Psychosomatic Illness

Why this book?

For doctors and patients alike, it is almost impossible to understand how some of the most dramatic conditions we see – seizures, paralysis, blindness – may have an underlying psychological basis. In this book, O’Sullivan explains the basis of psychosomatic illness with skill, illustrating this area of neurological practice with fascinating case studies.


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