Why this book?
I don’t read a lot of creative non-fiction, but I loved this one. It’s a collection of essays that recalls the best of Joan Didion or Tom Wolfe. Minutely observed, crisply written, and suffused with a wry humor, it’s as much fun as a good novel. And the first essay, toggling between the author’s experience as a medical actor (item 31 on the checklist for how medical students handle her supposed conditions: “Voiced empathy for my situation/problem”) and two real medical problems she faced, is all about empathy. Much of the rest of the book deals with empathy too, at least indirectly: in James Agee’s photographs, and in the way Jamison herself enters into the worldviews of drug dealers, extreme marathoners, and participants in a medical cult. But the first essay is squarely on the topic, and it’s fabulous.
The Empathy Exams: Essays
Why should I read it?
1 author picked The Empathy Exams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.
What is this book about?
From personal loss to phantom diseases, The Empathy Exams is a bold and brilliant collection, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize
A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Essay Collection of Spring 2014
Beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison's visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another's pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade…
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