The best cancer books 📚

Browse the best books on cancer as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Mortality

Mortality

By Christopher Hitchens

Why this book?

Hitchens was a man on a mission with a razor sharp intellect. These precious words written while Hitchens was losing a fatal battle with cancer are fascinating and he touches on some profound ideas. I was especially struck by the conviction of a man who was a staunch atheist unflinchingly prepared for a godless death. Hitchens was not only witty, but inspirational and courageous.

From the list:

The best brief books on the art of living and dying

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Book cover of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Rebecca Skloot

Why this book?

There is a wonderful world of science writing out there, and this book is a great entry into that world. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is part science journalism, science history, and biography. Skloot introduced the world to Henrietta Lacks, a previously unknown woman whose cells have been responsible for some of the leading research and advances in medicine. In introducing the story of Lacks, Skloot, with obvious affection for both Lacks and her descendants, poses a number of important questions regarding race, ethics, and medical research.

From the list:

The best non-fiction books written by women

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Book cover of Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

By Terry Tempest Williams

Why this book?

Finishing out the nonfiction—though I leave thousands undiscussed here—is Terry Tempest Williams’ seminal Refuge: An Unnatural History of Place. Bold and original in its direct comparisons between the personal and the ecological, the memoir chronicles the deterioration of Williams’ beloved mother, Diane Tempest, to ovarian cancer at the same time their shared landscape, the Bear River marshes of the Great Salt Lake where three generations of the Tempest had gloried in birding expeditions, were succumbing to record flooding. The memoir also details the exposure of Williams and her mother—her entire family—to radioactive fallout from the U.S. government’s atomic testing…

From the list:

The best books to read about resistance

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Book cover of A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

By Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay

Why this book?

This is a quick and heartfelt read that explores loss, love, and truth. It centers around Conor, a boy with a sick mother, who is struggling with bullies in school. One night, a monster visits him, demanding his truth. Throughout their encounters, the monster tells Conor original stories that smack with all the weight of ancient fables. It offers a classic story-within-the-story that helps Conor understand his circumstances through new eyes and access a deeper part of himself

From the list:

The best fantasy novels that showcase the power of stories

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Book cover of Chasing My Cure: A Doctor's Race to Turn Hope Into Action; A Memoir

Chasing My Cure: A Doctor's Race to Turn Hope Into Action; A Memoir

By David Fajgenbaum

Why this book?

Imagine being a medical school student in the best of health and full of spirit and ambition, and suddenly being engulfed by a strange and mysterious illness that even the best of doctors in the most renowned hospitals are unable to appropriately diagnose, let alone treat. This chilling story of a doctor who literally chases his own cure is a great example of the much-needed patient advocacy that may often be required to diagnose and treat rare and complex conditions effectively. The author’s passion for finding the underlying cause of his disease (Castleman’s disease) and experimenting with innovative unlikely combinations…
From the list:

The best books on patient/family experience and advocacy in healthcare

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Book cover of A Breast Cancer Alphabet

A Breast Cancer Alphabet

By Madhulika Sikka

Why this book?

Breast cancer has become ubiquitously one of the most common and dreaded cancers among women. Through this book, the author authentically and innovatively advocates for patients like her, who are diagnosed with breast cancer. She describes her journey in detail in an attempt to guide and advise others on how to deal with and manage life in the face of such a deadly diagnosis. While patients may be overwhelmed by the medical management aspects of the disease, the author reminds us to keep the human and psychological aspects in mind as a patient is after all a human being with…
From the list:

The best books on patient/family experience and advocacy in healthcare

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