My husband and I don't exchange holiday gifts. We don't not exchange them--we're not protesting the commercialization of the season or anything--it's just how we roll. There is one exception though: every year he buys me the annual edition of Best American Essays. Even though I could buy it myself, even though I routinely do buy books for myself, traditionally, he buys this one for me.
I love Best American. It always contains great writing from expected places like The New Yorker, Harper's, and The Atlantic. But it also features essays from lesser known journals with wonderful names like Normal School, The Hedgehog Review and Lapham's Quarterly.
This year's volume, edited by New York Times columnist David Brooks, includes no fewer than eight essays on medical themes. 8 out of 24! One-third!FULL ENTRY
No, not that kind of health/medicine books. If you were interested in learning more about how to go gluten-free, have clearer sinuses, or be less co-dependent, I have recommendations for reading--but not here.
Rather, I'd like to share with you my five favorite works of literature relating to health and medicine published in 2012. This genre is ever-growing, with new memoirs, literary nonfiction, and even novels and poetry collections added each year.
Enjoy--and do comment below or write to me with your own favorites:FULL ENTRY
Suppose 20 children and 6 adults died at a school in a very short time period. And suppose there were clusters of similar deaths, many of young, healthy people, around the country: at a movie theater, a shopping mall, a high school, a house of worship. Wouldn't you expect the Centers for Disease Control to get involved in trying to figure out why these people died and how to prevent similar deaths? Wouldn't you want your own doctor to do all he or she could do to prevent similar "outbreaks" from occurring in your community? Even if the cause of the deaths turned out to be complex, multi-factorial, and overlapped non-medical arenas, such as the law?
I would not have thought that such suppositions would be controversial, but they are.FULL ENTRY
Many years ago, I wrote this essay in which I wondered why I receive so few gifts from my patients in the holiday season. I was prompted to write the essay by the memory of my father, an orthopedic surgeon in solo practice, whose patients showered him every December with foil-wrapped bottles of booze, tins of cookies, and all manner of goodies, including a "World's Greatest Doctor Figurine." I speculated that perhaps dad's speciality, his age (I recalled only his 50s and 60s), his gender, his cozy office on the ground floor of an apartment building, and the era in which he practiced explained his patients' relative generosity. When I wrote the piece I was a young woman caring mostly for other young women in a large internal medicine group housed in a mega-sized, late 20th century hospital. These factors, and not my patients' lack of affection, surely explained why I went home every night with the physician's equivalent of a lump of coal, right?FULL ENTRY