Reading List of Success
Reading List of Success
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. A reversal of roles: one day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. This memoir questions the meaning of life and if the long path of medicine is even worthy. The story spans from his life experiences in medical school focused on discovering and achieving a meaningful life, which can only be attained by learning the answer to the “question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life.” Kalanithi, used this search to become a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the resting place for human identity where he was forced to face his own mortality before achieving his life’s worth. How can you deal with a future suddenly pulled from beneath you? “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable reflection on the challenge of facing death, what defines a meaningful life, and on the relationship between doctor and patient from a writer who was determined enough to finish this book.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
This riveting dystopian novel set in the near-future New England totalitarian Christian theocracy that had overthrown the U.S. government (an interesting and tempting idea). This new Republic of Gilead allows only Old Testament style living and promptly denies women rights and greatly reduces many human rights. An intriguing take on the repressive intolerance that puts the Puritans to shame, this book reminds us all where tolerance, fanaticism, and fear mongering can lead. The story captured in the eyes of Offred, one of the Handmaids under the new social order. The Handmaid’s Tale is a satirical, horrifying, and fascinating novel that also acts as a warning in this contemporary time of rash judgements and borderline fanaticism. A must read before watching the TV show!
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, this novel about a resilient and courageous woman has become a Broadway show and a cultural phenomenon. After growing up in rural Georgia and being abused by her own family, the sister Celie always fought to protect from the same fate, Nettie, travels to be a missionary in Africa. Celie, without her best friend, is married off to an old and harsh husband. As an escape she writes letters to God over a twenty-year period. This journal demonstrates the growth and self-discovery of a young woman. Along the way she meets some remarkable women: Shug Avery, a jazz singer and simultaneously her husband’s mistress; her stepson’s wife who encourages Celie to fight for her rights and also her sister, who due to her husband’s jealousy, she doesn’t receive her letters. An inspiring novel demonstrating a rise over adversity and strength through hardship, this uplifting novel is perfect for any young woman.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells — taken without her knowledge in 1951 — became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. A must-read for medical students who owe much of their knowledge to this woman and her family!
Cutting For Stone By Abraham Verghese
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Being orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, the conjoined twins raised in Ethiopia in the home of two physicians. This thrilling novel tells the story of these two twins and their shared love for medicine but also the political setting of Ethiopia brimming on revolution. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. The two pursue medicine in two vastly different ways but cannot avoid their intertwined fates.
Still Alice By Lisa Genova
From New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes the definitive — and illuminating — novel about Alzheimer’s disease. Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At 50 years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life — and her relationship with her family and the world — forever. As she struggles to cope with Alzheimer’s, she learns that her worth is comprised of far more than her ability to remember. At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.