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Friday, March 18, 2011
What Are You Reading? Nothing! Nothing?
It amazes me that when I interview young physicians (future anesthesiology residents and fellows) and physicians-to-be (future medical students), their answer to the question, “What are you reading?” is almost always “nothing”! Oh, they quickly add that they are reading this or that medical tome to study for an exam and apologize for their lack of time to read for pleasure or personal development. Truth be told, I was the same in my younger years. I’ve learned, however, that there are so many wonderful books written, that were I to read but some of them, I would expand my horizons. Having learned this later in life frightens me for fear that I won’t have enough time to read nearly as many of these important works as I would have had I come to this realization earlier.

To solve this deficiency of literary exposure and personal experience, this blog is commencing to suggest books that we all could, and perhaps should, read. So I’ll start with a current best seller that you will enjoy and from which you will learn. (This means that you, in turn, will have to suggest books for others to read and explain why you think they should do so.) Cutting for Stone, Random House Inc. New York, 2009 by Abraham Verghese, MD, Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine is a most enjoyable work that portrays the psychosocial aspects of medicine which are so important for all of us to consider in our day-to-day patient care activities.

Cutting for Stone has been aptly characterized as “…a remarkable reading experience that explores the lives of a memorable cast of characters, many of them doctors; the insight the novel offers into the world of medicine, along with its wealth of precise detail about how doctors work, is unparalleled in American fiction. Verghese is so attuned to the movements of the heart and of the mind, so adept at dramatizing the great themes of human existence…”. The New York Times Book Review of Cutting for Stone connects the title to the Hippocratic Oath and exposes the doctor-patient/ father-son relationship to for the reader to ponder; the review also balances one’s thinking regarding this novel about medicine and interpersonal relationships and the authorship skills of Verghese.

My recommendation? Read Cutting for Stone! For those of you who have done so already, what do you think? Please tell us what other books our Page 2 audience should read.

Posted by Alan Jay Schwartz, M.D.,MSEd
Alan Jay Schwartz
About the Author

J. Lance Lichtor, M.D
J. Lance Lichtor, M.D. is a professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics at The University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is the web editor and an associate editor for Anesthesiology.

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