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Weekly Shhhout-Out

Roaming librarians file dispatches from the world of information.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Physician Writers: Writer Turns Doctor Turns Writer

We don't always choose the right occupation the first time around, or for some of us, a second or third time.  Have you noticed people often say, "I should have been a (insert an occupation)"? 

I know a lawyer who yearns to be an actor and an investment banker who yearns to be (gasp!) a librarian. We have heard businessman turned farmer, lawyer turned baker,etc.

What about medical doctors? Many of them want to be writers, it seems. Maybe that's what they would have become in the first place if they had had a chance. Anton Chekhov was one, and so was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Somerset Maugham, William Carlos Williams, Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, Khaled Hosseini, Perri Klass, Chris Adrian to list some. Some of my favorites are...

book cover image of Better by Atul Gawande Book cover image for My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor book cover image of My Own Country by Abraham Verghese Musicophilia book cover





Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande, 2007 nonfiction.
This is more than his notes. It is his eyewitness account and analysis on medical failures and triumphs

My Own Country: A Doctor's Story of A Town and Its People in the Age of AIDS by Abraham Verghese, 1994 nonfiction
Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone,  was a young doctor in Johnson City, Tennessee, when he saw his first AIDS patient. He wrote about how this conservative community tried to cope with the medical and spiritual emergency.

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, 2006 nonfiction.
Taylor, a thirty-seven-year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist, experienced a massive stroke when a blood vessel exploded in the left side of her brain. In this book she shares her unique perspective on the brain and its capacity for recovery.

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks, 2007 nonfiction
Author of many books on medicine and human behavior, Sacks wrote Musicophilia about incidents affecting the musical ability of some patients, sometimes in a very surprising way.

BONUS: Talking about prolific writer-doctors, if I may include another type of doctor,  Alexander McCall Smith taught Medical Ethics at the University of Edinburgh before he became a well-known writer.  MCPL has a wonderful recorded lecture series by him entitled Creating Humans: Ethical Questions Where Reproduction and Science Collide.

plum blossom in rain by Joy 


CATEGORIES: Medicine , Writers , Megumi L.
POSTED AT: 1:48:00 AM |
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Last edited: 11/6/2007