Fragile lives

‘Don’t go breaking my heart…’

Fragile Lives by Professor Stephen Westaby I love doctors’ memoirs and those of surgeons in particular. Stephen Westaby’s contribution to the oeuvre, while I’m not accusing him in any way of lacking humanity – far from it, his book is full of emotion and care for his patients – his approach to the challenge of Read More

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Wellcome Book Prize Tour – Mend the Living

  Today, I’m delighted to be the first stop on the blog tour for the Wellcome Book Prize 2017. This year’s winner will be announced in London on Monday 24th April – sadly I won’t be able to go to the ceremony – I’ll be doing my first aid training at school, instead of getting Read More

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The Horrible History of Historical Hospitals

A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities by J.C. McKeown I’ve been dipping into this book for some weeks since it arrived unannounced, and each time I’ve picked it up it has entertained magnificently. I took heed and  loved the warning at the end of McKeown’s introduction: For best results, read not more than two chapters Read More

wellcome shortlist

Celebrating medicine, the human condition, illness and health…

The Wellcome Book Prize Yesterday I was privileged to attend a lovely ‘Bloggers Brunch’ at the Wellcome Collection in London to celebrate the shortlist for the Wellcome Book Prize.  Let me tell you a little about the background to this before I describe the event. The Wellcome Trust, which was founded in 1936 is “an independent Read More

Direct Red

You need toughness to be a cutter …

Direct Red: A Surgeon’s Story by Gabriel Weston This slim book about becoming a surgeon is one of the best medical books I’ve ever read.  Some days as an interested bystander, I secretly wish I’d become a doctor – even a surgeon, but then seeing programmes on telly or reading books like this, I know Read More

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Quality debunking of poor scientific thinking

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre This is an important book with two main themes. The first is what really goes on behind medical trials – the placebo effect; how many trials are poorly designed; how their data is reported and manipulated; and then how the media takes it, twists it and sensationalises it. The second Read More

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When friendship is put to the test …

The Spare Room by Helen Garner Helen’s old friend Nicola is coming to stay with her for three weeks while she undergoes an alternative cancer treatment – everything is ready for her. When Nicola arrives, it’s immediately clear that she’s in a really bad state and that even though she won’t admit it, she hasn’t Read More

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Capsule reviews

Sorry – I’ve been extremely busy so far this week, so two capsule reviews for you of what I’ve read recently … Marching Powder by Rusty Young This follows the incarceration of a young black Englishman in Bolivia’s San Pedro prison for drug-trafficking. I would not have got this book if my book group hadn’t Read More