A kind of surgical history

Under the Knife by Arnold Van de Laar Translated by Andy Brown I love reading books about medicine in all of its many disciplines, and books about surgery are often amongst the most fascinating. Subtitled “The History of Surgery in 28 Remarkable Operations”, this book promised a interesting take on the subject. In the introduction, Read More

Wellcome Book Prize Blog Tour

Today, it’s mine and Paul’s (Halfman, Halfbook) turn on the Wellcome Book Prize Blog Tour. Each day two bloggers are covering one of the books on the shortlist for this prize which will be announced on Monday. One will review, the other will host an extract, so head over to Paul’s blog (Halfman, Halfbook) to read a Read More

Wellcome Book Prize #2 – The Butchering Art

The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris This is the second of my reviews of books shortlisted for the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize, read as part of the shadow panel. Lindsey Fitzharris is an American with a doctorate from Oxford in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology, and a post-doc Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust Read More

The Wellcome Book Prize 2018

One of my favourite prizes of the year, the Wellcome Book Prize longlist for 2018 has just been announced. The Wellcome Book Prize celebrates ” the many ways in which literature can illuminate the breadth and depth of our relationship with health, medicine and illness.” The shortlist will be announced on Tuesday, March 20th, and the Read More

Review catch-up!

I’ve rather a large pile of unreviewed books I read in 2017 to catch up on, so today I have some shorter reviews for you… When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi I love medical memoirs, especially surgeon’s tales, but occasionally a book will come along that will knock you sideways. When Breath Becomes Air Read More

Year End Review #3: Non-Fiction

I decided to give Non-fiction it’s own review this year because I’ve read 20 titles – the highest number I’ve read in a year, making up fractionally under 15% of books read. This is a trend I hope to continue, for I’m enjoying non-fiction more these days, but as you’ll see below – the areas Read More

‘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

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

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

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

Sibling Rivalry, Love and Betrayal

The Heart Broke in by James Meek Meek, a former journalist at the Guardian, came to my attention with his strange but wonderful Russian novel, The People’s Act of Love which he started writing in the mid 1990s but wasn’t published until 2005, and subsequently longlisted for the Booker prize. The People’s Act was set in Read More

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

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

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

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