Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Medical memoirs and biographies continue to be hot titles that readers just love. It is not just the fast-paced emergency and life and death elements of the books that fascinate, but it is also the stories of medical school that tap into the long hours, academic and personal challenges and self-doubt. The Monrovia Public Library has some compelling chronicles of doctors’ lives.
One of the newest is Black Doctor in a White Coat by African American physician Damon Tweedy who tells his own story. During his beginning weeks at an Ivy League medical school one professor thinks Tweedy must be a janitor simply because of skin color. Dr. Tweedy manages to mix personal experience, social commentary, humor and revelations about what it means to be a doctor. Although not a definitive look at the state of race in medicine, this journey of one physician offers much to think about.

Author of the terrific novel Cutting for Stone, the Ethiopian-born Indian doctor Adam Verghese relates the time he spent as an infectious disease specialist in Tennessee in My Own Country. Although a small Southern hospital may not seem like it would have many AIDS patients, it indeed does and Verghese compassionately relates their stories and how he cared for them. This is a richly written book that will tug at readers’ heartstrings. 

Sometimes a doctor seems larger than life. That is the case with Dr. Paul Farmer whose story is told by Tracy Kidder in his Pulitzer Prize-winning Mountains Beyond Mountains. From a poor childhood where his home was an old bus to Harvard to working with the destitute people of Haiti Dr. Farmer is a healer whose life is highlighted by commitment. This chronicle of an amazing doctor is highly recommended for both individual readers and book groups.

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