Thursday, January 19, 2017


Let's say goodbye to the best books of 2016. This is a last look at 2016 non-fiction, which you can find at the Monrovia Public Library.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

In recent years there have been some terrific memoirs by doctors, including the bestseller When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.  A driven med student, the author’s specialty was neurology - where precision, speed and endurance matter. Just as he was about to complete his grueling years of study and graduate, he felt a pain in his back. He had stage IV lung cancer; the doctor was now the patient. Completed just before the author died, this deeply affecting life story and reflection on his sudden illness and extreme decline asks “What makes life worth living in the face of death?”  His wife finished the book, her final chapter paying homage to an extraordinary man who wrote and lived with such purpose.

Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich
Henry Malaison is better known as Patient H.M., the latter being the title of a fascinating and disturbing book about how science gone rogue affected a man’s life. Mr. Malaison became an amnesiac, with minimal short and long term memory, because his epilepsy was treated with surgery that removed parts of his brain. Tracing familial and medical history, this amazing and highly readable book is subtitled Memory, Madness and Family Secrets and will be of particular interest to those who enjoyed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lack by Rebecca Skloot. 

Lindy West's Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman
In her memoir, a collection of her online and magazine essays, called Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, writer Lindy West takes on the world, and especially Internet trolls. A feminist and opponent of fat shaming, rape jokes, and anything that demeans women, Ms. West’s book is filled with great humor as well as pain. Her insight is thought-provoking and Shrill has been praised for discussing what is seldom spoken about publicly and for encouraging others to speak up.

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