Mini-Reviews: Medical Non-Fiction

I like to read medical non-fiction. Not textbooks, but the kind of book a layperson with an interest can read, and someone in a medical profession may also enjoy, and learn from. There are three important things I look for in these books:

  1. Contributes to the non-medical reader’s understanding/interest of their health and/or bodies in an accessible and approachable fashion;
  2. Contributes to the medical reader’s understanding of patients, not just clinically, but also narratively (to me, this is what differentiates medical non-fiction from a garden-variety textbook);
  3. Is safe and accurate.

Below are short reviews of some recent medical non-fiction that I have read. Feel free to click through to my full reviews.

Fighting Chance by Sarah Zabel

Fighting Chance explores depression, its history, causes, and novel treatments. It explores how those treatments come, or came, to be; and offers insight into the difficulty of treating depression in a diverse population. Zabel is an excellent science writer, who has a clear understanding of her topic, and writes with compassion. Her approach will interest anyone with a scientific interest in depression, from layperson to medical professional. Read my full review here.

The Yoga Prescription by Cory Martin

Okay, so I thought this was going to be a lot more didactic, when in fact, it is mostly a memoir: one of dealing with chronic illness by embracing a yogic lifestyle. I enjoyed that although Martin offers guidance and advice, she at no point has an attitude of derision towards allopathic medicine. She recognises the limitations of formal healthcare and why an holistic approach is necessary, but she also takes care to note that she does adhere to her treatment, and that yoga is part of her multidisciplinary approach to her own health. Read my full review here.

Understanding the Heart: Uncommon Insights Into Our Most Commonly Diseased Organ by Stephen Hussy

I strongly disliked this book, and the only reason I pushed through the end is because I hoped the author would redeem himself. (He did not.) In addition to cherry-picking studies, his writing is very arrogant. He also supports many dangerous “medical” theories. This is a prime example of biased research, and I don’t recommend it. Read my full review here.

Good Sh*t: Your Holistic Guide to the Best Poop of Your Life by Julia Blohberger and Roos Neeter

I include this mostly as a joke, but also not. Most humans are fascinated by their poop (I worked in family practice for two years – I know). But this “book” is better termed an activity workbook, is short, and offers little of value to the layperson’s knowledge of poop. I would offer this as a free gift at a conference or workshop perhaps – but not spend money on it. Read my full review here

BONUS: The Perfect Vagina: Cosmetic Surgery in the Twenty-First Century by Lindy McDougall

My formal review for this will be published elsewhere, but this was an interesting look not only into the practice of female cosmetic genital surgery, but also what it represents in society. 

Do let me know if you find any of these intriguing – and especially what you think if you reading them.

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