“The Leading Brain,” by Friederike Fabritius, MS, and Hans W. Hagemann, PhD, (New York: TarcherPerigee, 2017). If you’ve ever wanted to browse the self-help aisle of your nearby bookstore, let me save you the trip. Most of what’s there is empty word calories. What is of nutritional value has been summarized in a hundred or so pages in “The Leading Brain.” Theis an easily digestible summary of research and recommendations packaged for executives and professionals like us. The first two-thirds of the book focus on how to achieve your optimal performance, while the remaining third focuses on teams. You might not think about how our environment affects our performance or why surprise helps motivate teams. You will after reading this.
“Astrophysics for People in a Hurry,” by Neil de Grasse Tyson, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2017). For no other reason than you’d like to be the compelling conversationalist at your next party, get this. It is the lightest take I’ve read on the heaviest of subject matters. One can’t help but be fascinated by the universe we call home (there may be others, but you’ll have to get the book to find out). If ever you find yourself the victim of a bad outcome or serious error, reread his last chapter on the cosmic perspective. We all share a mere speck of dust as our home.
“The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact,” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017). The Heath brothers are back at it. This, which focuses on experiences, is closest to our daily lives in medicine. Patient experience surveys are ubiquitous, and more often than not, public, fairly or not. Fortunately, service experiences have key factors that are common and modifiable. In their usual engaging prose, they make those key factors easy to understand and hard to forget. They end each chapter fittingly with a clinic to get you practicing. You and your patients will benefit from what you learn here.
“The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine,” by, PhD, (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2017). This is a real treat: a good old-fashioned medical history spiced with a bit of gore. The story of Dr. Joseph Lister’s discovery of antisepsis is a compelling and critical milestone in our history. (Yes, the germ-killing mouthwash, Listerine, was named in his honor.) Dr. Fitzharris, an Oxford scholar on the history of science and medicine, vividly re-creates the world of Victorian medicine with its gritty and sometimes messy pursuit of the truth. Lister was mocked and ostracized for his controversial ideas on the role of microbes in surgical infection before he was lionized. In a year dominated by “fake news,” it’s refreshing to read a story about how truth not only wins in the end but also saves lives.
“Autumn,” by Ali Smith, (New York: Pantheon Books, 2017). At the heart of this eloquentis the deeply felt, platonic 25-year-long relationship between Elisabeth Demand, a 32-year-old art history lecturer and 101-year-old Daniel Gluck, who is living out his final days in a nursing home. Set in post-Brexit Britain, the book jumps back and forth in time touching on many relevant issues including xenophobia and neo-nationalism, art and beauty, and the ever-evolving definitions of love of family. Some of the most touching moments occur in scenes when Elizabeth and Daniel discuss art and literature and the profound impact it has on their lives. The novel has got me thinking … perhaps by better understanding art, we can better understand our patients and our roles in their lives.
“Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking,” by Samin Nosrat, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017). If like me, you prefer good old-fashioned cooking to meal replacements and food delivery apps, get this Click here to read the original article from Frontline Medical News. Though I don’t plan to dethrone my wife as our family’s chef, I am a much better sous chef after having perused this enlightening and charmingly illustrated cookbook. Ms. Nosrat, who learned how to cook at the famed Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., demystifies cooking by breaking it down to four essential elements: salt, fat, acid and heat. Master these fundamentals, and you’ll be able to cook good food just about every time.
Best Books of 2017
Here are the best books of 2017 as curated by Jeffrey Benabio, MD.
Ronald Epstein is a family physician, palliative care physician, writer, researcher and teacher of communication and mindful practice in medicine. His book "Attending" is the first book about mindfulness and medical practice, a groundbreaking, intimate exploration of how doctors think and what matters most—safe, effective, patient-centered, compassionate care—from the foremost expert in the field.