Author Archives: Steven Oliver

Levi, Carlo. Christ Stopped at Eboli

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It was to Lucania, a desolate land in southern Italy, that Carlo Levi—a doctor, painter, philosopher, and man of letters—was confined as a political prisoner because of his opposition to Italy’s Fascist government at the start of the Ethiopian war in 1935. While there, Levi reflected on the harsh landscape and its inhabitants, peasants who lived the same lives their ancestors had, constantly fearing black magic and the near presence of death. In so doing, Levi offered a starkly beautiful and moving account of a place and a people living outside the boundaries of progress and time.

Publisher: Penguin Classics;
Year: 2000
ISBN-10: 0141183217

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Nicholson, Julie. A Song for Jenny: A Mother’s Story

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On 7 July 2005, Julie Nicholson’s life was changed forever. Her daughter, Jenny, was killed on her way to work in the London bombings, shaking Julie’s beliefs. With heartbreaking honesty and integrity, Julie tells her story of love, tragedy and heartache for the first time.

Jenny Nicolson was travelling to work when a bomb exploded at Edgware Road Tube station. Her mother, Reverend Julie Nicholson, struggled to comprehend the tragedy, her sorrow and longing for her daughter turning to rage and anger. Finding herself unable to articulate the three parts of the Eucharist: peace, reconciliation and forgiveness, because she ‘felt so far from those herself’, Julie made the difficult decision to resign her role as priest-in-charge of St Aidan with St George Church, Bristol, unable to reconcile her feelings with her position.

Publisher: Harper
Year: 2011
ISBN-10: 0007250819

Deraniyagala, Sonali. Wave: A Memoir of Life After the Tsunami

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The book opens and we are inside the wave: thirty feet high, moving at twenty-five mph, racing two miles inland. And from there into the depths of the author’s despair: how to live now that her life has been undone?

Sonali Deraniyagala tells her story – the loss of her two boys, her husband, and her parents – without artifice or sentimentality. In the stark language of unfathomable sorrow, anger, and guilt: she struggles through the first months following the tragedy — someone always at her side to prevent her from harming herself, her whole being furiously clenched against the reality she can’t face; and then reluctantly emerging and, over the ensuing years, slowly allowing her memory to function again.

Then she goes back through the rich and joyous life she’s mourning, from her family’s home in London, to the birth of her children, to the year she met her English husband at Cambridge, to her childhood in Colombo while learning the balance between the almost unbearable reminders of her loss and her fundamental need to keep her family, somehow, still with her.

Publisher: Virago
Year 2013
ISBN-10: 184408907X

Strayed, Cheryl. Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found

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At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s rapid death from cancer, her family disbanded and her marriage crumbled. With nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America – from the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, and into Washington state – and to do it alone. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line on a map. But it held a promise – a promise of piecing together a life that lay in ruins at her feet.

Publisher: Atlantic Books
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 1782394869

Hood Ann. Comfort: A Journey Through Grief

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In 2002, Ann Hood’s five-year-old daughter Grace died suddenly from a virulent form of strep throat. Stunned and devastated, the family searched for comfort in a time when none seemed possible. Hood-an accomplished novelist-was unable to read or write. She could only reflect on her lost daughter-“the way she looked splashing in the bathtub …the way we sang ‘Eight Days a Week.'” One day, a friend suggested she learn to knit. Knitting soothed her and gave her something to do. Eventually, she began to read and write again. A semblance of normalcy returned, but grief, in ever new and different forms, still held the family. What they could not know was that comfort would come, and in surprising ways. Hood traces her descent into grief and reveals how she found comfort and hope again-a journey to recovery that culminates with a newly adopted daughter.

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Year: 2009
ISBN-10: 039333659X

Paintings in Hospitals

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Established in London in 1959, Paintings in Hospitals now works across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They have developed a diverse art collection of almost 4,000 artworks and, as well as four artwork loan schemes, deliver art engagement projects and creative activities.

Paintings in Hospitals do more than simply put paintings in hospitals. They believe that art has an important role to play in the healing process.

The artwork outside the learning and resource centre in York Hospital and in the corridor downstairs is part of the ‘open store’ for Paintings in Hospitals where people can come to select artworks to loan.   

You can find out more about the organisation >here<

Osler, William. A Way of Life

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Sir William Osler (1849 – 1919) was a Canadian physician and helped found Johns Hopkins Hospital. He has been called the “Father of Modern Medicine.” This book is his explanation of how he achieved so much in his life and his exhortation for everyone who reads it to do the same. A Way of Life has been introducing people to his philosophy of successful living by way of “day tight compartments” since he first delivered the talk at Yale that spring Sunday afternoon in 1913.

For an online version this >link< to a copy from the University of Toronto works very well (and I have some sympathy for the bit or marginalia that you’ll find on the last page!

van der Beugel, Jacob. The Pathways of Patients

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Steven Oliver – January 2017….

In 2015 I was approached by Jacob van der Beugel in my role as a member of the University of York Epidemiology and Cancer Statistics Group (ECSG) research group. He was interested in an artists in residence scheme being supported by the University and in developing an art work that related to the work.  We focus our research predominantly on ‘Blood Cancers’ a complex mixture of different malignancies including leukaemias, lymphomas, myeloma.
Jacob came to visit our research group on 3-4 occasions across the year and met with researchers, laboratory staff, clinicians and patients.
He had come with an initial metaphor ‘concrete cancer’ which describes the situation where the integrity of concrete chemically deteriorates, potentially exposing structural metal reinforcement and leading to the failure of structures.
The work of the ECSG is broad in scope and we talked about many aspects of this – but the element that caught his imagination was the work we had done on the social patterning of survival for patients with blood cancers. Essentially, the fact that patients from poorer backgrounds have shorter survival – not unusual, but normally made more complex by the fact that poorer people are more likely to develop cancer, which isn’t the case for blood cancers.
We talked a lot about the processes and methods of observational epidemiology in which we seek to accurately represent patterns and distributions of disease in populations and some of the challenges that this poses.

An example of the way we’d normally present such patterns – survival curves for patients with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia by the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) for the area they live at diagnosis (1-3 more affluent, 4-5 less affluent)

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In the end Jacob represented both these ideas and the methods of epidemiology in a ‘diptych’ of two panels – one representing the ‘world as it is’ and one representing the way in which epidemiologists model observed data. He used concrete as an example of a medium that was associated both with high prestige constructions (when polished) and in cheap functional structures where the finish might be rough. He used rust to represent blood trails – and in a way we often use in teaching – showed the length of life by the length of the path.

In ‘Pathways of Patients II’ the shorter, ‘rougher’ experience of patients from less advantaged areas in our regional population is clearly contrasted with the longer, smoother, tracks of those from less deprived areas. The same pattern is present in ‘Pathways of Patients I’, but (as in a real population) the mixture of exposures initially obscures this. The ‘science’ of epidemiology is in part that restructuring of data to reveal the patterns within it.

You can see more of Jacob’s work at his website – this link will take you to more pictures of the pieces, and also some of the artist’s thoughts about it.

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Calvino, Italo. Invisible Cities

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In Invisible Cities Marco Polo conjures up cities of magical times for his host, the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan, but gradually it becomes clear that he is actually describing one city: Venice. As Gore Vidal wrote ‘Of all tasks, describing the contents of a book is the most difficult and in the case of a marvellous invention like Invisible Cities, perfectly irrelevant.’

Publisher: Vintage Classics
Year: 1997
ISBN-10: 0099429837

Berger, John. Here is Where We Meet

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No one appreciates the detail of being alive more than the dead. In Lisbon, a man encounters his mother sitting on a park bench who laughs with the impudence of a schoolgirl. She has been dead for fifteen years. In Krakow market he recognises Ken, his passeur, the most important person in his life between the ages of eleven and seventeen. They last met when Ken was sixty-five – forty years ago. The number of lives that enter any one life is incalculable. In this nomadic and playful book which travels through fictions across Europe, seemingly disparate stories reveal themselves to be linked, mislaid objects find their place and sensual memories penetrate the present.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Year: 2006
ISBN-10: 0747573182

Rendell, Matt. The Death of Marco Pantani

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On Valentine’s day 2004, Marco Pantani was found dead in a cheap hotel. It defied belief: Pantani, having won the rare double of the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in 1998, was regarded as the only cyclist capable of challenging Lance Armstrong’s dominance. Only later did it emerge that Pantani had been addicted to cocaine since 1999.

Drawing on his personal encounters with Pantani, as well as exclusive access to his psychoanalysts, and interviews with his family and friends, Matt Rendell has produced the definitive account of an iconic sporting figure.

Publisher: W&N
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 1474600778

Lansing, Alfred. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

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ENDURANCE is the story of one of the most astonishing feats of exploration and human courage ever recorded. In 1914 Sir Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 27 men set sail for the South Atlantic on board a ship called the Endurance. The object of the expedition was to cross the Antarctic overland. In October 1915, still half a continent away from their intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in ice.

For five months Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways on one of the most savage regions of the world. This utterly gripping book, based on first-hand accounts of crew members and interviews with survivors, describes how the men survived, how they lived together in camps on the ice for 17 months until they reached land, how they were attacked by sea leopards, the diseases which they developed, and the indefatigability of the men and their lasting civility towards one another in the most adverse conditions conceivable.

Publisher: W&N
Year: 2000
ISBN-10: 0753809877

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking Fast and Slow

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The phenomenal New York Times Bestseller by Nobel Prize-winner Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow offers a whole new look at the way our minds work, and how we make decisions.

Why is there more chance we’ll believe something if it’s in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast, intuitive thinking, and slow, rational thinking. This book reveals how our minds are tripped up by error and prejudice (even when we think we are being logical), and gives you practical techniques for slower, smarter thinking. It will enable to you make better decisions at work, at home, and in everything you do.

Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2012
ISBN-10: 0141033576

Leighton, Ralph, Feynman, Richard. Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character as Told to Ralph Leighton

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Winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1965, Richard Feynman was one of the world’s greatest theoretical physicists, but he was also a man who fell, often jumped, into adventure. An artist, safecracker, practical joker and storyteller, Feynman’s life was a series of combustible combinations made possible by his unique mixture of high intelligence, unquenchable curiosity and eternal scepticism. Over a period of years, Feynman’s conversations with his friend Ralph Leighton were first taped and then set down as they appear here, little changed from their spoken form, giving a wise, funny, passionate and totally honest self-portrait of one of the greatest men of our age.

Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1992
ISBN-10: 009917331X

Hope, Anna. The Ballroom.

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1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors,where men and women are kept apart by high walls and barred windows, there is a ballroom vast and beautiful.
For one bright evening every week they come together and dance. When John and Ella meet it is a dance that will change two lives forever.

Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, The Ballroom is a historical love story. It tells a page-turning tale of dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.

Publisher: Black Swan
Year: 2016
ISBN-10: 0552779474

Liptrot, Amy. The Outrun

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At the age of thirty, Amy Liptrot finds herself washed up back home on Orkney. Standing unstable on the island, she tries to come to terms with the addiction that has swallowed the last decade of her life. As she spends her mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, her days tracking Orkney’s wildlife, and her nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy discovers how the wild can restore life and renew hope.

Publisher: Canongate Books
Year: 2016
ISBN-10: 178211548X

Drabble, Margaret. The Dark Flood Rises.

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Francesca Stubbs holds our hand as we take a walk through old age and death. Fran brings us to drinks with her dear friends, dropping off mouth-watering suppers for Claude, her ex-husband, warm and cosy in his infirmity. She visits her daughter, Poppet, holed up as the waters rise in a sodden West Country, and texts her son Christopher in Lanzarote, as he deals with the estate of his shockingly deceased girlfriend. The questions of what constitutes a good death and how we understand it preoccupy this glittering novel.

Publisher: Canongate Books
Year: 2016
ISBN-10: 1782118314

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Leigh, Mike (dir). Vera Drake

 

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In 1950s England, housekeeper Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) is a kindly wife and mother who offers selfless devotion and unwavering care to her family, which includes her husband (Philip Davis) and two grown children (Alex Kelly, Daniel Mays). However, unknown to her friends and family, Drake provides abortions to local women with unwanted pregnancies. When the authorities learn of her illegal activities, Drake loses the admiration of many around her — and possibly her freedom.

Director: Mike Leigh
Writer: Mike Leigh
year: 2004

(Spoilers)

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McEwan, Ian. Saturday

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Saturday, February 15, 2003. Henry Perowne, a successful neurosurgeon, stands at his bedroom window before dawn and watches a plane – ablaze with fire like a meteor – arcing across the London sky. Over the course of the following day, unease gathers about Perowne, as he moves amongst hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors in the post-9/11 streets. A minor car accident brings him into confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive man, who to Perowne’s professional eye appears to be profoundly unwell. But it is not until Baxter makes a sudden appearance at the Perowne family home that Henry’s earlier fears seem about to be realised.

Publisher: Vintage
Year: 2006
ISBN-10: 0099469685

(Spoilers)

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Macdonald, Helen. H is for Hawk

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As a child, Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer, learning the arcane terminology and reading all the classic books. Years later, when her father died and she was struck deeply by grief, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She bought Mabel for £800 on a Scottish quayside and took her home to Cambridge, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals.

H is for Hawk is an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald’s struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk’s taming and her own untaming. This is a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to reconcile death with life and love.

Publisher: Vintage
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 0099575450

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Ross, Matt (dir). Captain Fantastic

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Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen), his wife Leslie and their six children live deep in the wilderness of Washington state. Isolated from society, Ben and Leslie devote their existence to raising their kids — educating them to think critically, training them to be physically fit and athletic, guiding them in the wild without technology and demonstrating the beauty of co-existing with nature. When Leslie dies suddenly, Ben must take his sheltered offspring into the outside world for the first time.

Director: Matt Ross
Screenplay: Matt Ross
Year: 2016

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Waititi, Taika (dir). Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family.

Directed: Taika Waititi
Screenplay: Taika Waititi
Year: 2016

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Bennett, Alan. Keeping on Keeping on

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‘I seem to have banged on this year rather more than usual. I make no apology for that, nor am I nervous that it will it make a jot of difference. I shall still be thought to be kindly, cosy and essentially harmless. I am in the pigeon-hole marked ‘no threat’ and did I stab Judi Dench with a pitchfork I should still be a teddy bear.’

Alan Bennett’s third collection of prose Keeping On Keeping On follows in the footsteps of the phenomenally successful Writing Home and Untold Stories, each published ten years apart. This latest collection contains Bennett’s peerless diaries 2005 to 2015, reflecting on a decade that saw four premieres at the National Theatre (The Habit of Art, People, Hymn and Cocktail Sticks), a West End double-bill transfer, and the films of The History Boys and The Lady in the Van.

There’s a provocative sermon on private education given before the University at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, and ‘Baffled at a Bookcase’ offers a passionate defence of the public library. The book includes Denmark Hill, a darkly comic radio play set in suburban south London, as well as Bennett’s reflections on a quarter of a century’s collaboration with Nicholas Hytner. This is an engaging, humane, sharp, funny and unforgettable record of life according to the inimitable Alan Bennett.

Publisher: Profile Faber
Year: 2016
ISBN-10: 1781256497

Genova, Lisa. Left Neglected

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The moving second novel from the author of international hit Still Alice, which explores the life of a woman struck by a brain disorder, Left Neglect

‘I think some small part of me knew I was living an unsustainable life. Every now and then, it would whisper, slow down. You don’t need all this.’

Sarah Nickerson has it all: a high-flying career, a loving husband and children, a second home. But does she have time to enjoy it? Too busy to pay full attention, can she see what’s left neglected?

One fateful day while driving to work, Sarah looks away from the road for one second too long. In the blink of an eye, her overfull life comes to a screeching halt. In the wake of a devastating accident that affects her body and mind in surprising ways, it’s time for her to choose: who does she really want to be?

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Year: 2011
ISBN-10: 1849835721

Perry, Sarah. The Essex Serpent

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London 1893. When Cora Seaborne’s husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one, and she never suited the role of society wife. Accompanied by her son Francis – a curious, obsessive boy – she leaves town for Essex, where she hopes fresh air and open space will provide the refuge they need.

When they take lodgings in Colchester, rumours reach them from further up the estuary that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, is immediately enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a previously undiscovered species. As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter’s vicar.

Like Cora, Will is deeply suspicious of the rumours, but he thinks they are founded on moral panic, a flight from real faith. As he tries to calm his parishioners, he and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart, eventually changing each other’s lives in ways entirely unexpected.

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
Year: 2016
ISBN-10: 178125544X

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O’Sullivan, Suzanne. It’s All in Your Head: Stories from the Frontline of Psychosomatic Illness

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Pauline first became ill when she was fifteen. What seemed to be a urinary infection became joint pain, then life-threatening appendicitis. After a routine operation Pauline lost all the strength in her legs. Shortly afterwards, convulsions started. But Pauline’s tests are normal: her symptoms seem to have no physical cause whatsoever.

This may be an extreme case, but Pauline is not alone. As many as a third of people visiting their GP have symptoms that are medically unexplained. In most, an emotional root is suspected which is often the last thing a patient wants to hear and a doctor to say.

We accept our hearts can flutter with excitement and our brows can sweat with nerves, but on this journey into the very real world of psychosomatic illness, Suzanne O’Sullivan finds the secrets we are all capable of keeping from ourselves.

Publisher: Vintage
Year: 2016
ISBN-10: 0099597853

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Conner, TD. Nazi Medical Experiments

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Nazism cursed the European continent and tried to dominate the world. It was a racist dogma established and enforced by ruthless bullies and brutal criminals. Before Adolf Hitler was crushed, 60 million people died. Nazis murdered people around the clock on their treadmills-of-death after developing fast, modern ways to kill large masses of human beings quickly. They extended their cruelties into the realm of medicine, grinning doctors–many of them once distinguished professors with advanced degrees– torturing thousands, including children, to death in grisly ways in filthy back rooms in the many Nazi camps or in special murder “clinics.” This book discusses some of the hideous crimes against humanity they committed, all with a clear conscience and without a second thought. There is also a section on medical “experiments” and atrocities carried out, even in the days of the 21st Century, in a developed country near you.

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Schmidt, Ulf. Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments

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From the early 1990s, allegations that servicemen had been duped into taking part in trials with toxic agents at top-secret Allied research facilities throughout the twentieth century featured with ever greater frequency in the media. In Britain, a whole army of over 21,000 soldiers had participated in secret experiments between 1939 and 1989. Some remembered their stay as harmless, but there were many for whom the experience had been all but pleasant, sometimes harmful, and in isolated cases deadly.

Publisher: OUP Oxford
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 019929979X

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Porter, Max. Grief is the Thing with Feathers

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In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother’s sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness.

In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow – antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This sentimental bird is drawn to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him.

Publisher: Faber & Faber
Year: 2016;
ISBN-10: 0571327230

Tremain, Rose. The Gustav Sonata

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What is the difference between friendship and love? Or between neutrality and commitment? Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in ‘neutral’ Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem a distant echo. But Gustav’s father has mysteriously died, and his adored mother Emilie is strangely cold and indifferent to him. Gustav’s childhood is spent in lonely isolation, his only toy a tin train with painted passengers staring blankly from the carriage windows.

As time goes on, an intense friendship with a boy of his own age, Anton Zwiebel, begins to define Gustav’s life. Jewish and mercurial, a talented pianist tortured by nerves when he has to play in public, Anton fails to understand how deeply and irrevocably his life and Gustav’s are entwined.

Fierce, astringent, profoundly tender, Rose Tremain’s beautifully orchestrated novel asks the question, what does it do to a person, or to a country, to pursue an eternal quest for neutrality, and self-mastery, while all life’s hopes and passions continually press upon the borders and beat upon the gate.

Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Year: 2016
ISBN-10: 1784740039

Hustvedt, Siri. What I have loved

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In 1975 art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a New York gallery. He buys the work, tracks down its creator, Bill Weschler, and the two men embark on a life-long friendship.

This is the story of their intense and troubled relationship, of the women in their lives and their work, of art and hysteria, love and seduction and their sons – born the same year but whose lives take very different paths.

Publisher: Sceptre
Year: 2004
ISBN-10: 0340682388

Dawkins, Richard (ed). The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing

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Selected and introduced by Richard Dawkins, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing is a celebration of the finest writing by scientists for a wider audience – revealing that many of the best scientists have displayed as much imagination and skill with the pen as they have in the laboratory.

This is a rich and vibrant collection that captures the poetry and excitement of communicating scientific understanding and scientific effort from 1900 to the present day. Professor Dawkins has included writing from a diverse range of scientists, some of whom need no introduction, and some of whose works have become modern classics, while others may be less familiar – but all convey the passion of great scientists writing about their science.

Publisher: OUP Oxford
Year: 2009
ISBN-10: 0199216819

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Martel, Yann. The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios

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Inventive in form and timeless in content, each story is moving and thought-provoking. A Canadian university student visiting Washington, D.C., experiences the Vietnam War through an intense musical encounter. Variations of a warden’s letter to the mother of a man he has just executed reveal how each life is contained in its end. A young man’s fascination with the mirror-making machine he finds in his grandmother’s attic is juxtaposed with the reminiscences it evokes from his grandmother. And, in the exquisite title story, a young man dying of AIDS joins his friend in fashioning a story of the Roccamatio family of Helsinki, set against the yearly march of the twentieth century.

Publisher: Canongate Books
Year: 2005
ISBN-10: 1841956120

 

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World

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Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress…

Huxley’s ingenious fantasy of the future sheds a blazing light on the present and is considered to be his most enduring masterpiece.

Publisher: Vintage Classics
Year: 2007
ISBN-10: 0099518473

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Hodler, Ferdinand. The Dying Valentine Godé-Darel

We have to take a good hard look at our own attitude toward death and dying before we can sit quietly and without anxiety next to a terminally ill patient.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

This quote refaces the attached article:
Looking at the Dying Patient: The Ferdinand Hodler Paintings of Valentine Godé-Darel
Pestalozzi BC. Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 20, No 7 (April 1), 2002: pp 1948-1950

The Swiss artist Ferdinand Hodler created a sequence of paintings documenting the death of his young lover Valentine. In the words of the article author ‘He created a series of paintings that force the viewer to face the process of dying. It may be helpful to an oncologist to sense his or her reaction to these visual stages of suffering.

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Click on the article for more of the sequence of paintings…

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Oppenheimer, Joshua; Anonymous (dirs). The Act of Killing

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A documentary which challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.

NOTE OF INTENTION

By director Joshua Oppenheimer

The Act of Killing reveals why violence we hope would be unimaginable is not only imagined, but also routinely performed. It is an effort to understand the moral vacuum that makes it possible for perpetrators of genocide to be celebrated on public television with cheers and smiles. It is a call to reexamine easy reassurances that we are the good guys fighting the bad guys, just because we say so.

Some viewers may desire resolution by the end of the film, a successful struggle for justice that results in changes in the balance of power, human rights tribunals, reparations, and official apologies. The film alone cannot create these changes, but this desire has been our inspiration as well, as we seek to shed light on the darkest chapters of both the local and global human story, and to express the real costs of blindness, expedience, and an inability to control greed and the hunger for power in an increasingly unified world society. This is not a story about Indonesia. This is a story about us all.

Directed: Joshua Oppenheimer
Produced:  Signe Byrge Sørensen
Cinematography: Anonymous, Carlos Arango de Montis, Lars Skree
Production company: Final Cut for Real, DK
Year: 2013

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Krishnan, Tinge (dir). Shadowscan

Two junior NHS workers are in the middle of a night shift and dealing with it in different ways. Satinda is tired and put upon while Amir is seemingly cheerful and helps pick her up. However Amir is also depressed and using drugs and self harm to help him get by. Eventually they both have to decide how to deal with their stressful lives and to live with the consequences.

The BAFTA award-winning Shadowscan (Channel 4, 18/12/2001) is director Tinge Krishnan‘s third short film. A surreal portrait of the Accident and Emergency department of a city hospital, Shadowscan is partly based on Tinge’s own experience as a junior doctor.

Director:    Tinge Krishnan
Production Company:    Disruptive
Producers:   Gary A. Holding,  Justine Leahy
Script:    Tinge Krishnan
Director of Photography:  Robbie Ryan
Year: 2001

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Yu, Charles. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

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With only TAMMY – a slightly tearful computer with self-esteem issues – a software boss called Phil – Microsoft Middle Manager 3.0 – and an imaginary dog called Ed for company, fixing time machines is a lonely business and Charles Yu is stuck in a rut. He’s spent the better part of a decade navel-gazing, spying on 39 different versions of himself in alternate universes (and discovered that 35 of them are total jerks). And he’s kind of fallen in love with TAMMY, which is bad because she doesn’t have a module for that. With all that’s on his mind, perhaps it’s no surprise that when he meets his future self, he shoots him in the stomach. And that’s a beginner’s mistake for a time machine repairman. Now he’s stuck in a time loop, going in circles forever. All he has, wrapped in brown paper, is the book his future self was trying to press into his hands. It’s called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. And he’s the author. And somewhere inside it is the information that could save him.

Publisher: Corvus
Year: 2011
ISBN-10: 1848876823

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Munch, Edvard. The Sick Child

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The Sick Child 1907 Edvard Munch 1863-1944 Presented by Thomas Olsen 1939 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05035

The Sick Child 1907 Edvard Munch 1863-1944 Presented by Thomas Olsen 1939 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05035 [CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported)]

The Sick Child touches on the fragility of life. It draws upon Munch’s personal memories, including the trauma of his sister’s death, and visits to dying patients with his doctor father. He described the 1885 painting as ‘a breakthrough in my art’ and made several subsequent versions, of which this is the fourth.

Acquired by the city of Dresden in 1928, it was displayed in the Gemäldegalerie. A decade later, the Nazis declared that Munch’s art was ‘degenerate’ and, in November 1938, all his works in German public collections were collected in Berlin for auction. The Norwegian dealer Harald Holst Halvorsen secured as many as possible, including The Sick Child, and returned them safely to Oslo. Thomas Olsen bought the painting in 1939 and gave it to the Tate. Norway fell to the Germans in 1940. Looking back, Olsen explained that his gift was stimulated by ‘my knowledge, from talks with Munch, that he felt the need of recognition in Western Europe, especially so after the advent of Hitler.’

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Peirce, Kimberly (dir). Boys Don’t Cry

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In Falls City, Nebraska, Brandon Teena arrives to start a new future for himself. The local community falls for his charms and everyone becomes drawn to his innocence and wit. However, behind the charming persona is a totally different person – Brandon is actually a woman. After falling for a local karaoke singer, Brandon moves in with her family and wins them over. But when Brandon’s secret is finally out, the rest of the family all turn against him, branding him sick and evil.

Directed: Kimberly Peirce
Written: Andy Bienen, Kimberly Peirce
Year: 1999

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Beaumont, Henny. Hole in the Heart: Bringing up Beth

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On Mother’s Day 2004 Henny Beaumont gave birth to her third child. For the first few hours, her baby seemed no different to her two other little girls.

With stunning art and refreshing honesty, Henny describes how family life changed the moment the registrar told her and her husband that their daughter might have Down’s Syndrome. She knew that her life was over. How can this weak little baby, who would demand so much more from Henny than her other two children, and who would need an operation in order to survive, provoke such feelings of hatred and resentment? How can Henny learn to love her? And if she can’t trust her own reactions to Beth, how can she expect other people to overcome their prejudices and ignorance about her condition?

Publisher: Myriad Editions
Year: 2016
ISBN-10: 1908434929

Ball, Rachel. The Inflatable Woman

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Iris (or balletgirl-42 as she’s known on the internet dating circuit) is a zookeeper looking for love when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. Overnight, her life becomes populated with a carnival of daunting hospital characters. Despite the attempts of her friends – Maud, Granma Suggs, Larry the Monkey and a group of singing penguins – to comfort her, Iris’s fears begin to encircle her until all she has to cling to is the attention of a lighthouse keeper called sailor_buoy_39.

The Inflatable Woman combines magic realism with the grit of everyday life to create a poignant and surreal journey inside the human psyche.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 140885807X

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Larkin, John. Cynical Acumen: The Anarchic Guide to Clinical Medicine

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Winner of the Medical Journalists’ Association Specialist Book of the Year Award 2006 Cynical Acumen approaches medicine in the real world, dealing with issues ignored by other books. It is a unique, ‘what you really need to know’ textbook designed to help medical students and senior house officers look slick and pass their exams against all odds. The book entertainingly considers the world outside medicine with anecdotes on the important things in life such as sport, literature, Thai cooking and the dissolution of the monasteries. It has been aptly described by the author as ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Medicine’.

Publisher: CRC Press
Year: 2005
ISBN-10: 1857757874

Francis, Gavin. Adventures in Human Being

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We have a lifetime’s association with our bodies, but for many of us they remain uncharted territory. In Adventures in Human Being, Gavin Francis leads the reader on a journey through health and illness, offering insights on everything from the ribbed surface of the brain to the secret workings of the heart and the womb; from the pulse of life at the wrist to the unique engineering of the foot.

Drawing on his own experiences as a doctor and GP, he blends first-hand case studies with reflections on the way the body has been imagined and portrayed over the millennia. If the body is a foreign country, then to practise medicine is to explore new territory: Francis leads the reader on an adventure through what it means to be human.

Both a user’s guide to the body and a celebration of its elegance, this book will transform the way you think about being alive, whether in sickness or in health.

Publisher: Profile Books
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 1781253412

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Bennett, Alan. Smut – two unseemly stories

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The Shielding of Mrs Forbes

Graham Forbes is a disappointment to his mother, who thinks that if he must have a wife, he should have done better. Though her own husband isn’t all that satisfactory either. Still, this is Alan Bennett, so what is happening in the bedroom (and in lots of other places too) is altogether more startling, perhaps shocking, and ultimately more true to people’s predilections.

The Greening of Mrs Donaldson

Mrs Donaldson is a conventional middle-class woman beached on the shores of widowhood after a marriage that had been much like many others: happy to begin with, then satisfactory and finally dull. But when she decides to take in two lodgers, her mundane life becomes much more stimulating…

Publisher: Profile Books
Year: 2012
ISBN-10: 1846685265

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Murphy, Robert. The Body Silent: The Different World of the Disabled

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Robert Murphy was in the prime of his career as an anthropologist when he felt the first symptom of a malady that would ultimately take him on an odyssey stranger than any field trip to the Amazon: a tumor of the spinal cord that progressed slowly and irreversibly into quadriplegia. In this gripping account, Murphy explores society’s fears, myths, and misunderstandings about disability, and the damage they inflict. He reports how paralysis like all disabilities assaults people’s identity, social standing, and ties with others, while at the same time making the love of life burn even more fiercely.

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company;
Year: 2001
ISBN-10: 0393320421

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Suri, Sandhya (dir). I for India

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In 1965 Yash Pal Suri left India for the U.K. The first thing he does on his arrival in England is to buy two Super-8 cameras, two projectors and two reel to reel recorders. One set of equipment he sends to his family in India, the other he keeps for himself. For 40 years he uses it to share his new life abroad with those back home – images of snow, miniskirted ladies dancing bare-legged, the first trip to an English supermarket – his taped thoughts and observations providing a unique chronicle of the eccentricities of his new English hosts. Back in India, his relatives in turn, respond with their own ‘cine-letters’ telling tales of weddings, festivals and village life. As time passes and the planned return to India becomes an increasingly remote possibility, the joy and curiosity of the early exchanges give way to the darker reality of alienation, racism and a family falling apart. A bitter-sweet time capsule of alienation, discovery, racism and belonging, I for India is a chronicle of immigration in sixties Britain and beyond, seen through the eyes of one Asian family and their movie camera.

Director: Sandhya Suri
Year: 2007
Distributer: ICA Projects

Burgess, Melvin. Junk.

junk junk

The love story of two runaway teenagers, Gemma and Tar, and their struggles with heroin addiction.
 Melvin Burgess’ most ambitious and complex novel is a multi-faceted and vivid depiction of a group of young people in the grip of addiction. It is told in many different voices, from the addicts themselves to the friends watching from the outside who try to prevent tragedy.

Publisher: Andersen Press
Year: 2014
ISBN-10: 1783440627

Donaldson, Ross. The Lassa Ward

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In the summer of 2003, a perilous helicopter descent delivered Ross Donaldson, an American medical student in his twenties, into Sierra Leone. With abundant schooling but little practical experience, Ross wanted to save the world. Little did he know that by the end of his journey, it would be he who would need rescue.

With rebels fighting just across the border in Liberia, humanitarian need quickly swept Ross southward towards makeshift refugee camps and the heart of danger. There, he had his first terrifying encounter with the highly contagious Lassa Virus. Working on the Lassa Fever Ward, he was wholly unprepared for what he would find, and for twist of fate that saw him running the facility alone, with only a handful of untrained nurses to help him.

Based on his personal journal, this gripping memoir details the time Ross spent on the Lassa Ward, and his own battle with a potentially fatal illness. It is a real-life thriller that not only tells the adventure-packed tale of a modern-day hero, but also bears witness to a people in need, and the struggle of those who risk their daily comforts, and even their lives, to help them.

Publisher: Black Swan
Year: 2010
ISBN-10: 0552775665

Worth, Jennifer. Call the midwife: A True Story Of the East End in the 1950s

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Jennifer Worth came from a sheltered background when she became a midwife in the Docklands in the 1950s. The conditions in which many women gave birth just half a century ago were horrifying, not only because of their grimly impoverished surroundings, but also because of what they were expected to endure. But while Jennifer witnessed brutality and tragedy, she also met with amazing kindness and understanding, tempered by a great deal of Cockney humour. She also earned the confidences of some whose lives were truly stranger, more poignant and more terrifying than could ever be recounted in fiction.

Attached to an order of nuns who had been working in the slums since the 1870s, Jennifer tells the story not only of the women she treated, but also of the community of nuns (including one who was accused of stealing jewels from Hatton Garden) and the camaraderie of the midwives with whom she trained. Funny, disturbing and incredibly moving, Jennifer’s stories bring to life the colourful world of the East End in the 1950s.

Publisher: W&N
Year: 2012
ISBN-10: 0753827875

Hytner, Nicholas (dir). The Lady in the Van

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The Lady in the Van tells the true story of Alan Bennett’s strained friendship with Miss Mary Shepherd, an eccentric homeless woman whom Bennett befriended in the 1970s before allowing her to temporarily park her Bedford van in the driveway of his London Borough of Camden home. She stayed there for 15 years.

Directed by     Nicholas Hytner
Produced by     Nicholas Hytner, Damian Jones, Kevin Loader
Screenplay by     Alan Bennett

Salinsky, John. Medicine and literature: the doctor’s companion to the classics. Volume 2.

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When I want to know the real rock-bottom truth about what happens all the time in this doctoring life, what happens to us, and to the folks who bring us their hearts and worries to be heard, that’s when I turn, every time, to the novelists, the playwrights, the poets, the essayists, who have given us the sights and sounds, the feel, of all that goes on, minute by minute. What Tolstoy and Chekhov knew, we need to know for ourselves, for our own sakes, as we live out our medical lives.” William Carlos Williams “The most fundamental of all consulting skills is genuine curiosity about other people, the constant urge to wonder ‘Why are they as they are?'” We should open our minds to the life of the imagination not just for its entertainment value, but for the mindset of curiosity it engenders in us.”Such books as John Salinsky describes in this and his previous volume combine powerful opportunities for our own professional growth with pleasure and recreation too.

Publisher: CRC Press
Year: 2004
ISBN-10: 1857758307

Salinsky, John. Medicine and literature: the doctor’s companion to the classics

salink1

When I want to know the real rock-bottom truth about what happens all the time in this doctoring life, what happens to us, and to the folks who bring us their hearts and worries to be heard, that’s when I turn, every time, to the novelists, the playwrights, the poets, the essayists, who have given us the sights and sounds, the feel, of all that goes on, minute by minute. What Tolstoy and Chekhov knew, we need to know for ourselves, for our own sakes, as we live out our medical lives.” William Carlos Williams “The most fundamental of all consulting skills is genuine curiosity about other people, the constant urge to wonder ‘Why are they as they are?'” We should open our minds to the life of the imagination not just for its entertainment value, but for the mindset of curiosity it engenders in us.”Such books as John Salinsky describes in this and his previous volume combine powerful opportunities for our own professional growth with pleasure and recreation too.

Publisher: CRC Press
Year: 2001
ISBN-10: 1857755359

Powley, Elaine; Higson, Roger. The Arts in Medical Education: A Practical Guide

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The first edition of The Arts in Medical Education outlined the principles and methods for using arts resources in teaching aspects of the medical curriculum. The second edition has been expanded with new chapters, which enliven and enhance the teaching of some of the more challenging areas of medical practice. The book includes many colour illustrations, photographs, poems and literary extracts. It is invaluable to healthcare educators and medical professionals with teaching responsibilities, offering information, structure and inspiration. ‘There is considerable art in the practice of medicine. This book represents a practical tool to stimulate educators and learners to consider new approaches to medical education that reflect changing societal needs and practice patterns by introducing the visual and literary arts to medical education; to embrace the art of medicine. Medical schools around the world are exploring the influence of the visual arts on physician practice and understanding the nature of healing as well as suffering. We hope you will find this book an important tool in your exploration of the power and influence of the arts in medicine.’ere is considerable art in the practice of medicine. This book represents a practical tool to stimulate educators and learners to consider new approaches to medical education that reflect changing societal needs and practice patterns by introducing the visual and literary arts to medical education; to embrace the art of medicine. Medical schools around the world are exploring the influence of the visual arts on physician practice and understanding the nature of healing as well as suffering. We hope you will find this book an important tool in your exploration of the power and influence of the arts in medicine.’

Publisher: CRC Press
Year: 2013
ISBN-10: 1846195659

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Posen, Solomon. The Doctor in Literature, Volume 2: Private Life

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Focusing on the personal lives of doctors, this annotated indexed anthology explores personality, behaviour and doctor-patient relationships as portrayed in novels, short stories and plays. “The Doctor in Literature, Volume 2” and its companion volume are unique among medical anthologies in that readers can look up medical topics as they appear in fiction. The choice of passages is based on clinical relevance, and the range of fully indexed subjects and quotations are generally not found in other texts. This work brings together an extraordinary array of passages from literature to provide a major reference source. It identifies and analyses recurring themes in the portrayal of medical doctors, and is sure to provide pleasure for readers who use it for browsing.

Publisher: CRC Press
Year: 2006
ISBN-10: 1857757793

Posen, Solomon. The Doctor in Literature, Volume 1: Satisfaction or Resentment?

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This anthology culls 1,500 excerpts from approximately 600 works of literature primarily written in the past two centuries and representing all major genres–the novel, drama, poetry, and essay. These brief selections highlight how literature portrays the medical profession and also provide ample evidence of many recurrent themes about the doctor-patient relationship and the personal lives of physicians present in the pages of fiction.

Publisher: CRC Press
Year: 2004
ISBN-10: 1857756096

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Sarton, May. The Magnificent Spinster

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“For the second time in my life—and I am now seventy—I am embarking on an effort which may well come to nothing but which has possessed my mind, haunts, and will not let me sleep.”
 
From her opening statement, Cam, the narrator of The Magnificent Spinster, declares her grand intentions: to write a novel—a worthy and important one in celebration of her recently deceased friend and teacher, Jane Reid, whose dearth of family threatens the memory of her almost tangible greatness. And so she writes, re-creating Jane’s childhood, adolescence, and years as a teacher—including the one in which Cam was her student. She writes of Jane’s irrepressible spirit and the charming letters Jane penned about her adventures, and she recounts Jane’s growing isolation as she aged, which, rather than softening her, only made her shine brighter.

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Year: 2002
ISBN-10: 0393312496

Sarton, May. A Reckoning.

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When Laura Spelman learns that she will not get well, she looks on this last illness as a journey during which she must reckon up her life, give up the nonessential, and concentrate on what she calls “the real connections.” The heart of the story is Laura’s realization that for her the real connections have been with women: her brilliant and devastating mother, a difficult daughter, and most of all a woman she knew when she was young.

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Year: 1997
ISBN-10: 0393316211

Sarton, May. As we are now: a novel

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After seventy-six-year-old Caro Spencer suffers a heart attack, her family sends her to a private retirement home to wait out the rest of her days. Her memory growing fuzzy, Caro decides to keep a journal to document the daily goings-on—her feelings of confinement and boredom; her distrust of the home’s owner, Harriet Hatfield, and her daughter, Rose; her pity for the more incapacitated residents; her resentment of her brother, John, for leaving her alone. The journal entries describe not only her frustrations, but also small moments of beauty—found in a welcome visit from her minister, or in watching a bird in the garden. But as she writes, Caro grows increasingly sensitive to the casual atrocities of retirement-home life. Even as she acknowledges her mind is beginning to fail, she is determined to fight back against the injustices foisted upon the home’s occupants.

Publisher: The Women’s Press Ltd
Year: 1983
ISBN-10: 0704339218

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Sacks, Oliver. A Leg to Stand On

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When Oliver Sacks, a physician by profession, injured his leg while climbing a mountain, he found himself in an unusual position – that of patient. The injury itself was severe, but straightforward to fix; the psychological effects, however, were far less easy to predict, explain, or resolve: Sacks experienced paralysis and an inability to perceive his leg as his own, instead seeing it as some kind of alien and inanimate object, over which he had no control. A Leg to Stand On is both an account of Sacks’ ordeal and subsequent recovery, and an exploration of the ways in which mind and body are inextricably linked.

Publisher: Picador
Year:2012
ISBN-10: 0330507621

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Chekhov, Anton. [Coulehan, Jack (ed).] Chekhov’s Doctors: A Collection of Chekhov’s Medical Tales

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In his brief life, Chekhov was a doctor, essayist, dramatist and a humanitarian. He saw no conflict between art and science or art and medicine. This collection of stories presents powerful portraits of doctors in their everyday lives, struggling with their own personal problems.

Publisher: Kent State University Press
Year: 2003
ISBN-10: 0873387805

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Clark, Rachel. A Long Walk Home

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“Dr Reynolds was a young woman, only a few years older than I was. I rather liked her. We sat down and chatted, exchanging social pleasantries for a while. So, what did the path. results show? Do you know what it is?’ I asked, trying to get down to the issue that had been gnawing at my mind constantly for over a week. I don’t think it will mean that much to you’ she replied. Now, obviously the first question you will have is how long have you got’ she looked directly at me and I’m afraid I can’t tell you.’ I was confused. What was she talking about? I’m sorry’ I started haltingly, I don’t understand what you mean. Do you mean how long it is going to take until I’m better? How long the treatment is going to take?’ No’ she hesitated, I meant how long you have got to live’ she paused and I’m afraid I can’t tell you because I’m not an oncologist.’

Here was another medical word I was expected to understand. What was an oncologist’, and why wasn’t one here, whatever they were? Half-formed questions tumbled around inside my head. To each poorly articulated question that stumbled out of my mouth she seemed to answer I don’t know, I’m not an oncologist.’ She was right, she wasn’t, where was this elusive beast? Come back on Monday morning’ she told me. Her parting remark stuck in my mind. Please don’t go and jump off Sydney Harbour Bridge.’ At least she didn’t attempt to tell me to have a nice weekend’. She didn’t know that I didn’t know I had cancer. She didn’t know.

A Long Walk Home is Rachel Clark’s evocative and moving account of her treatment and experiences with health professionals in Britain and Australia while she was living with, and dying from, cancer. It includes an Epilogue by her twin sister Naomi Jefferies, and learning points for health professionals by John Hasler and David Pendleton.”

Publisher: CRC Press
Year: 2003
ISBN-10: 1857759060

Guevara, Ernesto ‘Che’. The Motorcycle Diaries

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“In January 1952, two young men from Buenos Aires set out to explore South America on a 500cc Norton. One of them was the twenty-three-year-old Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.

Written eight years before the Cuban Revolution, these are the diaries of Che Guevara, full of disasters and discoveries, high drama and laddish improvisations. Touring through Argentina, Chile, Peru and Venezuela, his greatest concerns are where the next drink is coming from, where the next bed is to be found and who might be around to share it. Within a decade Che Guevara would be a household name. His trip might have been the adventure of a lifetime – had his lifetime not turned into a much greater adventure.”

Publisher: Harper Perennial
Year: 2004
ISBN-10: 0007172338

Mates, Susan Onthank. The Good Doctor

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Many of Mates’ characters have experienced some sort of cultural dislocation. In “Theng,” refugees from Cambodia living in Providence, Rhode Island, struggle to maintain their dignity in the face of despair and the bittersweet memories of their former home. In “Shambalileh, ” a Persian woman unable to have children with her American husband, is forced to reexamine her status both as wife and as foreigner. Unifying these incredibly diverse stories is the brave honesty with which the characters confront the tenuousness of their situations. For the most part, they share the tenacity of the woman in “Shambalileh, ” who “with great caution … began to imagine the rest of her life.” The central characters in several stories are doctors, whose candid explorations of the vast moral implications of medical practice make of their lives a sort of psychic battleground between good and evil. In “The Good Doctor,” a doctor torn between her dedication to medicine and her own requirements as a human being – what many of us might call her weaknesses – arrives at an intriguing conclusion. An intern in “Ambulance” risks her own well-being to save the life of a victim of gang violence. The twelve stories in this collection are powerful and durable. The debate between good and evil is so intense that the daily experiences of Mates; characters, transformed and reorganized, become psychic quests. Mates takes us back to the fundamental question that is the fountainhead of all serious fiction: how should we live?

Publisher: University of Iowa Press
Year: 1997
ISBN-10: 0877456127

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Lewycka, Marina. Two Caravans.

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 A field of strawberries in Kent…

And sitting in it are two caravans – one for the men and one for the women. The residents are from all over: miner’s son Andriy is from the old Ukraine, while sexy young Irina is from the new: they each other warily. There are the Poles, Tomasz and Yola; two Chinese girls; and Emauel from Malawi. They’re all here to pick strawberries in England’s green and pleasant land.

But these days England’s not so pleasant for immigrants. Not with Russian gangster-wannabes like Vulk, who’s taken a shine to Irina and thinks kidnapping is a wooing strategy. And so Andriy – who really doesn’t fancy Irina, honest – must set off in search of that girl he’s not in love with.

Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2012
ISBN-10: 024196184X

Lewycka, Marina. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

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‘Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian divorcée. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.’

Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must aside a lifetime of feuding to save their émigré engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. With her proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-bag cuisine, she will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western wealth.

But the sisters’ campaign to oust Valentina unearths family secrets, uncovers fifty years of Europe’s darkest history and sends them back to roots they’d much rather forget . . ..

Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2012
ISBN-10: 0241961823

Levy, Andrea. Small Island

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“It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh’s neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie doesn’t know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all. What else can she do?

Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. It’s desperation that makes him remember a wartime friendship with Queenie and knock at her door.

Gilbert’s wife Hortense, too, had longed to leave Jamaica and start a better life in England. But when she joins him she is shocked to find London shabby, decrepit, and far from the golden city of her dreams. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was…”

Publisher: Headline Review
Year: 2004
ISBN-10: 075530750X

Levy, Andrea. Every Light in the House Burnin’

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‘Better opportunity’ – that’s why Angela’s dad sailed to England from America in 1948 on the Empire Windrush. Six months later her mum joined him in his one room in Earl’s Court…

…Twenty years and four children later, Mr Jacob has become seriously ill and starts to move unsteadily through the care of the National Health Service. As Angela, his youngest, tries to help her mother through this ordeal, she finds herself reliving her childhood years, spent on a council estate in Highbury.

Publisher: Headline Review
Year: 1995
ISBN-10: 074724653X

Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies

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“Pulitzer-winning, scintillating studies in yearning and exile from a Bengali Bostonian woman of immense promise.

A couple exchange unprecedented confessions during nightly blackouts in their Boston apartment as they struggle to cope with a heartbreaking loss; a student arrives in new lodgings in a mystifying new land and, while he awaits the arrival of his arranged-marriage wife from Bengal, he finds his first bearings with the aid of the curious evening rituals that his centenarian landlady orchestrates; a schoolboy looks on while his childminder finds that the smallest dislocation can unbalance her new American life all too easily and send her spiralling into nostalgia for her homeland…

Jhumpa Lahiri’s prose is beautifully measured, subtle and sober, and she is a writer who leaves a lot unsaid, but this work is rich in observational detail, evocative of the yearnings of the exile (mostly Indians in Boston here), and full of emotional pull and reverberation.”

Publisher: Flamingo
Year: 2000
ISBN-10: 0006551793

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Sebold, Alice. The Lovely Bones.

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“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer.”

This is Susie Salmon. Watching from heaven, Susie sees her happy, suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone. Over the years, her friends and siblings grow up, fall in love, do all the things she never had the chance to do herself. But life is not quite finished with Susie yet . . . The Lovely Bones is a luminous and astonishing novel about life and death, forgiveness and vengeance, memory and forgetting – but, above all, about finding light in the darkest of places.

Publisher: Picador
Year: 2003
ISBN-10: 0330485385

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Didion, Joan.The Year of Magical Thinking

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“Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill. At first they thought it was flu, then pneumonia, then complete sceptic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later – the night before New Year’s Eve –the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of 40 years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LA airport, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Centre to relieve a massive hematoma.

This powerful book is Didion’s ‘attempt to make sense of the weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness … about marriage and children and memory … about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself’. The result is an exploration of an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage, and a life, in good times and bad.”

Publisher: Harper Perennial
Year: 2006
ISBN-10: 0007216858

Spufford, Francis. The Child that Books Built.

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“Children’s books – from Narnia to The Hobbit – are celebrated in this enlightened examination of the joys of childhood reading.

Fairy tales and Where the Wild Things Are, The Lord of the Rings and the Narnia books, Little House on the Prairie and The Earthsea Trilogy. What would you find if you went back and re-read your favourite books from childhood? Francis Spufford discovers both delight and sadness, in this widely celebrated memoir of a boy who retreats into books, faced with a tragedy in his family.”

Publisher: Faber & Faber
Year: 2003
ISBN-10: 0571214673

Genova, Lisa. Still Alice

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“Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a renowned expert in linguistics, with a successful husband and three grown children. When she begins to grow forgetful and disoriented, she dismisses it for as long as she can until a tragic diagnosis changes her life – and her relationship with her family and the world around her – for ever.

Unable to care for herself, Alice struggles to find meaning and purpose as her concept of self gradually slips away. But Alice is a remarkable woman, and her family learn more about her and each other in their quest to hold on to the Alice they know. Her memory hanging by a frayed thread, she is living in the moment, living for each day. But she is still Alice.”

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 1471140822

Miller, Sue. The Story of My Father

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“In the spring of 1986, Sue Miller found herself more and more deeply involved in caring for her father as he slipped into the grasp of Alzheimer’s disease. “The Story of My Father” is a profound, deeply moving account of her father’s final days and her own response to it. With care, restraint and consummate skill, Miller writes of her struggles to be fully with her father in his illness while confronting her own terror of abandonment, and eventually the long, hard work of grieving for him. And through this candid, painful record, she offers a rigorous, compassionate inventory of two lives, a powerful meditation on the variable nature of memory and the difficulty of weaving a truthful narrative from the threads of a dissolving life.”

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Year: 2004
ISBN-10: 0747565228

Longden, Deric. Lost For Words

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“Deric Longden’s mum was a wonderfully endearing, eccentric lady whose passions ranged from pot plants and her beloved pussycats to Buttercup Syrup which she consumed in vast quantities. She also provided comfort, advice and her own particular brand of wisdom in the years when Deric was struggling after the death of his first wife, Diana. Deric’s many happy memories include the vision of his mother’s unmistakeable backside as she charged through Marks & Spencers; the way in which she charmed everyone she met, including the surliest of youths, and her unusual technique of selling a house which involved plying potential buyers with iced buns whilst pointing out the damp patches and dodgy electrics. Strangely, it worked. Lost For Words is a funny, poignant and ultimately heartwarming book that may well make you cry, but will certainly make you laugh.”

Publisher: Corgi
Year: 1998
ISBN-10: 0552139432

Kahlo, Frieda. Various

frida kahlo the broken column

The Broken Column 1944
Museo Dolores Olmedo Patino Mexico (Mexico City, Mexico)
© Banco de México and INBAL Mexico, 2004

The Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) brought many influences into her work, from folklore, politics and religion – but a central theme was her own body and the consequences of a terrible traumatic road traffic injury in her youth.

The following link is to a Tate Modern exhibition in 2005 of her work – a good introduction to her work and influences.

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/frida-kahlo/frida-kahlo-room-guide

Bennett, Alan. Untold Stories

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“Untold Stories contains significant previously unpublished work, including a poignant memoir of his family and of growing up in Leeds, together with his much celebrated diary for the years 1996-2004, and numerous other exceptional essays, reviews and comic pieces. Bennett, as always, is both amusing and poignant, whether he’s discussing his modest childhood or his work with figures such as Maggie Smith, Thora Hird and John Gielgud.”

Publisher: Faber & Faber
Year: 2006
ISBN-10: 0571228313

Rule, Jane. Memory Board: A Novel

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“When the novel opens, Diana’s twin brother, David, a widower in his mid-sixties, is looking back on his life. As memories swamp him, he decides to take a critical step: to beg for his sister’s forgiveness. Diana has never met David’s two daughters. She has no idea how many grandchildren he has. David doesn’t know Diana’s longtime lover, Constance, housebound by advancing memory loss and for whom Diana writes the day’s events on an erasable board to help her keep track of a life that’s slipping away. Estranged for nearly forty years, David appears at Diana’s dinner table, throwing her life into turmoil. But as she and her brother begin to rediscover each other, they both find the strength to move on with their lives. Told in Diana and David’s alternating points of view, Memory Board makes a powerful case for living in the present and making every moment count.”

Publisher: Naiad Press
Year: 1987
ISBN-10: 0941483029

Reichs, Kathy. Déjà Dead.

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“Dr Temperance Brennan, Director of Forensic Anthropology for the province of Quebec, has been researching recent disappearances in the city.

Soon she is convinced that a serial killer is at work. But when no one else seems to care, her anger forces her to take matters into her own hands. Her determined probing has placed those closest to her in mortal danger, however.”

Publisher: Arrow
Year: 2012
ISBN-10: 0099574853

Frank, Arthur W. The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics

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“Since it was first published in 1995, The Wounded Storyteller has occupied a unique place in the body of work on illness. Both the collective portrait of a so-called “remission society” of those who suffer from some type of illness or disability and a cogent analysis of their stories within a larger framework of narrative theory, Arthur W. Frank’s book has reached a large and diverse readership including the ill, medical professionals, and scholars of literary theory.

Drawing on the work of authors such as Oliver Sacks, Anatole Broyard, Norman Cousins, and Audre Lorde, as well as from people he met during the years he spent among different illness groups, Frank recounts a stirring collection of illness stories, ranging from the well-known—Gilda Radner’s battle with ovarian cancer—to the private testimonials of people with cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and disabilities. Their stories are more than accounts of personal suffering: they abound with moral choices and point to a social ethic.”

Publisher: University of Chicago Press (2nd edition)
Year: 2013
ISBN-10: 022600497X

Schwalbe, Will. The End of Your Life Book Club

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“Mary Anne Schwalbe is waiting for her chemotherapy treatments when Will casually asks her what she’s reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they are reading the same books so they can have something to talk about in the hospital waiting room. Their choices range from classic (Howards End) to popular (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), from fantastic (The Hobbit) to spiritual (Jon Kabat-Zinn), with many in between. We hear their passion for reading and their love for each other in their intimate and searching discussions.
A profoundly moving testament to the power of love between a child and parent, and the power of reading in our lives.”

Publisher: Two Roads
Year: 2013
ISBN-10: 1444706381

 

Enders, Giulia. Gut: the inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ

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“The key to living a happier, healthier life is inside us. Our gut is almost as important to us as our brain or our heart, yet we know very little about how it works. In Gut, Giulia Enders shows that rather than the utilitarian and let s be honest somewhat embarrassing body part we imagine it to be, it is one of the most complex, important, and even miraculous parts of our anatomy. And scientists are only just discovering quite how much it has to offer; new research shows that gut bacteria can play a role in everything from obesity and allergies to Alzheimer’s. Beginning with the personal experience of illness that inspired her research, and going on to explain everything from the basics of nutrient absorption to the latest science linking bowel bacteria with depression, Enders has written an entertaining, informative health handbook. Gut definitely shows that we can all benefit from getting to know the wondrous world of our inner workings. In this charming book, young scientist Giulia Enders takes us on a fascinating tour of our insides. Her message is simple if we treat our gut well, it will treat us well in return. But how do we do that? And why do we need to? Find out in this surprising, and surprisingly funny, exploration of the least understood of our organs.”

Publisher: Greystone Books
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 1771641495

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Briggs, Raymond. Ethel & Ernest: A True Story

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“Ethel and Ernest were solid members of the English working class, part of the generation that lived through the most tumultuous years of the twentieth century. They met during the Depression–she working as a maid, he as a milkman–and we follow them as they court and marry, make a home, raise their son, and cope with the dark days of World War II. Briggs’s portrayal of how his parents succeeded, or failed, in coming to terms with the events of their rapidly shifting world–the advent of radio, television, and telephones; the development of the atomic bomb; the moon landing; the social and political turmoil of the sixties–is irresistibly engaging, full of sympathy and affection, yet clear-eyed and unsentimental.”

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Year: 1999
ISBN-10: 0375407588

Rentzenbrink, Cathy. The Last Act of Love: The Story of My Brother and His Sister

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“In the summer of 1990, Cathy’s brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out. It was two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school. Sitting by his unconscious body in hospital, holding his hand and watching his heartbeat on the monitors, Cathy and her parents willed him to survive. They did not know then that there are many and various fates worse than death.

This is the story of what happened to Cathy and her brother, and the unimaginable decision that she and her parents had to make eight years after the night that changed everything. It’s a story for anyone who has ever watched someone suffer or lost someone they loved or lived through a painful time that left them forever changed. Told with boundless warmth and affection, The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is a heartbreaking yet uplifting testament to a family’s survival and the price we pay for love.”

Publisher: Picador
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 1447286375

Granger, Kate. The Bright Side.

the_bright_side

“The Bright Side tells the on-going story of a young doctor who is living with a rare and aggressive type of sarcoma that will end her life prematurely. It explores her return to work after a prolonged period of absence, her innermost thoughts and reflections about dying and her continuing interactions with health services. It also portrays her determined attitude to maintain positivity despite her tragic circumstances and her openness about dying.”

For more information and links >click here<

Granger, Kate. The Other Side

the_other_side theother3d

“A true story of one doctor’s journey as a patient coming to terms with a terminal cancer diagnosis. The hope is that by reading it healthcare professionals will be better able understand exactly what being the patient is really like and how their behaviours, no matter how small can impact massively on the people they look after. It is also a story of personal battles with control, learning how and when to relinquish this.”

For more information and links >click here<

Publisher: Kate Granger
ISBN-10: 1471625850

Pausch, Randy; Zaslow, Jeffrey. The Last Lecture: Lessons in Living

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“A lot of professors give talks titled ‘The Last Lecture’. Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?
When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave, ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’, wasnt about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because time is all you have and you may find one day that you have less than you think). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.
In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humour, inspiration, and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.”

Watch a recording of the lecture at YouTube – > Here <

Publisher: Two Roads
Year: 2010
ISBN-10: 0340978503

Gilmour D, Waters R. The Wall

wall
“The Wall is a concept album and explores themes of abandonment and personal isolation. The album is a rock opera that follows Pink, a character whom Waters modelled after himself and the band‘s original leader, Syd Barrett. Pink’s life begins with the loss of his father during the Second World War and continues with abuse from his schoolteachers, an overprotective mother, and the breakdown of his marriage; all contribute to his eventual self-imposed isolation from society, represented by a metaphorical wall. Waters conceived the album during Pink Floyd’s 1977 In the Flesh Tour, when his frustration with the audience became so acute that he imagined a wall between the audience and the stage.”

Plenty of different tracks to enjoy – but impossible in an education establishment (even a student-focused one) not to worry about that ‘dark sarcasm’ and  ‘thought control’ – Hey teacher…