The Undying – Anne Boyer
This books is about mindfulness in the practice of medicine. Epstein talks about how the practice of medicine has evolved from the age of Hippocrates to now; what things have change, what hasn’t, and what has or should go back to the way they were. Being in medical school now and experiencing the rigors of medical education, reading about burnout rates of physicians is sobering, but understandable. By this point I think medical institutions do a better job of recognizing the causes and symptoms of physician burnout than they did 10-50 years ago, but there is still work to be done, and Epstein provides insight on how we can get there and what we can do on both an individual and communal basis to that end.
THE PRACTICE SETH GODIN
Another one from Seth. Whereas many of the previous books I’ve read from him are more ideological, this one is a bit more practical as the name implies. He talks about not only why it is important to engage in and create creative work, but how we should go about it. As with his others, he often refers to the readers as potential artists, but the lessons apply to all people with their respective craft. Find what makes your work yours and what makes it worth doing, then go and do it.
tHE SPIRIT CATCHES YOU AND YOU FALL DOWN ANNE fADIMAN
This book is all about what happens when non-Western culture and traditions clash with the Western healthcare systems. The story of Lea Lee and her family highlights the flaws of overly analytical and patriarchal medical practice. While I honestly believe we have come along way in the culture of medical practice since the writing of these experiences, there is still a lot of work to do and this is a must read for anyone who wants to work in healthcare.
Other Minds Peter Godfrey-Smith
Godfrey-Smith dives, both literally and figuratively into the world of cephalopods. He discusses current theories of consciousness and subjective experience. Cephalopods, especially octopuses have many behaviors that seems to indicate some level of consciousness, though perhaps not as we know it. Given how far removed they are from humans and other animals which we consider “intelligent,” the cephalopods represent an alternate experiment in the development of large nervous systems and intelligence.
The Sixth Extinction Elizabeth Kolbert
Published in 2014, this book has aged extremely well (yea yea 6 years is not that old), and presents a sobering look at how what’s happening in our world right now mirrors what has occurred in the previous 5 great extinction events, and yet like each of those events is unprecedented in it’s own way. Kolbert provides a history of our understanding of how species come and go, and the driving forces behind those processes.
Homo Deus Yuval Noah Harari
The “sequel” to Sapiens, Harari now discusses where humanity is going. Much of it is focused on how if we follow current trends the world of the future will be run by computers and hyper-efficient algorithms. While this may sound like a conspiracy/ doom-day scenario, Harari’s arguments are well reasoned, and he merely offers this future as a possibility and leaves it to us whether or not this future is one we would like to be realized.
Factfulness Hans Rosling
The tagline is 10 Reasons Why We’re Wrong About the World. This book argues that despite what it may seem, the world is not as bad as we think. Not that we shouldn’t be concerned, but in order to move forward we have to use truth to guide us, not fear mongering and misplaced urgency. Everyone can benefit from reading this book and the world would be a better place if they did.
The Gene Siddhartha Mukherjee
LONG, but interesting. Goes through basically the whole history of genetics, as well as where we’re at and where we may be going. Gives you a lot to think about ethically and scientifically. Mukherjee is a compelling writer and makes you care about this somewhat convoluted science.
Sapiens Yuval Noah Harari
History of humanity. Talks about why humans are where we are, and the different biological and social/ cultural “evolutions” that make it possible. May challenge faith perspectives. Personally this was humbling, in a we-are-all-human type of way. Good if you like science and math.
When Breath Becomes Air Paul Kalanithi
Non-fiction, but more of a narrative. A father’s (who’s a doctor) writing to his daughter. Beautiful story. Probably will make you cry.
The Icarus Deception Seth Godin
Motivating. About finding and doing you’re art. Don’t sell yourself short and don’t set out to please people for the sake of pleasing people. You don’t need to fit in. A lot of good business perspectives.
Linchpin Seth Godin
Also by Seth Godin, similar themes. Find what makes you indispensable and be that. If what you’re doing doesn’t allow for it, do something else. Also a good business book (Seth is a marketing guy)
The Book of Joy The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Interfaith talks between two leaders in their respective communities, who are friends. They talk about what it means to be happy in ways that transcend any ascribed identity. Another book that would make the world a better place.
Algorithms to Live By Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
Good read if you like math/ mathematical thinking. This one gives you a lot of interesting ways to think about how you go about your daily life. Counter-intuitively, it makes life seems simpler (math is supposed to be complicated and scary right?!).
Stiff Mary Roach
Makes you think about death. Very funny though, and talks about something that people usually don’t like to talk about too much. Good if you like science and aren’t squeamish.
Beyond Brilliance Lucas Miller
Argues there’s no such thing as being naturally gifted. (Most) Every skill can be acquired if you take the right approach, and it provides strategies.
A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
Funny and satirical. Kinda cringey and requires a certain (dry) sense of humor.
Catch 22 Joseph Heller
War satire. Same as above, though maybe more poignant, also somewhat dry in its humor, but more inclusive.