Saying “medical books” brings to mind a boring textbook the size of a couch, full of huge confusing words and lots of Latin to make ordinary people feel stupid, doesn’t it?
Well, what if I told you that there are exciting, interesting books out there that are medical books. Books that are non-fiction, but read like the best fiction adventure stories.
It’s true. There’s a whole genre of books that you might not know exist and they have to do with medicine. The path that medicine has followed is full of twists, turns, blood and body snatching, deadly peril and heroic efforts. The best part is how relevant these stories are to you and the world you live in (except, you know, the body snatching.)
Interested yet? Then try these eight medical adventure books and try to resist the urge to wash your hands every half hour after reading them.
The Anatomy of Hope by Jerome Groopman
Dr. Groopman has seen many patients and been with them through times that should destroy all hope. Somehow, they keep it alive. He reflects on how and why in this uplifting book.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
How useful are a person’s cells? How much can you learn or develop from the DNA of one single human being? And how ethical is it to take those cells and use them without that person knowing about it? This book tackles those questions.
Having Faith by Sandra Steingraber
“As an ecologist, Sandra Steingraber spent her professional life observing how living things interact with their environments. Now, 38 and pregnant, she had become a habitat . . .” Steingraber walks you through the history, research, and process of pregnancy and she has the gift of making complex science clear and easy to visualize.
The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
In the summer of 1854, no one but a few wacky scientists really believed there were tiny invisible creatures that could swim around in the water and make you sick. London had millions of people, little to no infrastructure, and billions of those tiny invisible creatures. And then came the London cholera epidemic and one of those wacky doctors, John Snow, who was determined to find the scientific explanation behind all those deaths.
Kill as Few Patients as Possible by Oscar London
As you can tell from the title, Dr. London has a lot of experience as a general practitioner but he doesn’t take himself or his profession too seriously. With lots of humor, kindness, and some brutal honesty, Dr. London reflects on the challenges of practicing medicine.
Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin
As the subtitle tells you, this is “A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body.” Accessible science at its best, Shubin explains some seriously complicated processes like the fun teacher you remember from school.
Deadly Companions: How Microbes Shaped Our History by Dorothy H. Crawford
Throughout human history, our teeny companions, microbes, have come along. Changing history, shaping civilizations, affecting everything about the way we live. Crawford dives deep into how microbes have evolved along with us, mixing history and science in a fascinating account.
In an era when leeches were the answer to everything, one man had the radical idea to study the human body and how it worked. Some of his methods were pretty out there (he infected himself with an STD on purpose, for example.)
The sometimes macabre story of the scientist who was ruthlessly devoted to understanding everything about how our bodies work.