Doctors regularly come up against illness and suffering. These are the ghosts that haunt the corridors of hospitals, the phantom visitors to countless wards. Are we, as a medical fraternity, really comfortable with these challenging maladies? Or do we flinch and recoil at the prospect of addressing these fearsome scourges head-on?
And then there is death, the five letter word that strikes terror in the hearts of all mortals. The ever-looming shadow over human existence. Death, the invincible menace that hovers over the living. Or is it? Is mortality really the monster our imaginations conjure up? Or does death have a useful meaning? Is there some purpose behind the acts of the grim reaper?
Over the following weeks, The Doctors Bookshelf will try and unmask the truth behind death and its harbingers, illness and suffering. We will attempt to get under the skin of our most dreadful horrors and our inescapable terrors. We will explore 13 books as our guides to understanding these agents of apprehension. We will learn from heroes who have faced these formidable phenomena with dignity. And we will learn from experts who have studied these disquieting predicaments at close quarters.
To kick off the series, we will first explore illness with reviews of two great books:
by philosopher and illness sufferer Havi Carell
by anthropologist-psychiatrist Arthur Kleinmann
We will then look at the meaning and significance of suffering with reviews of a pair of excellent books:
by doctor Eric Cassell
by concentration camp survivor Victor Frankl
Next we will look at the meaning of death with two great books, psychological and clinical:
by psychologists Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, and Tom Pyszczynski
by Atul Gawande
We will then explore two books by medical doctors which unmask and demystify the dying process:
by Sherwin Nuland
by Seamus O’Mahoney
We will then follow up with four excellent and touching personal accounts of dying:
by neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi
by geriatrics registrar Kate Granger
also by Kate Granger
by journalist and atheist Christopher Hitchens
Finally we will review immortality, of sorts, with the insprational tour de force:
by award-winning journalist Rebecca Skloot
So stay with The Doctors Bookshelf. Soon to set us off will be the thought-provoking and life-changing:
Illness by Havi Carell