What do beaches, BBQs and books have in common besides starting with the same letter? They’re also some of my favorite things to indulge in during the summer. For me, this summer will be my “last” summer vacation and I planned to use this time to catch up on a lot of “leisurely” reading. I’ve learned so much during my first year of medical school but there were definitely so many important issues that just weren’t covered in our curriculum.
Below you’ll find 5 books and 1 documentary about a variety of topics that I’m interested in or want to learn more about. Some are clearly health-related and some speak to topics that intersect with health. Thanks to my friends for many of these recommendations!
1. What the Eyes Don’t See by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha
This NY Times Notable book tells the story of the Flint water crisis from the point of view of an activist physician who discovered that the water in Flint was poisoned. It follows her as Dr. Hanna-Attisha uses her voice to boldly call attention to the injustice being perpetuated on her patients.
2. Fatal Invention by Dr. Dorothy Roberts
Dorothy Roberts is a law and sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has become a leading critic on the role of race in medicine. In this book, she pointedly lays out the evidence against the myth of biological races and explains how and why those categories came to exist.
3. Code Blue by Dr. Mike Magee
Code Blue provides a look into the American “Medical Industrial Complex” from a former insider – Mike Magee. Dr. Mike Magee is a physician, medical historian and former executive at a large hospital and at an international pharmaceutical company. This book highlights the profit-driven interactions between pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers and hospital administrators that leave Americans with higher costs and poorer outcomes.
4. The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu
This NY Times’ Best Seller provides an in-depth look into one of the most important issues of our time – immigration and the crisis at our Southern Border. The current state of our border is a humanitarian and public health disaster. Francisco Cantu, a former Border Patrol officer, provides a nuanced and personal look into the conditions at our border and the people that traverse and inhabit those areas.
5. Dopesick by Beth Macy
Another defining public health issue of our time is the opioid addiction epidemic. In NY Times bestseller Dopesick, Beth Macy traces the crisis from its early origins to the current nationwide reality. She includes hours-long in-depth interviews with users, medical workers, and even a convicted heroin dealer. This comprehensive look at the epidemic is both thorough and highly personal, providing human faces to a oft-politicized problem.
Documentary: City of Joy
The City of Joy center was founded by Dr. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist and Nobel Peace Prize winner along with other activists. It serves as a rehabilitation center for women in Bukavu and other parts of the DRC who have been victims of sexual violence. Due to international demand for minerals found in this region, the DRC has been engulfed in seemingly endless conflict for decades. These conflicts have been notoriously brutal and militiamen often utlize rape as a tool of terror. This documentary shows how women are given space in this center to heal, to learn new skills, and to become advocates for their communities. While the situation is infuriating, it is inspiring to see the work being done by this passionate physician and his partners.
Hopefully this list inspires you to read at least one thing other than First Aid this summer. If you’ve read any of these mentioned, let me know! Also, if there’s a related book, documentary or other form of media that you recommend please leave it below in the comments for everyone!