Tag Archives: Medicine

The Wellcome Book Prize Longlist 2017

Wellcome Book Prize 2017 Longlist

The Wellcome Book Prize is awarded to a fiction or non-fiction book about health or medicine. Since its launch in 2009, there has been a shortlist of six books but this year, there is a longlist of twelve books for the very first time. The nominated books which were announced today are:

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Four Non-Fiction Books I’ve Read Recently

The Outrun Amy LiptrotShortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize earlier this year and winner of the Wainwright Prize, The Outrun by Amy Liptrot is a memoir about her descent into alcoholism and subsequent recovery after returning to her childhood home of Orkney at the age of thirty. There is a stark contrast between Liptrot’s hipster lifestyle in east London in her twenties where her addiction to alcohol led to relationship breakdowns, job losses and a driving conviction and the contemplative days spent observing corncrakes and living on the remote island of Papa Westray with a population of just seventy. Above all, it is a book which explores the meaning of connections, whether it is through people, places, drugs, wildlife or technology. Much like the excellent H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, it successfully brings together a moving narrative of trauma with nature appreciation and could be a contender for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction (formerly known as the Samuel Johnson Prize) ahead of the longlist announcement next month. Continue reading

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Bodies of Light and Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss

Bodies of Light Sarah MossI really enjoyed reading Night Waking by Sarah Moss which told the story of Dr Anna Bennett, an academic living on the Scottish island of Colsay with her husband and young children, who sets out to uncover the mystery behind how the bones of an infant came to be buried in her garden. Her narrative is interspersed with letters written by May Moberley, a maternity nurse sent to the island to investigate the high infant mortality rate during the 1870s. ‘Bodies of Light’ is a very loose sequel which picks up the historical strand of the story focusing on other members of the Moberley family living in Manchester during the 1860s and 1870s. The novel is a coming-of-age tale of May’s older sister Ally who becomes one the first female students to read medicine in London. However, while their mother Elizabeth is a progressive social campaigner devoted to helping the destitute in the slums of Manchester, she is also a deeply repressed woman who offers no warmth at all towards her husband Alfred or her daughters. Continue reading

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It’s All in Your Head by Suzanne O’Sullivan

It's All In Your Head Suzanne O'SullivanWinner of the Wellcome Book Prize last month, ‘It’s All in Your Head: Stories from the Frontline of Psychosomatic Illness’ by Suzanne O’Sullivan is a collection of case studies about patients who have been diagnosed with psychosomatic disorders. Based on her clinical experience as a consultant neurologist, O’Sullivan recounts the stories of some of her patients whose medically unexplained illnesses are thought to be “physical symptoms that mask emotional distress”. Continue reading

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The Wellcome Book Prize 2016

2016 Wellcome Book Prize shortlist

Yesterday, I went to an event at the Wellcome Collection in London to hear the six authors nominated for this year’s Wellcome Book Prize discuss their shortlisted books. The annual award is open to works of fiction and non-fiction which engage with some aspect of health, illness or medicine, or “the ultimate human subject” as chair Anne Karpf said in her introduction.

The books on this year’s shortlist are:

  • Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss
  • The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman
  • Playthings by Alex Pheby
  • It’s All in Your Head by Suzanne O’Sullivan
  • The Outrun by Amy Liptrot

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Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Being MortalHaving greatly enjoyed ‘Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery’ by Henry Marsh late last year, I wanted to read ‘Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine, and What Matters in the End’ by Atul Gawande, a book which formed the basis of the Reith lectures entitled ‘The Future of Medicine’ on BBC Radio 4 last year. Gawande is a writer and practicing surgeon based in Massachusetts who has published three other books about medicine. In ‘Being Mortal’, he tackles the wider issue of mortality addressing the process of aging, dying and death, without focusing on a specific area of healthcare or even his own career. Continue reading

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Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

Do No HarmNow approaching retirement after working as a senior consultant at St George’s Hospital in London since 1987, ‘Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery’ is Henry Marsh’s reflection on a long and distinguished career in neurosurgeon. Yet the first sentence of the opening chapter is rather disconcerting to say the least, especially coming from one of the most experienced neurosurgeons in the UK: “I often have to cut into the brain and it is something I hate doing.” Having encountered a significant number of highs and lows throughout his career, it is soon clear this isn’t something Marsh has ever taken for granted. Continue reading

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