100 Best-ish Nonfiction Titles: Food and Health, Part 2.
28 October 2011
No fooling around; Health titles today (we covered Food earlier in the week). If you'll remember, here's what Time magazine had to say:
And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts
The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, by Dr. Benjamin Spock
The Joy of Sex, by Dr. Alex Comfort
The Kinsey Reports, by Alfred Kinsey
Our Bodies, Ourselves, by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Of those, I've only read the Shilts book, which I remember as being very interesting and well worth a read. I still think most of this list is weak, and would serve more as a "well-known reference book" list more so than a list of the "best nonfiction." Why not just throw the Merck Manual or the Physicians' Desk Reference or the DSM-IV on the list and be done with it? Here are the books I'd suggest instead:
Normal: Transsexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites with Attitude, by Amy Bloom. A slim little book, packed with empathetic and fascinating stories about gender. Really. It's way more fascinating than it sounds and will blow your mind regarding the number of children born with some kind of genital, well, abnormalities isn't quite the word of I'm looking for, but issues.
Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What Is Right for You, by Jerome Groopman. If you're going to read a how-to book, read a good general one about understanding your own attitudes about and approaches to medicine and health care.
The Hot Zone, Richard Preston. It reads more like a thriller, but Preston's fast-paced story about the Ebola virus is both informative and scary as hell.
How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter, by Sherwin Nuland. He of one of my other favorite medical books, The Doctor's Plague, explains exactly how we die and the human body breaks down. Nuland himself is a doctor and makes the details, if not more palatable, at least understandable.
Nobody's Home: Candid Reflections of a Nursing Home Aide, by Thomas Edward Gass. I've been meaning to re-read this one because it stands out in my memory more than any book about nursing homes should. I think I appreciated it because it was a thoughtful read by someone actually doing the work of caring for old people. (Narratives by honest-to-goodness workers are kind of tough to find.) None of us want to die young, so let's face it, old-age care is something we have to think about.
I know I'm missing a ton of titles; I've read a surprising amount of really good health-care narratives (Pushed, about childbirth, and Normal at Any Cost, about giving growth hormones to short kids, also come to mind, but there isn't enough room on our list here for them.) What Health titles would you suggest?