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Our best reads of 2018: Stanford Medicine communicators’ picks

Looking for a good biomedical read? Stanford Medicine communicators offer up their top picks for the year.

What stories published about medical science or health care this year made big impressions on you? Stanford Medicine Dean Lloyd Minor, MD, recently listed the books that most inspired him this year.

I asked my fellow Stanford Medicine communicators for their picks and here's what they said:

"Bad blood: Secrets and lies in a Silicon Valley startup" by John Carreyrou, Penguin Random House
How could we not be fascinated by the the story of Theranos, a startup that seemed poised to revolutionize the health care industry — until it blazed out when its claims of success were revealed to be fraudulent? Especially when it was going on under our noses: Theranos HQ was in the building right down the street from our office.
—Contributed by Paul Costello, Stanford School of Medicine's Chief Communications Officer. You can hear Paul's interview with the author on his 1:2:1 Podcast.

"Solomon Thomas: My sister 'was the light of my life'" as told to Molly Knight, Sports Illustrated
As someone who recently experienced sudden loss, the writer’s depiction of grief resonated with me. I was also struck by how honest he was about his sister’s struggles and impressed that he’s using his celebrity as a 49ers player as a platform to educate and help those struggling with mental illness.
—Contributed by Michelle Brandt, who directs digital and broadcast media.

"Susan Potter will live forever" by Cathy Newman, National Geographic (registration may be required)
I was in awe of the 15-year-long relationship that this researcher, Vic Spitzer, PhD, maintained with his patient, despite its obvious challenges, in preparation to her donating her body to science. I also thought the idea of creating not just a scanned cadaver but an actual avatar that can actually “speak” to medical students about what her injuries and ailments felt like by recording her before she passed was just amazing to me. The education of the future!
—Contributed by Jennifer Gennuso, alumni relations.

"What does it mean to die?" by Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker
A very worthwhile read about a tragedy that never should have happened. It makes you question the very definition of death.
—Contributed by Amy Jeter Hansen, writer and digital media specialist

"The winter soldier" by Daniel Mason, MD, Hachette
Enlisting at the outbreak of World War I with far more enthusiasm than experience, first-year medical student Lucius Krzelewski relies on a mysterious nurse who teaches him to care for injured soldiers at a rag-tag hospital set in the easternmost mountains of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Author and Stanford psychiatrist Daniel Mason described his book a “a medical coming of age novel.” It’s also an exquisitely detailed, captivating adventure that exposes the emotional tolls of combat and caregiving as much as the physical ones.
—Contributed by Julie Greicius, who manages media relations.

"How a transplanted face transformed Katie Stubblefield's life" by Joanna Connors, National Geographic (registration may be required)
l'm still stunned by this colossus of a story, which tells about a young woman who tragically lost her face, another woman who tragically lost her life, a pioneering team of surgeons, an intrepid writer and so much more. The photos are unforgettable.
—Contributed by Becky Bach, Scope co-editor

"Sculpture or human organ? These photos make it hard to tell," photos by Chan Dick, Wired
As I scrolled through this slideshow of photographs from Chan Dick, my face inched closer and closer to my computer screen to better puzzle out exactly what I seeing. Was that a tree? Or a lung? The underside of a fern? The interior of a cave? My confusion is just the point. By zooming in on anatomical specimens from the University of Hong Kong, the photographer allows us, the viewer, to zoom out and see all the “universes" contained within the human body.
—Contributed by Lindsey Baker, who manages communications for the Department of Medicine.

"The price of cool: a teenager, a Juul and nicotine addiction" by Jan Hoffman, New York Times
I want to scream when I hear a teen say vaping isn't bad for your health. Here's something they should read.
—Contributed by Erin Digitale, PhD, who covers pediatrics.

"Removed" by Marléne Zadig, The Rumpus
This essay is about having tonsils taken out as an adult.
—Contributed by Erin Digitale

"The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers" by Maxwell King, Abrams Books
This is a solid and thought-provoking account of Fred Rogers’s eclectic life and vitalizing work. Drawing from cultural context and revealing interviews with friends, family, and colleagues, King shows how Rogers — Presbyterian minister, pacifist, musician, writer, and far more — came to unaffectedly and engagingly help children and adults from many different backgrounds understand one another’s perspectives, contributing to both the art of storytelling and universal empathy.
—Contributed by Fabrice Palumbo-Liu, with Medical Center Development

"How an outsider in Alzheimer’s research bucked the prevailing theory - and clawed for validation" by Sharon Begley, STAT
I especially appreciated the insider view of how research gets funded (or doesn't). And it gave me some hope for a solution to Alzheimer's disease. The science is also plain fascinating: Could viruses be the cause of Alzheimer's?
—Contributed by me, Rosanne Spector, editor of Stanford Medicine magazine.

Image by João Silas

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