A summer dozen: NPS MedicineWise staff picks for summer reading

Published in Medicinewise Living

Date published: About this date

If you are looking for holiday reads for yourself or others that will inspire, challenge, empower, demystify or simply entertain, have a look at some NPS MedicineWise staff suggestions from our own favourites.

What are your favourite medicinewise reads? Join the discussion on our facebook page.

Books to help you get more from your health care

Want to play an active role in your own health care, but feel like it’s an unequal playing field? These books will help you navigate the system, by explaining key issues and the questions that will help you make your decisions.

Smart health choices

Les Irwig, Judy Irwig, Lyndal Trevena and Melissa Sweet

Available as a free pdf download, this book is all about empowering yourself with questions and knowledge to make better choices in your health – essential ingredients for being medicinewise.

10 questions you must ask your doctor

Ray Moynihan and Melissa Sweet

Full of helpful tips about how to become a better informed patient, this is a book that belongs on every family bookshelf. ( Melissa Sweet blogs and tweets at Croakey).

101 things your GP would tell you if only there was time

Gillian Deakin

An indispensable hands-on guide to negotiating the management of your health, written by an Australian GP.

Testing treatments

Imogen Evans, Hazel Thornton, Iain Chalmers, Paul Glasziou

How do you know whether one treatment is better than another, or whether the evidence about a treatment’s benefits and harms is reliable? Testing treatments “urges everyone to get involved in improving current research and future treatment, and outlines practical steps that patients and health professionals can take together to do this”.

An interactive web-version is also available

Powerful Medicines

Jerry Avorn

To quote the late US Senator Edward Kennedy this book “is a must read for anyone interested in the use, abuse, and economics of prescription drugs.”

Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health

H. Gilbert Welch, Lisa Schwartz, Steve Woloshin

While healthcare and health technology is better than ever before, this book suggests we are at risk of suffering from “overdiagnosis”. It reveals the social, medical, and economic ramifications of a healthcare system that overdiagnoses and overtreats patients.

Books with a medicines flavour

Everybody has a medical story that has touched them. These books are a mixture of true stories and fiction, and not surprisingly, it’s hard to say which are more fascinating.

Gone viral

Frank Bowden

If you’ve ever wondered what happened to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) or asked yourself why smallpox is the only disease to be eradicated by vaccination, this is the book for you. A colourful memoir by Dr Frank Bowden: read a review in this month’s Australian Prescriber.

Six Months in Sudan

James Maskalyk

Great read about a doctor’s experience in Sudan, with plenty of examples of the human costs of not having access to medicines.

Lorenzo and his parents

The true story behind the movie, Lorenzo’s Oil, about a family’s experience of adrenoleukodystrophy, a rare genetic disease. Lorenzo’s parents’ determination led to the discovery of a treatment that extended Lorenzo’s life.

Still Alice

Lisa Genova

Written by an American neuroscientist and columnist for the US National Alzheimer’s association, this novel is a fictionalised account of a woman who develops early-onset Alzheimer's disease at the age of 50. Described as “a fascinating 'through the looking glass' tale that gives the reader a true sense of what it might be like to experience Alzheimer's disease first-hand.”

Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

Atul Gawande

A surgeon and writer for the New York Times, Atul Gawande writes honestly and compellingly about the challenges of a demanding profession, and the forces that work for and against better performance. The book explores these complexities using three examples: the importance of hand-washing, health care delivery in India, and the role of doctors in ‘legal’ executions. 

Cutting for stone

Abraham Verghese

A fictional family history story of surgery & medicine in Ethiopia – the final clincher arises due to a serious prescribing error.