To Your Health
12 Health Books Everybody Needs
Some are good references, others are good reads; all will advance your understanding of illness and health
You: On A Diet My favorite edition in the You series (I also like You: The Owner’s Manual) by celeb docs Mehmet Oz and Michael F. Roizen fortifies smart weight-loss advice with sound science about hormones, digestion and other aspects of nutrition. $25.
Body: The Complete Human At $40, this oversize volume from National Geographic is better as a library pick than a purchase. It covers all the body’s systems in an invitingly packaged way, with lots of diagrams and photos. Each section is sprinkled with fascinating factoids (Did you know that your kidneys process 423 gallons of blood a day?).
Questions Patients Need to Ask Written by 53 doctors, nurses and hospital administrators at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, this new book demystifies hospital procedures, from admission to discharge, with key questions you should pose. Required reading for anyone facing hospitalization. $19.99.
Fit To Live: The 5-Point Plan To Be Lean, Strong, and Fearless for Life Pamela Peeke, M.D., studied the connection between stress and weight at the N.I.H. Her book draws on her experience as a researcher and clinician in offering strategies for staying fit and lean. $26.95.
Should I Be Tested for Cancer? Could be the best $15 you ever spend. Author H. Gilbert Welch, M.D., M.P.H., takes a cool, statistical approach in analyzing the effectiveness of cancer screening, coming to some surprising conclusions about which tests we should and shouldn’t have.
Our Bodies Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth I cut my teeth on the ground-breaking original volume by the Boston Women’s Health Group, published almost 30 years ago, which demystified our bodies. Their newest title ($15) will help you make informed choices when getting pregnant and having a baby.
The Pill Book This valuable reference, cataloguing side effects and interactions of more than 1,800 popular drugs is well-organized and easy to use. It’s been upstaged by drugs.com, an independent website that catalogues 24,000 medications. If you prefer a paperback to a computer screen, pick up the 13th edition, $7.50.
My Stroke of Insight Harvard-trained brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor suffered a catastrophic stroke at 38. She vividly chronicles the decay of her faculties and the eight years of rehabilitation that restored brain function. Must reading for anybody who knows anybody with a brain injury. $24.95.
Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance Atul Gawande, a Boston surgeon, has taken over from Groopman as my favorite doctor/writer. His latest title tackles issues that affect patient care, from hand-washing (or lack thereof) to malpractice suits. $14.
How Doctors Think ($15.95) and The Anatomy of Hope ($14.95) by New Yorker writer Jerome Groopman, M.D., examine the practice of medicine from every angle. If all of us on both sides of the doctor/patient relationship read this book, it ‘d make for more effective, happier medicine.
How We Die In this pop-med classic, Sherwin B. Nuland, M.D., meticulously chronicles what happens as the body shuts down. Gripping, though not for the faint of heart. $14.95.