A good book

Some books read you/ which world is real? this/the page, or a single cell/ dictating terms as you rush to work/to living, steam that floats over tea.

Yesterday night was mighty inspired by an interview of Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee. Have you read his book The Emperor of all Maladies?  It’s a biography of cancer that changes the way you think at a very cellular level.

Watch the video.

Here’s an excerpt of what I thought about the book when I just put it down and all thoughts were fresh in my mind:

This book has been like baptism with fire…..I thought at first I wouldn’t be able to complete it. Fear of disease is so etched in all of us but once a doctor like Siddhartha Mukherjee guides us through a four thousand year recorded history of the disease, awareness grows and with that comes a glimmer of understanding about the complex world of medicine, care and the inevitability of death. He talks about cancer as though it is the story of the politics within our own biochemistry, our own selves, mirrors of our extremities. Like the author hesitantly calls Cancer beautiful in the way the disease out manouevres all human efforts to curtail, I hesitantly ask you to read the book. It may change the way you understand health and your own cells.

What book has fundamentally altered the way you think?

© neelthemuse,2011

4 thoughts on “A good book Leave a comment

  1. Hmm… For me I think the book that altered my way of thinking was Orwell’s Animal Farm. When I first read it in high school I was blown away. I re-read it every year (along with several other books) and it kind of opened me up to critical thinking.

  2. There was a recent report in the press of a thesis that cancer is a reversion to the natural behaviour of single-cell organisms. If you knock out the sophisticated evolutionary add-ons, what you’re left with is the single cell’s compulsion to reproduce. It’s not my subject at all, but I found that idea fascinating.

    Books that have changed me? R.D. Laing’s “The Divided Self” – I never thought about human relationships or mental abnormality the same after. R.W. Southern’s “The Making of the Middle Ages” – just about the most sensitive, revealing, boundary-leaping history book I’ve ever read. Charles Perrow’s “Normal Accidents” – the perils of technological add-ons and tunnel vision. Iris Murdoch’s “The Bell” for the interleaving of humanity and a sense of otherness. The Lincoln – Douglas Debates – politics at both its highest and its most hilarious. Mervyn Peake’s Ghormenghast trilogy – how fantasy could be a revealing mirror and otherness at the same time. A collection of British poets of the First World War – the horror of war and the impertinent survival of humanity and a kind of beauty. Jung, Yeats, Hopkins, Jane Austen.

  3. It’s really amazing how genetic memory can wreak havoc! Really…that’s the point…we are made of cells and we don’t understand ourselves at the cellular level…..

    What a wonderful list of books you have there Simon! I’ll have to put them on my reading list…..love Hopkins and the WW poets.

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