Books in the FASTLANE 001

“Oh no,  not another goddam series of posts to follow on LITFL!”, you cry.

Relax would ya.

This is the first of an occasional series of posts where I’ll pull together a bunch of book recommendations from our beloved R&R crew. It seems that this posse of medical uber geeks likes to read stuff other than journal articles. I’ve asked them all which books they’d recommend emergency medicine and critical care should or must read — for whatever reason. I’ll be grouping them into loosely woven themes, but the recommendations can be anything — fiction, non-fiction, classic literature, self-help, poetry, comics, pop-up books… you name it.

The theme for the first edition of Books in the FASTLANE is:

‘Reading for kicks and giggles, sometimes amidst despair and darkness’

Here are the 5 recommendations:

Shit my Dad Says by Justin Halpern

“About a guy who moves back in with his father. Book is basically quotes from the dad, and they are funny as hell. His dad is a physician, I think, but this book isn’t medical. Just good old fashion family fun.”
— Rob Rogers

I read this book based on Rob’s recommendation and my zygomaticus majors were aching afterwards from the work out. Interestingly, my own father didn’t seem to think there was anything odd about the fatherly advice given in this book…

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

“Outrageously funny – the original LOL. Despair and darkness.”
— Gerard Fennessy

“The book that was read, just at that epiphanal moment of angst-ridden teen-hood, which demonstrated that the world of adult-hood upon which one was just about to embark, was no better grounded in sense, than that of the one just about to be left. I will be forever grateful for the reminder that life is based upon the ridiculous, and the mostly meaningless. The medical references were also close to perfect.”
— Michelle Johnston

This is also one of my own all time favourites. From my own short stint in the NZ Army, I can assure this book is more realistic than it seems. Furthermore, the practice of emergency medicine and war seem to have a lot of features in common.

I hate myself and want to die. The 52 most depressing songs you’ve ever heard by Tom Reynolds.

“Had a bad day? plug in your ipad and read this. Funny, witty and not depressing at all!”
— Heike Geduld

I’ve added this to my reading list!

House of God by Samuel Shem

“This is the one book every medical student and intern in my generation seemed to have devoured. Scabrous and still wildly funny, it reads like an episode of “Marcus Welby” directed by Antonin Artaud. As John Updike pointed out in an introduction to the 1993 reprint, the novel “did for medical training what ‘Catch-22′ did for military life”. Absolutely indispensable, even 30 years later.”
— Leon Gussow

Without out doubt a must read for any doctor — it is still relevant. Check out this excerpt on ‘how not to diagnose amyloidosis’.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

“Always difficult to choose the best novel by my favourite author ever. But this, slightly lesser known one, is pretty much perfect. Funny, lots of time bending, intensely well observed, and beautifully worded, has to get the prize, amongst his incomparable joys and gifts to the world.”
— Michelle Johnston

The early death of Douglas Adams was truly tragic. I wish he was still here. All of his books are brilliant – humorous and fanciful, but strangely spot on about the place of us humans in the universe I suspect. This is what happened when Doug met Struan Sutherland.

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  1. says

    The scene in catch22 where the soldier in full body cast gets his IV and catheter bag swapped each day is brilliant. I have often thought of this on the ICU when we are guessing fluid status!
    Nice choice

    • says

      :-) yes -- the genius of his circular logic. So many medical pearls in there -- I also liked the management of those presenting to the medical tent -- if you weren’t febrile you had your gums and toes painted with gentian violet, and given a laxative, which you then threw into the bushes.

      • Amanda Villis says

        Love the list- have read and loved them all! Catch 22 was the first book I remember reading where I did, literally, LOL on the train :)

  2. Casey says

    The couch stuck on the stairwell -- too funny, only a true nerd can appreciate that type of humor!
    RIP Douglas