Tag Archives: Medical

How to Grow a Baby by Clemmie Hooper

How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out: A guide to pregnancy and birth straight  from the midwife's mouth: Hooper, Clemmie: 9781785040382: Amazon.com: Books

Title: How to Grow a Baby
Author: Clemmie Hooper
Rating Out of 5: 2.5 (Readable, but not worth reading again)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Non-fiction, Pregnancy
Dates read: 17th August – 21st October 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Vermilion
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: It is around 37.5cm long (from head to toe, but it is curled up inside you).


Everything you wanted to know but were too embarrassed to ask – a guide to pregnancy and birth straight from the midwife’s mouth.

Mum to four and midwife to many, Clemmie Hooper wants to share her knowledge, wisdom and stories about pregnancy and birth. Based around the time of your antenatal appointments, she’ll guide you through each crucial stage of pregnancy as well as fully preparing you for labour, birth and beyond. From how to prevent tearing to what you really need in your hospital bag, Clemmie reveals everything pregnant women need to know with a good dose of humour and wit.


Probably not one of my favourite pregnancy books of late. I think partly that was because this was very UK based, and it was a little more decisive in advice than others. Plus, Up the Duff was amazing, and I don’t think much actually compares to it.

Having said that, I didn’t mind this book. It was interesting and did have some good information. Just not much that is pertinent to me. I mean, I’m Australian, it makes somethings hard to relate to in a UK based book.

Regardless of the fact that I didn’t necessarily love this, it was still worth the read. Still a book that I enjoyed and found some useful information in.

I’ll probably flick through this book another few times our if interests sake. But, not one I feel the need to ever read cover to cover again.

<- More pregnancyMore medical ->

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air: Kalanithi, Paul: 9781784701994: Books - Amazon.ca

Title: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Death, Medical, Memoirs
Dates read: 2nd – 13th October 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Vintage Books
Year: 2016
5th sentence, 74th page: The surgeon got to work, passed a small endoscope through Matthew’s nose, and drilled off the floor of his skull.


What do you do when life is catastrophically interrupted?
What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away? 8 What makes life worth living in the face of death

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student in search of what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and new father.


I knew that I was probably going to shed at least a few tears at the end of this book. I mean, it’s a book written by a man who is terminally ill. It’s going to make you cry. I didn’t quite expect how much I cried though. Partly because I didn’t think that it would be the epilogue written by Kalanithi’s wife that would really set me off… maybe not the best book to read when you’re pregnant and hormonal.

When Breath Becomes Air is incredibly humbling. It is filled with reminders that your world can change in a moment and everything you worked towards can just be ripped away. Yet, even though Paul was writing this in his final months and knew what was coming for him, he writes in such a way that you feel… at peace with his fate. Having been around numerous people with a terminal illness, reading about someone who faced their diagnosis head on like this… as I said, humbling.

The first part of this memoir focuses on Kalanithi’s decision to become a neuroscientist. About his constant battle to find a meaning in life where he isn’t entirely sure there is one. I love that he talks about his love for both literature and science. And how instead of being independent of each other (an assumption I’ve often come up against), they build upon one another. You can feel the passion for both fields streaming off the page as you read about Kalanithi’s numerous experiences and a life well lived.

This is one of those amazing memoirs that makes you feel… well, everything. It definitely left me feeling a little bit raw. But, mostly it just made me feel humble and aware of all of my own faults. But not in a bad way. I know that I couldn’t go through a terminal diagnosis like Kalanithi with the kind of calm and grace that he shows. And it’s kind of nice to read the words of someone who actually was capable of doing so.

<- Lab GirlIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) ->

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Expecting Better by Emily Oster

Expecting Better, Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What  You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster | 9781409177920 | Booktopia

Title: Expecting Better
Author: Emily Oster
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Non-fiction, Pregnancy
Dates read: 17th August – 25th September 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text, Novel
Publisher: Orion Spring
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: In one study the miscarriage rate was 4.4 percent for women under 20, 6.7 percent for women 20 to 35 and almost 19 percent for women over 35.


Award-winning economist Emily Oster debunks myths about pregnancy to empower women while they’re expecting.

When Oster was expecting her first child, she felt powerless to make the right decisions for her pregnancy, so she drew on her own experience and went in search of the real facts – by using an economist’s tool.

In Expecting Better she overturns standard recommendations for:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • sush
  • bed rest
  • miscarriage
  • induction

She also puts into context the blanket guidelines for antenatal testing, weight gain, risks of pregnancy over the age of thirty-five, and nausea, among others.


This was an incredibly unique take and spin on the whole pregnancy thing. Most of the time it out and out disagreed with what we see as the conventional wisdom. And, whilst I may not agree with everything in this, I was most definitely intrigued with the ideas and discussions set forth.

Although I didn’t necessarily agree with everything in this book, I did love how the evidence was presented. That, and the fact that as Oster pointed out, everyone has different cost / benefit analyses and so should be equally educated. It also made me feel better about the little bit of caffeine I consume every week in my one or two coffees… that alone made me incredibly happy.

I also loved that throughout this Oster used numbers to weigh up the evidence. I may not be great at doing statistical analysis, but I am good at understanding it and using this to weigh up my decision making. In fact, there’s been a few more controversial topics / decisions in my pregnancy which have used pretty much the same system.

All in all, I found this to be a very, very worthwhile buy. As I said, there were some things I just didn’t agree with, but as Oster points out, she looked at the numbers and made her decision. I (or her friends) look at them and make another choice. It certainly made me feel a lot more settled and comfortable in my pregnancy decision making.

<- More pregnancy booksMore medical books ->

Image source: Booktopia

The Gap by Benjamin Gilmour

The Gap by Benjamin Gilmour - Penguin Books Australia

Title: The Gap
Author: Benjamin Gilmour
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Memoirs, Mental health
Dates read: 22nd – 25th August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Viking
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: I lean down beside our patient and speak in a whisper so no one will hear.


Benjamin Gilmour has been a paramedic for more than twenty years. He has seen his fair share of drama. But the summer of 2008 remains etched in his memory for the very worst reasons.

In this riveting memoir, Gilmour recounts the call-outs that summer: some dangerous, some gruesome, some downright ridiculous. And we meet fellow paramedic John who, they say, can get a laugh out of everyone except the dead. As they city heats up, however, even John begins to lose his sense of humour. People are unravelling – and Benjamin and John are no exception.

The Gap is a vivid portrait of the lead-up to Christmas; an unflinching, no-holds-barred look at what happens after the triple-zero call is made – the drugs, nightclubs, brothels, drunk rich kids, billionaires, domestic disputes, the elderly, emergency births, even a kidnapping. Patients share their innermost feelings, and we witness their loneliness, their despair and their hopes. 88 BB Beautifully written and sharply observed, The Gap exposes the fragility of our lives and the lengths that paramedics will go to try to save us.


I honestly just bought this because I needed a book with an ambulance on the cover. I really didn’t expect this to be such an amazing emotional rollercoaster ride. It was just… words can’t describe. I just don’t have the words to describe what it felt like to read this book. There’s such a potent emotional ride that had me reading this story until late in the night. Bated breath and eyes burning.

I knew that being a paramedic is an incredibly mentally taxing career. I know a few people who work in the field and the mental toll that it can take on a person. But, Gilmour’s words add a whole other layer of context to this reality. It provides faces and personalities to an issue that we all know is there. Provides a face to the trials, tribulations and tragedies of paramedics and those working within the health sector. It also kind of broke my heart throughout as I read about the daily life and experiences of Benjamin and his partners.

The title didn’t really mean much to me at the beginning of this novel. I mean, cool, it’s called The Gap, but that meant literally nothing to my brain. Then I read the opening paragraphs – and the title began to make much more sense. Which wasn’t necessarily a good thing. I mean, you knew some of this was going to be a tough read because it’s about a day in the life of a paramedic. When there is a spot that he is frequently called to that is known for suicides…it’s going to be a whole new kettle of fish and difficulties.

I’ve been on a good run of books lately. Read a few that, once I close the final page, I just lie there, staring at the ceiling. This was most definitely one of them. Although Gilmour deals with the very serious issues of mental health and wellbeing, there is humour and light throughout his words. Some incredibly difficult real world realities are faced up to, but they are paired off with some of the more ridiculous adventures of the paramedics. It shows you that whenever there is dark, you can also find some light.

<- CommittedTalking as Fast as I Can ->

Image source: Penguin Books Australia

Gray’s Anatomy by Henry Gray

Barnes and Noble | Grays Anatomy | Henry Gray P.R.S — Heebie Jeebies

Title: Gray’s Anatomy
Author: Henry Gray
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, MedicalNon-fiction
Dates read: 18th February – 11th May 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Barnes and Noble Leatherbound
Year: 1858
5th sentence, 74th page: When a small quantity can be collected, it is found to resemble lymph, and like tha tfluid coagulates sponatneously; but when secreted in large quanities, as in dropsy, it is a more watery fluid, but still contains a considerable amount of proteid which is coagulated on boiling.


No longer need you search through second-hand bookstores for a scarce, used copy of this grandfather of all anatomy books. It is here in this unabridged facsimile of the 1901 edition — with a full 1,257 pages and 827 illustrations!


I started reading this because I wanted to understand a bit more about human anatomy for my Jiu Jitsu. I mean, how else can you figure out how best to bend people and make them tap if you don’t know how bodies work? It didn’t necessarily quite work that way. But it was still a supremely interesting read.

The language in this is hard going. Which is kind of expected, because it is a textbook. And it is most definitely of the sort that I will have to read again and again to even get a drop of the knowledge in this textbook. But, it’s also presented in a way that is actually quite accessible.

Human anatomy has always perplexed and confused me (for whatever reason, animal anatomy makes sense to me when human doesn’t, go figure). So I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of the writing in this went completely over my head. But, I still enjoyed it.

This is an awesome, beautiful book to have on my shelves. The fact that it is the Barnes and Noble Leatherbound edition just makes it all that much prettier and fun. Definitely a book I will flick through again and again.

<- The Complete Sherlock HolmesFairytales from Around the World ->

Image source: Heebie Jeebies

This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor: Kay, Adam:  9781509858637: Amazon.com: Books

Title: This Is Going to Hurt
Author: Adam Kay
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Humour, Medical, Memoirs
Dates read: 18th – 19th December 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Today crossed the line from everyday patient idiocy to me checking around the room for hidden cameras.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide


97-hour weeks. Life and death decisions.
A constant tsunami of bodily fluids.
And the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.


This story had me laughing out loud. And giggling. And reading a lot of parts of this story out to my partner. Much to his chagrin… he doesn’t like anything medical or any hint of blood, so telling him all about it just didn’t go down well. But I had to share. Because there is wit, humour and awesomeness right throughout this novel.

I’ve seen this novel in my suggested readings again and again. But it wasn’t until the Black Friday sales that I finally decided that I may as well buy it. Quite possibly one of the better decisions that I’ve made. This story introduced me not only to the world of medicine but reminded me how humour can help you to deal with some of the crappier things in life.

This year has been a horrifying year, and part of that for me was deciding to give up a career path that I have been working towards for years. The fact that Kay gives up his career path six years into the career made me feel a heck of a lot better about my own decisions. Particularly when I read the final passages of this book. It is completely understandable why Kay decided to choose a new path. And, although tragic, gave hope for the new life that he decided to build.

Surprisingly, this novel did actually hurt. That final diary entry just tore at my heart. And the fact that it’s all true, and I have a few girlfriends who are currently pregnant… yeah, it most definitely “hurt”. Although it also made me laugh and smile. So it was also a brilliant, fun journey.

<- Why Not Me?Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas ->

Image source: Amazon

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

Title: Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas
Author: Adam Kay
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Humour, Medical, Memoirs
Dates read: 17th December 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘As you know, this is standard policy’ is HR’s default line – as if being routinely malevolent is somehow better than dishing out acts of spite on an ad-hoc basis.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide


Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat… but 1.4 million NHS staff are heading off to work. In this perfect present for anyone who has ever set foot in a hospital, Adam Kay delves back into his diaries for a hilarious, horrifying and sometimes heartbreaking peek behind the blue curtain.

Twas the Night Before Christmas is a love letter to all those who spend their festive season on the front line, removing babies and baubles from the various places they get stuck, at the most wonderful time of the year.


This was most definitely the type of Christmas book that I needed this year – I haven’t really felt in the Christmas spirit and I liked that this one wasn’t all about joy and light. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of humour and spark to this novel that doesn’t make it glum and humbuggy. But it’s also a much more realistic, and less painful look into the Christmas season and what it really means…

I probably should have read This is Going to Hurt before Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas, but I am absolutely enamored with the tone and style of Kay’s writing. So, immediately after finishing this, I did actually pick up his first book. It’s hard to write about such a serious topic with a bit of lighthearted humour and tone. Particularly when you’re focusing in on the time of year when everyone else is busy trying to shove that good cheer down your throat…

If you’re not really in the Christmas spirit, or just want a good laugh. I can most definitely suggest this as a good, light read. Not only will it have you smiling and laughing, but it will also make you really appreciate the people who are on the front lines year-round. Those who put aside their own lives to the benefit of our own.

<- This is Going to HurtSmoky the Brave ->

Image source: Goodreads

Twelve Patients by Dr. Eric Manheimer, MD

Twelve Patients : Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital - Eric Manheimer

Title: Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital
Author: Dr. Eric Manheimer, MD
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Memoirs
Dates read: 4th – 20th March 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘From the cavernous echo of his cough and the darkened skin within the triangular radiation markins in black ink on his back, his lung cancer was advanced.


Bellevue is famous for its psych ward, but it’s much more than that.
The largest public hospital in New York City, it’s also where doctors treat everyone from the bluebloods of Park Avenue to the illegal immigrants who huddle in Chinatown’s tenements. In its way, Bellevue is a microcosm of the world – and a bellwether for the toughest issues in our country.


In this riveting book, Dr. Eric Manheimer, the hospital’s former medical director, uses stories taken from case histories to humanize hot-button issues such as immigration, obesity, teen suicide, and the cost of health care. You will get to know Jeffrey, the homeless man with the brilliant past, and Arnie, a prominent Wall Street financier, whose emergency room visit for chest pains unravels a toxic lifestyle. Dr. Manheimer takes readers from teh boardrooms where health-care budgets are debated to the emergency room on a night when New York’s stretched-to-capacity hospitals overflow – and mistakes get made.

The author is not just a doctor – he’s also a patient. After being diagnosed with throat cancer, Dr. Manheimer takes us on a tour through the shadowland between life and death.


When I found out that one of my new favourite series, New Amsterdam, was based on a book, I immediately jumped online and bought it (which may be why I don’t have great savings…). And once I started reading it? I was very pleasantly surprised. Not only was it as good as the TV show, in some instances it was better – something about the words really hit home as to the intensity of the social and political issues which Manheimer brings to light in each of his chapters.

From the very title, it’s pretty obvious that this book has twelve chapters, each of which focuses on its own patient. What I didn’t realise was how potent and intense each of these stories would be. Normally when I love a book this much, I just lap it up in a matter of days (sometimes hours). But because of the subject matter throughout this book, I found myself lingering over a few weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed picking this up late at night and reading a small handful of pages just before bed. Anytime that I wanted to truly think about things and how difficult the world can be, I loved to pick this up. But it wasn’t the kind of book I would just read to escape for half an hour.

Although I’m not American, many of the issues and difficulties that Manheimer brings to light in his reminiscing are still issues that are faced in Australia. Alright, some are uniquely American – we don’t really have a wall in which to keep out gangsters (there’s a number of giant oceans instead), but racism, labelling, mental health issues… these are all things that we too need to face and deal with. Aspects of our lives which are intense and difficult, but can’t just be swept under the rug. After all, we need to deal with the nastiness if we are ever to move forward and create a better future…

Twelve Patients was everything that I was expecting and more. It gave me insight not only into the social and political demographics of New York, but it also provided a great insight into the outlay of the American Health System. Which kind of terrifies me. The little I know of the Australian one is much more sound and comforting… this novel not only swept me away and enthralled me, but it also just generally filled my head with wonderful new information. Not necessarily about the mechanics of the medical system, but the emotional, social and physical drains which are placed upon people who are in the system. The mental health of people. And just how some can find themselves in the worst of situations… and survive.

<- Heart BerriesBlack Saturday ->

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Invincible Microbe by Jim Murphy & Alison Blank

Image result for book cover invincible microbe

Title: Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure
Author: Jim Murphy & Alison Blank
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Non-fiction
Dates read: 14th – 17th March 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: There was absolutely no scientific basis for this assertion.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

A killer as old as the human race has been humankind’s constant, lethal companion. This killer was nameless and faceless for thousands of years, mysteriously striking in endless waves and claiming millions upon millions of lives. Then the disease was given a name – tuberculosis, or TB – and when the microscopic TB germ was finally identified, scientists hoped to conquer it. yet, in spite of medical advances and the discovery of several promising “cures”, this invincible microbe continues to change and flourish among us today.


I read this at the beginning of the insanity attached to COVID-19 in Australia. When toilet paper was being hoarded and people were just generally going nuts. And it kind of felt like a really good time to read about a microbe based disease. Alright, there are a lot of differences between TB and Corona, but there were also SO many similarities!

I do have a background in biology (although I focus on environmental biology), so my basic understanding of diseases such as TB and others is fairly sound. Yet, even if I didn’t have this background, I would find this book incredibly informative. Murphy and Blank are able to inform the reader about the journey of TB without getting too scientific. A great read for those who want to find out more but don’t have the science background.

The history of a prominent disease is always going to be kind of fascinating. Not just because it’s the history of an important aspect of science (discovering that microbes can in fact cause death), but also because it provides an insight into the people and cultures of the time. From the beginning of Sanitoriums and the isolation of patients to the understanding of contagions… the discovery of TB and the race to find a cure were a fascinating story.

To end out this book, the status of TB today is talked about. And, more importantly, it’s potential to mutate into an untreatable version. Something which is always a risk when dealing with a disease that can mutate. It serves as both a message of hope for the treatment in the future, and a pretty dire warning as to what could be just around the corner. A little scary, but definitely something worth thinking about. Especially in the global climate today.

 <- More medical reviewsMore non-fiction reviews ->

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The Chamber Music of Animals by Katherine Vaz

Image result for coyote road book cover

Title: The Chamber Music of Animals
Author: Katherine Vaz
In: The Coyote Road (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Music, Tricksters
Dates read: 28th April 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: She’d consumed nothing but coffee all day; no wonder she ached with heartburn.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Sophie has lost her husband, and now cancer is threatening to take away her only son. Does the power of music have the ability to battle away the awful disease?


I’m really glad that this story didn’t have a sad ending. I was fully expecting it to, after all, Sofia had already lost her husband, and she was incredibly close to losing her son to cancer. Although this tale is in a collection about tricksters, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have trickster tales that are sad. Rather than their usual witty, entertaining journeys.

Monkeys are often tricksters in mythology. They’re the characters which run amok through the lives of people and change the world around them. Just by creating chaos. And believe me, if you’ve ever watched a troop of monkeys, or apes, you can understand how their presence can incite change and align them with the tricksters of myth and legend. Which means that it was probably about time for a monkey to show up in The Coyote Road.

The parallel running of this story worked really nicely throughout. There are the battles which Sofia is fighting for her son. The life that her mother is trying to live with a broken leg, and an incredibly sick grandson. And finally, the music and internal war that Rangy is fighting to save a well-loved boy. Even if he has been left in the cupboard for years on end…

 <- Crow Roads ReviewUncle Bob Visits Review ->
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