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Healthy Balance

Zombies, Sports, Recovery and More: Summer Reading, Part II

Need some beach reading?

Yesterday, we gave you some ideas for books about parenting and eating healthy, books Our book list includes Michael Pollan and books about zombies.with a health focus that don’t read like a textbook.

Today, we’ve got more recommendations, all from UVA doctors and staff.


“Walk On: Life from the End of the Bench”
by Alan Williams
Orthopedic surgeon David Diduch, MD
, says: “About a walk-on basketball player at Wake Forest. Endures some injuries but loves the game enough to persevere despite little hope for the spotlight. Light read.”

“Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia”
by David L. Cook and Tom Lehman
Diduch says
: “Story about a golfer who has a meltdown and redefines his game and himself. Combines fly fishing, golf, cowboys, faith and mental health — how about that combination. Short book readable in a couple of days.”

“The Art of Fielding”
by Chad Harbach, a UVA graduate
Daniel Becker, MD
, says: “The reading group I belong to, along with a group of residents and other faculty, will be reading this, a college baseball coming-of-age novel.”


“Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake”
by Anna Quindlen
Pam Dennison, RN, says:
“I love sharing the experiences and reflections of peers on this aging journey. Some of her insights align with mine; some are quite different.”

“Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son”
by Anne Lamott
Dennison, a grandmother of two, says:
“The book appealed to me to learn about someone else’s experiences with being a relatively new grandmother. …However, what this book ended up teaching me was that so much talking about one’s grandchild can just to be too much!”


“Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change”
by Timothy Wilson, a UVA psychologist and national leader in the positive psychology movement
Becker says:
“People can be happier, but it takes practice.”

“The Happiness Hypothesis”
by Jonathan Haidt, also a UVA psychologist
Becker says:
“Happiness is old news, and the ancient truths that say similar things are summarized but not trivialized in this book.”

“Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success”
by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield and Ron McMillan
Daniel McCarter, MD
, recommends this because: “Almost everyone is looking at or in need of changing some habit or habits, either stopping bad ones (smoking, drinking, overeating) or starting good ones (exercise, better sleep habits, etc). This is a book describing strategies to help individuals come up with ways that will work for them to change behaviors.”

About Medicine

Becker suggests: “Any issue of Hospital Drive, or Bellevue Literary Review or Ars Medica — literary magazines from academic medical centers.”

Becker also recommends:“Lots of doctor writers, but start with William Carlos Williams“ and “any of the books by Atul Gawande, a Harvard surgeon who writes clearly and movingly about healthcare delivery.”

“How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks about Being Sick in America”
by Otis Webb Brawley and Paul Goldberg, recommended by William Steers, MD.

“Arrowsmith”by Sinclair Lewis
Recommended by
Mark Quigg, MD.

“The Road Back”
by Michael Vitez
Jason Sheehan, MD
, says: “Consider this book about a patient treated by many physicians at UVA. Mr. Vitez is a Pulitzer-prize winning writer.”

“My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story”
by Abraham Verghese
Costi Sifri, MD
, describes this as: “memoirs of an infectious disease specialist caring for patients in Tennessee early in the epidemic.”

“And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic”
by Randy Shilts
Sifri describes this as a
“history of the beginning of the HIV epidemic.”

“Microbe: Are We Ready for the Next Plague?”
by Alan Zelicoff, MD, and Michael Bellomo.
Sifri says:
“Well written but not hyperbolic discussion along the ‘coming plague’ theme.”

Most Recommended

We had a couple of books and authors that were recommended by at least two people.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”
by Rebecca Skloot
Registered dietitian Mary Lou Perry says
: “This encompasses science, ethics and the story of a family who was terribly wronged in the pursuit of scientific research. I found myself laughing, crying and questioning the elements of informed consent.”

“Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World”
by Tracy Kidder
Becker and Sifri recommended this one.

And, if you’d like to read something by Dr. Paul Farmer himself, try, “Haiti After the Earthquake,” recommended by Sifri.


Here are a few final recommendations we couldn’t quite fit into other categories. Enjoy!

Becker says:“UVA has a terrific creative writing program, and poets Charles Wright, Debra Nystrom, Lisa Spaar, Rita Dove and Greg Orr, plus fiction writers John Casey, Ann Beattie, Deborah Eisenberg and Chris Tilghman have recent books.”

by Neal Stephenson
Becker says:
“I have a research interest in the use of computer games to simulate doctor-patient conversations, and Neal Stephenson, known as the “Homer of geek mythology,” has this new novel that encompasses both virtual and real intrigue and action. It is a thriller, but clever, well-written and perfect for a week at the beach.”

“World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War”
by Max Brooks
Sifri says:
“Guilty pleasure. One of many zombie novels that are fun yarns, particularly if read from the viewpoint of zombie epidemiology as a metaphor for person-to-person transmitted infectious disease.”

Have you read any of these? Leave a comment and tell us what you thought.

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