Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has been a bestseller and ongoing popular selection for book groups since its publication over two years ago. Henrietta Lacks died in 1951 and her cells were saved for scientific research. For some reason, her cells produced generation after generation of cells for experiments and became the still widely used HeLa cells used worldwide for genetic research. Science writer Skloot tracked down the human side of the story as well as explaining the science for the lay reader and the book became a hit. For more information, Ellen's review of it for our library book group can be found here.
If, like millions of readers, you liked The Immortal Life, you might want to try the following titles about medicine and public health.
My Own Country: a doctor's story (1995) by Abraham Verghese recalls his experience treating patients with AIDS in rural Tennessee in the early years of the epidemic. This non-fiction book was Dr. Verghese's first book and was well-reviewed at the time. His first novel, Cutting for Stone (2009) has been very popular with reading groups and is usually checked out at most libraries and has a waiting list. If you liked Cutting for Stone, you might want to go back and read the author's earlier books too.
The Emperor of All Maladies, a biography of cancer by Siddhartha Mukkerjee (2010) traces the history and treatment of cancer. This is a big book at 571 pages and it does not have the human interest aspect that Henrietta Lacks does, but it will hold the interest of readers interested in science and medicine.
For more medical titles, come take a look at April's book display near the Reference Desk. Some featured authors are psychiatrist and author Oliver Sacks, CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, surgeons Atul Gawande and Sherwin B. Nuland.
Related lists of books with medical themes: and many thanks to these bloggers and readers for making these lists
Goodreads: Popular Medical Theme Books
Overbooked: Medical Fiction Booklist
The Wellcome Trust Book Prize for medicine in literature