Tuesday, February 24, 2015

'Every Patient Tells a Story' - especially if they are 'highlighter yellow'

This book review was originally posted on our blog on 8/29/2009. Today, while looking for books on health careers for a patron, I spotted the book on the shelf at 616.075 SAN among the many books written by doctors about medicine.  I recommend this book for young people interested in a health career, for patrons who enjoy medical TV shows, and for anyone who likes a good medical puzzle.

Every Patient Tells a Story

Lisa Sanders, MD writes the monthly column Diagnosis for the New York Times Magazine and is a consultant for the television series House, MD. Dr. Sanders was a broadcast journalist specializing in medical stories before deciding to become a doctor as her second career. She now teaches at the Yale School of Medicine as well as being a practicing internist. She collects stories of interesting diagnoses and writes about them in her NYT column and now has a book out, Every Patient Tells a Story, medical mysteries and the art of diagnosis (2009) which recounts not only the stories of patients whose illnesses were hard to diagnose, but also discusses the diagnostic process and the importance of the physical exam, a fast-disappearing art apparently as high-tech tests replace that skill in many cases.

In the introduction, the case of a young woman so jaundiced that she is "highlighter yellow" (p. xii) but does not have hepatitis, is solved by an internist who takes her history again, examines her, rereads her chart and test results and has an "aha" moment where he puts together all the clues to come up with a rare disease which he then verifies by a trip to the library and a close look at her irises to see if there is a golden ring around the outer edge. If you have watched the TV show House, you may recognize this disease from one episode.

I suspect that my friends, family and colleagues will be glad that I have finished the book so that I will no longer regale them with alarming stories of medical near-misses while they are dining. Librarians who took their lunch in the staff room this week provided a captive audience for my chapter by chapter synopses of this book. I will check it in and now it goes to the patron who saw it on my desk and asked to be put on hold for it. Enjoy, but don't come down with every symptom you read about. That's "Intern's Disease," a manifestation of the power of suggestion.

Every Patient Tells a Story is non-fiction that will appeal to fans of medical novels by Patricia Cornwell, Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, Michael Palmer, Abraham Verghese or Tess Gerritson.
Also of interest: The Medical Science of House

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Miss P. the Best in Show Beagle and the Doggy Dewey Decimal Number

Congratulations to Miss P., the adorable Beagle who was selected Best in Show last night at Westminster Dog Show. If looking at her cute little face doesn't make you want to run out and get a dog, I don't know what will. The library can help with that. Run directly to the shelves with the
Doggy Dewey Decimal number which is:
in libraries around the world that use the Dewey Decimal system. There you will find books on all breeds and on selecting, raising and training dogs.

For more Beagle mania, take a look at our post about Miss P.'s Grand-uncle Uno who won Best in Show in 2008: Uno the Beagle Wins Westminster Dog Show.
Miss P, (NBC photo of the Dog Show Winner)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Our Valentine's Day Conversation with the Library Computer

Art by AsdeF
Why don't I just blog about romance books today?  Searches of the library OPAC (Online Public Access Computer, formerly known as the card catalog) tell us that:
# items (books+) in library with keyword 'Valentine' = 203
# items (books+) in library with keyword 'Valentine' upstairs only (ie: not kid's books) = 106
#DVD's in library with keyword 'Valentine' = 25
#books with keyword 'love' in library = too many to count. That query caused our online catalog to give up and answer '250', which is what it says when the number is larger than 250. It just gives up and expects the term to be narrowed or qualified in some way to bring the number below 250. Sometime it is difficult to 'heart' the library catalog. It is an ornery computer servant, like HAL, that has its own rules, regardless of what we want to ask it. I imagine my conversation with HAL/OPAC would go like this:

Anne the Librarian: "How many books about love do we have, oh library computer?"
OPAC: "I'm sorry, Anne, I can't do that."
Anne the Librarian: "OK, so how about just adult books about love?"
OPAC: "I'm sorry, Anne, I can't do that."
Anne: "OK, would you believe, just books with the Library of Congress Subject Heading 'Love'?"
OPAC: "I'm sorry, Anne, you sound like Maxwell Smart, that is the wrong video entertainment format. I can't understand you."
Anne: "I am going to power you down now, OPAC. Good bye!"
OPAC: "Nooooo...."
Anne: "Mwah ha ha."

Happy Valentine's Day! We've got lots of books about romance and love at BHPL, more than 250 I'm guessing. Just ask at the Reference Desk.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Florida Authors for a Cold Winter in the Northeast

Funny Florida authors Picasa collage
New Jersey is experiencing another cold, snowy, icy, icky, or as the Scots would say, 'dreich,' winter season. Some of our snowbird patrons have escaped to Florida for the duration, but for those of us bundled up in our sweaters and boots and hats (and that's just indoors) -  who are toughing it out at home, some funny books from Florida authors may help warm you up, carry you off to warmer climes, or at least make you laugh and escape this northeast winter for a little while.

Dave Barry wrote a humor column for the 'Miami Herald' for years which was laugh-out-loud funny, especially if your sense of humor is an only slightly grown-up appreciation of the humorous potential of words like booger and laughing until milk comes out of your nose. Think third-grade lunch-room hijinks as related by a grown-up who never grew up. But don't take my word for it, read some of Dave's old columns on his website. Then for a novel-length dose of Dave Barry, read his latest book, Insane City.

Carl Hiaasen also writes for the 'Miami Herald', is also very funny, writes terrific books for adults and young adults and, if that isn't enough for one person, is friends with Dave Barry! In fact, Barry and Hiaasen played in 'The Rock Bottom Remainders,' a rock group made up of authors who write well but whose musical talent was more enthusiastic than skilled.

When I started thinking about Florida authors I enjoy reading, I discovered Tim Dorsey, who is now on my 'to read' list. Like Barry and Hiaasen, Tim Dorsey was also a journalist at a Florida newspaper and as I began to ponder what it is that causes Florida journalists to become humor writers, a quick Google search revealed a column by Janet Maslin of the New York Times comparing and contrasting these three authors. The three authors are considered to be what we in the library world call 'read-alikes.'  Read Ms. Maslin's review for more on these three authors. I love Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen's writing so I'm off to the stacks to grab a Tim Dorsey novel starring 'Serge Storms' for the weekend.

Happy reading and stay warm!