How do you write a biography of a disease?

Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee has done just that with his The emperor of all maladies : a biography of cancer, just one of the new additions to our collection of health-related books that we’re highlighting this month. Also included this month: a memoir co-written by an award-winning British war correspondent and his son Henry who suffers from schizophrenia (Henry’s demons : living with schizophrenia, a father and son’s story), as well as a book of advice on options, treatments and aftereffects from prostate cancer survivors. Have a browse.

Syndetics book coverThe emperor of all maladies : a biography of cancer / Siddhartha Mukherjee.
“Apparently researching, treating, and teaching about cancer isn’t enough of a challenge for Columbia University cancer specialist Mukherjee. He was also moved to write a biography of a disease whose name, for millennia, could not be uttered. The eminently readable result is a weighty tale of an enigma that has remained outside the grasp of both the people who endeavored to know it and those who would prefer never to have become acquainted with it. An unauthorized biography told through the voices of people who have lived, toiled, and, yes, died under cancer’s inexorable watch.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverGood girls don’t get fat : how weight obsession is screwing up our girls and what we can do to help them thrive despite it / Robyn J.A. Silverman with Dina Santorelli.
“Dr. Silverman delivers a thoughtful and empowering book on helping young girls overcome society’s pervasive negative messages about weight obsession and body image to become healthy, well-adjusted young women.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe tennis partner / Abraham Verghese.
“When Abraham Verghese, a physician whose marriage is unraveling, relocates to El Paso, Texas, he hopes to make a fresh start as a staff member at the county hospital. There he meets David Smith, a medical student recovering from drug addiction, and the two men begin a tennis ritual that allows them to shed their inhibitions and find security in the sport they love and with each other. This friendship between doctor and intern grows increasingly rich and complex, more intimate than two men usually allow. And just when it seems nothing more can go wrong, the dark beast from David’s past emerges once again. As David spirals out of control, almost everything Verghese has come to trust and believe in is threatened. Compassionate and moving, this is an illuminating story of how men live, and how they survive.” (Drawn from Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverWide awake : what I learned about sleep from doctors, drug companies, dream experts, and a reindeer herder in the Arctic circle / Patricia Morrisroe.
“Journalist and biographer Morrissoe has suffered from insomnia all her life. Here, she takes us on her odyssey in search of sleep, trying everything from drugs to hypnosis to meditation. Like Elizabeth Gilbert’s recent Committed, this book manages the rare feat in an “issue” memoir of successfully integrating the history of a topic with the author’s personal story. Informative, accomplished, and occasionally hilarious. Readalikes: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed and Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind.-Lauren Gilbert (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverYour voice in my head / Emma Forrest.
“Emma Forrest, a British journalist, was just twenty-two and living the fast life in New York City when she realized that her quirks had gone beyond eccentricity. In a cycle of loneliness, damaging relationships, and destructive behavior, she found herself in the chair of a slim, balding, and effortlessly optimistic psychiatrist — a man whose wisdom and humanity would wrench her from the dangerous tide after she tried to end her life. She was on the brink of drowning, but she was still working, still exploring, still writing, and she had also fallen deeply in love. One day, when Emma called to make an appointment with her psychiatrist, she found no one there. He had died, shockingly, at the age of fifty-three, leaving behind a young family. Reeling from the premature death of a man who had become her anchor after she turned up on his doorstep, she was adrift. And when her all-consuming romantic relationship also fell apart, Emma was forced to cling to the page for survival and regain her footing on her own terms. A modern-day fairy tale, Your Voice in My Head is a stunning memoir, clear-eyed and shot through with wit. In her unique voice, Emma Forrest explores the highs and lows of love and the heartbreak of loss.” (Amazon)

Syndetics book coverHenry’s demons : living with schizophrenia, a father and son’s story / Patrick Cockburn and Henry Cockburn.
“An award-winning British war correspondent and his artist son, Henry – diagnosed with schizophrenia at 20 – have composed a gripping drama of family life in a maelstrom. They bring home the rigors of major mental illness; the strangeness and suffering; the absurd thinking, feeling, and acting so close to the edge of normal; a magnification of our own wayward, crazy thoughts. Patrick shares what he learned as a caring, smart, articulate layperson doing what he could for his son. This is a kind of war-and-peace story, with internal and external turmoil, hope, sabotage, and surprise. Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverProstate cancer survivors speak their minds : advice on options, treatments, and aftereffects / Arthur L. Burnett II, and Norman S. Morris.
“If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you need to know the medical facts about treatment options, side effects, and outcomes. You also need practical advice and moral support from those who have been there. Prostate Cancer Survivors Speak Their Minds combines expert medical guidance from one of the world’s leading authorities on prostate cancer with personal stories of men who have battled and defeated prostate cancer. Survivors tell you what you need to know about:Coming to terms with your diagnosis and preparing to fight the diseaseThe special risks prostate cancer poses to African American menRenewing your sex life as you recover from the diseaseDr. Arthur L. Burnett’s open and honest comments put each survivor’s story in a meaningful medical context and give you the knowledge, as well as the courage, you’ll need to make the right decisions and win your battle against prostate cancer.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverLiving with Parkinson’s / Gabriella Rogers.
Journalist Gabriella Rogers presents readers with an insightful guide into Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative brain disorder affecting approximately 6.3 million people world-wide. Living with Parkinson’s is an excellent guide for those suffering from the disease and those caring for people afflicted with it.