Genre Spotlight: Nonfiction for the Armchair Pathologist

Fans of House and medical mysteries in general are sure to enjoy these fascinating peeks behind the medical curtain. From the brain to the “bugs”, these books are all about the delicate balancing act our bodies accomplish every hour of every day, and how things that can go wrong with the body are detected and treated.

The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $13.99)

“An extraordinary book… With clarity and charm [Dunn] takes the reader into the overlap of medicine, ecology, and evolutionary biology to reveal an important domain of the human condition.” —Edward O. Wilson, author of Anthill and The Future of Life

Biologist Rob Dunn reveals the crucial influence that other species have upon our health,our well-being, and our world in The Wild Life of Our Bodies—a fascinating tour through the hidden truths of nature and co-dependence. Dunn illuminates the nuanced, often imperceptible relationships that exist between homo sapiens and other species, relationships that underpin humanity’s ability to thrive and prosper in every circumstance.

Readers of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma will be enthralled by Dunn’s powerful, lucid exploration of the role that humankind plays within the greater web of life on Earth.

 

Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature’s Most Dangerous Creatures (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $11.99)

IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE parasites control the minds of their hosts, sending them to their destruction.
IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE parasites are masters of chemical warfare and camouflage, able to cloak themselves with their hosts’ own molecules.

IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE parasites steer the course of evolution, where the majority of species are parasites.
WELCOME TO EARTH.

For centuries, parasites have lived in nightmares, horror stories, and in the darkest shadows of science. Yet these creatures are among the world’s most successful and sophisticated organisms. In Parasite Rex, Carl Zimmer deftly balances the scientific and the disgusting as he takes readers on a fantastic voyage. Traveling from the steamy jungles of Costa Rica to the fetid parasite haven of southern Sudan, Zimmer graphically brings to life how parasites can change DNA, rewire the brain, make men more distrustful and women more outgoing, and turn hosts into the living dead.

This thorough, gracefully written book brings parasites out into the open and uncovers what they can teach us about the most fundamental survival tactics in the universe.

 

Fascinomas – Fascinating Medical Mysteries (4/5 stars, currently priced at $6.00)

Fascinomas –fascinating medical mysteries. A paralyzed teen recovers overnight. A woman complains her breast implants speak. A man and his dog become gravely ill at the exact same time. These strange real-life cases and many more can be found in author and physician Clifton K. Meador’s newest collection, Fascinomas.

Combining the word “fascinating” with the term for a tumor or growth, “fascinoma” is medical slang for an unusually interesting medical case. These are the extraordinary stories medical professionals recall forever and pass from one colleague to another in hospital lounges and hallways. Every medical professional has at least one fascinoma to tell, and in this collection of bizarre-but-true stories, Meador retells some of the most memorable.

In the vein of Berton Roueché, the famed medical writer for The New Yorker, the author of True Medical Detective Stories is back with an all-new book of complex cases, where medical professionals must often race against the clock to find clues in the most unusual places. Fascinomas is an entertaining and informative collection for physicians, nurses, medical students and those who simply can’t get enough of bizarre clinical cases. Written from the point of view of an experienced doctor, the stories are crafted in an engaging style that can be enjoyed by medical professionals and laypeople alike.

More than just interesting tales, however, these real-life mysteries serve as great examples of the need for doctors to listen closely to and ask the right questions of their patients, even in the computer age, when so much information is at their fingertips. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, and you never know where a crucial piece of evidence will be found by one of the detectives of the medical world.

 

Brain Cuttings: Fifteen Journeys Through the Mind (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $4.49)

(KF on KND Editor’s Note: this is a 99 page collection of 15 essays)

“Carl Zimmer takes us behind the scenes in our own heads. He has ferreted out all the most wondrous, bizarre stories and studies and served them up in this delicious, sizzling, easy-to-digest platter of neuro-goodness.” —Mary Roach, author of Packing for Mars and Stiff

“If you want to jump start your knowledge about how the brain does all those marvelous things for us like think, feel, and deal with others, read these essays. Zimmer has the rare capacity to get the science right and make it all feel like a glass of smooth bourbon.” —Michael Gazzaniga, Director for the SAGE Center for the Study of Mind at the University of California Santa Barbara, author of Human: The Science of What Makes Us Unique.

“These essays combine that rare blend of precision and wonder, hard-nosed reporting and nose for the poetically spooky. The brain should be very pleased to have Carl Zimmer as its scribe.” —Jad Abumrad, host and creator of Radiolab

“Carl Zimmer is one of the finest science writers around. In this fascinating tour of the brain, he explores the meaning of time, the genetic tug of war between parents, the science of anesthesia and a dozen other absorbing tales of the meaty computer inside our head.” —Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist

 

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