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4 Books I enjoyed reading in 2021

December 26, 2021

Aishwarya Krishnaswamy ’23

No kidding, I think it's a luxury bordering on privilege to curl up and read a book for leisure in college, especially during the semester. That being said, I still love reading and try to squeeze in about 10-15 minutes of reading every night; it also helps me sleep better and minimize gadget time before bed. And for the rest of the time, I listen to audiobooks/audible when doing chores (laundry, dishes), taking a walk, or painting. I love the convenience that audiobooks provide me. Over time, I have transitioned from a pure fiction reader to basically only a non-fiction reader.

Here is a list of a couple of books that stuck out to me this year, 2021. 

1. What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine by Dr. Danielle Ofri

This is hands-down my favorite book this year. In the summer, I came across this book randomly in the


Oberlin Public Library. At that point, I was pondering over pursuing medicine after college, so it seemed like a perfect read. I love memoir-esque books because they provide information through stories in people's lives. In this book, I was whirled into Dr. Danielle Ofri's life, an internal medicine physician at Bellevue Hospital NYC. I love Dr. Ofri's style of writing. The flow, narration, slap-dead honesty, and humor roped me in from the first page to the last. This book made me think about patient care, empathy decline in doctors, errors in medicine, and the U.S. healthcare system overall. This book acted as a field guide when shadowing doctors this summer. It gave me a blueprint of what to look for when interacting with doctors and seeing patient care unfold in front of my eyes.

Furthermore, I am inspired by Dr. Ofri as a female physician, writer, mother, and someone who cares and is unafraid, to be honest. I want to be a doctor like her someday! I was SOO sad when this book was over, you know that achy feeling when you see your friend leave; I felt something akin to that when I handed this book back at the public library. 


2. Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley 

Ooo, nerdy, I know! A friend recommended this book to me, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little Book2skeptical due to the book's textbooky vibes. I still went ahead, thinking it would be a great review of the material I learned in my cell/molec biology class last spring semester. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the narration and easy flow. Ridley very smartly and skillfully presents rather complicated topics like genetics and cell/molecular biology clearly to a general audience/someone with a basic understanding. He further provokes his readers with philosophical questions towards the end, which nudges me to think beyond simply the biological implications of genetics and into free will and determinism. I also liked learning about the people behind all these cool scientific findings because theories and findings stick better in my mind when they are associated with real people and their narratives. 


3. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gotlieb

I have to give this book credit for deepening my interest in psychology and pursuing a more people-focusedBook3 and clinical career after college. This book is a memoir of Dr. Gotlieb, a clinical psychologist and therapist, navigating her personal life as a single mother and her professional life as a therapist. I was shoved into her and her patients' world during their therapy sessions. If I am being honest, I have always been curious to know what is going on in a therapist's mind as their clients spill their deepest, darkest, and sometimes most shameful/vulnerable moments in their lives. This audiobook took me a while to get through. Still, Gotleib has a wonderful narration style. She provides a good blend between presenting psychological concepts and a candid narration of her personal/professional life. 


4. Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain by David Eagleman

I think the human mind is so goddamn cool! There is so much going on there, and there's still so much for usBook4 to uncover. Yet, we have come a long way with understanding and developing theories about the mind. I started falling in love with the concept of neuroplasticity after reading this book. This book was like reading science fiction, except Eagleman's company actually came up with these innovative devices in the market. These scientific technologies could tap into the brain's limitless potential and make the impossible possible, like neurosensory substitution where a simple vest stitched with motor sensors could collect and convert external vibrations into sensory patterns in the skin, allowing people who can't hear conventionally to be able to rewire their brain enabling them to 'hear' in some way. The sky is the limit when it comes to Eagleman, and he inspires me to fearlessly dream big! 


These were the few books that gripped me this year. Here are a couple of books I am looking forward to reading this upcoming year, 2022: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear by Danielle Ofri, and Dare To Lead by Brene Brown. 

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