When a medical student has time to read, what does she read? Today’s Top Reads comes from Hippo Medical Correspondent Laura Christianson, with books featuring empathy, inspired wisdom, service work, and healing.

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. The main essay in this book describes the author’s experience as a standardized patient—someone hired to behave as a patient for medical students to practice skills like empathy. Jamison does a beautiful job of exploring what empathy looks like by combining reflection with personal narratives.

An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks. Oliver Sacks brings curiosity, awe, and inspired wisdom to medicine. I found this book of stories one summer in college while volunteering at a hospital. They helped me see all that medicine can be and brought me one step closer to pursuing a career in medicine myself.

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. This one is a classic. If you haven’t read it, you just have to. This book has provided the spark for many people to pursue interests in service work—locally and abroad.

The Lost Art of Healing by Bernard Lown. Dr. Lown is part doctor, part sage. His stories about practicing medicine are captivating and convey important reminders about the role of the physician in the life of patients.

Image Credit:  Pedro Ribeiro Simões via flickr

About The Author

Laura Christianson
Hippo Reads Academic Correspondent in Medicine

Laura Christianson graduated cum laude from Williams College with a B.A. in English Literature. She previously worked as a Research Assistant at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in the Radiation Oncology Department, coordinating outcomes research in patients with CNS tumors. She began medical school at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine in 2013. Her current research is on waste and cost reduction in the Operating Room.