Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More on books I loved

When I think of the periods of reading, there's that great gulf of time in Medical School. Gray's Anatomy and Harrison's Internal Medicine, now there were two books I married, definitely an erstwhile love affair. The intimacy with which we lived together is something that still daunts me. Then I'd become an apostle of the Saddock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry and DSMIII and DSMIV. New England Journal of Medicine and Scientific American were literally bed time favorites for decades. I never did get hooked on the American Journal of Psychiatry which excites so many of us. What I loved instead were the Hospital and Community journals. Yes, I was writing for the Medical Post but I was also reading it religiously because it was guaranteed to tell what was fresh off the presses, give the Canadian doctor political scene and let me know what colleagues were doing across the country. Today I'm more interested in the professional Merck Manual. It's on my pda and where once I 'd read it as general interest today I use it as reference and only read a chapter when I've come across something in the office. I get the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry but it's predominantly written by psychologists and so often fails to have any clinical relevance to front line psychiatry. In contrast I still find things of great relevance in the Canadian Medical Association Journal but rarely have time to read the stack that grows in the office. I'm more likely to pick up a MOJO Motorcycle mag or HOG and read stories of what fellow bikers are doing. I still read Currents the Blue Water Cruising Associations journal. I've written for it and been the advertising executive but just love to read, especially in winter, about some fellow cruiser in some hot place sailing his boat with fair winds and following seas.

Work and the demands of reading for work have really dominated the type and kind of reading I do. For years in family medicine and then in psychiatry I'd have a patient show up with some sign or symptom and I'd spend the night reading all I could find in pathology or clinical journals about this particular patient's problems. With computers I'd do PubMed searches and be hours on the computer reading all the latest research, looking for some medication or treatment that had yet not been tried on these so often chronic and forlorn. In later years I'd read an Ian Rankin novel to off set these clinical searches with detective searches.

I started to write a detective novel in Saipan and never did get it finished despite the wonderful help of being in a Canadian Author's Association writers' circle. What I did get was permission to myself to read all the great detective writers. And these I've enjoyed, Evanovich, Sue Grafton, and Harlan Coban certainly have been fun.

Sailing I've loved to read but because I'm on watch the kind of reading has had to be light but interesting. Tom Clancy really is a great boat read. I like how writers' of intrigue tell stories that are captivating but not so entwined that you can't put them down at a moment's notice grab the wheel and miss an oncoming tanker in the open seas. Off shore I had a radar detector device that would notify of the boat's need for attention but coastal sailing reading has had it's rather exciting moments. A bit like reading cell phone text messages on the freeway but in slower motion.

Paramahansa Yogananda, Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis were spiritual writers who changed my life. Thanks to Yogananda I was involved in reading Eastern literature for years as well as in the practice of Yoga for life. The mystical path of C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, and Evelyn Underwood would get me into Regent College studying Christian Spirituality and loving St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila. Oswald Chambers and Brother Lawrence were bedtime favorites. The Spirituality of Imperfection was a thorough delight. More often now I'm studying the MDiv textbooks that probably began sometimes years back when I read Paul Johnson's various texts starting with the History of Christianity. Another spiritual historical series that delighted me was How the Irish Saved Civilization which eventually made the BBC.

Historically, I loved reading Churchill's books but I began my historical foray with Modern Times and H.G. Wells History of the World. I loved approaching a subject through history as a way of getting a grasp on it. So Jared Diamond's writing recently has captured me because it works within the historical framework like Michener would write all his immensely delightful novels.

I'd so often find an author like Michener whose novel about the Middle East would captivate me then I'd run the gamut of all his books and get the latest, like his Mexico and Alaska ones when they came out. I liked historical fiction. I liked fiction where I'd learn facts as well. I loved the thoroughly incorrigible Flashman series not just for the sex and characters but for the actual clear facts that MacDonald incorporated in his bawdy tales. Asimov had this same capacity of coupling fine science with a good story. Which made me love the writings of the doctors so many times especially Jurassic Park.

Recently I've loved Gibson's writing starting from Neuromancer to Pattern Recogntion and beyond. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books were all favorites and the detective series that followed. Thanks to the local Canadian Author's Association I've been reading the books of friends like Ben Nuttall Smith, Anthony Dalton and Bob Mackay. I've just finished the English block buster Birdcage about tunneling in WWI and am looking forward to Bob Mackay's book, Horse Soldiers, about his father's regiment. I loved Farley Mowatt's war book but then I loved all of Farley Mowatt's writing. What can I say I read authors and read all the early Margaret Atwood until her bitterness turned me off her and it was years before I returned to find she'd gotten over herself or maybe I'd matured enough to appreciate her genius once again. I read all of Margaret Lawrence and just never stopped loving her writing only angry that she didn't write more. Robertson Davies sure did capture me and have me reading all night long with a bed light. Canadian authors, like the poet, Leonard Cohen have made me very proud to be Canadian.

But I've got to get to work where I have to read reports and write them so I can't do nostalgia anymore despite how pleasing it is to the soul. Remembering favorite writers is like looking at old photo albums of the family and remembering parents, grandparents and cousins and nephews with a deep and loving fondness. I have truly been blessed by the people who have shared their lives and thoughts with me through writing all these years of my life. But it's like seeing old family photos I forget so many of the names even though the faces are imprinted on my soul.

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Location:W 12th Ave,Vancouver,Canada

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