Public Health Reads That Spark Conversation and Further Study
By Laura Norvig, MLIS | April 12, 2017
Digital Media Strategist, ETR
I’m a huge believer in the power of online community for professional development. I’ve received so much useful “just in time” information and made so many valuable personal connections this way, it’s second nature to me.
Recently I joined HEDIR, a longstanding discussion list designed to help health educators communicate more effectively and efficiently. I’m not actually a health educator myself, but I do help curate information on public health topics, and I needed to search the HEDIR archives.
Recently a thread popped up on the list when someone asked for book recommendations for their MSPH graduate students. “Not textbooks, tomes or classic reads,” explained the query. But these are engaging books that tell the human story behind public health issues.
The suggestions were fantastic. I thought our readers might enjoy seeing them.
- Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America An exploration of the lives of four generations in an African American family coping with some of the common conditions of urban families living in poverty.
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks The story of an impoverished African American woman whose cells were taken without her knowledge and, because of their unique qualities, used in some of the most important discoveries in medicine. They were also bought and sold by labs around the world.
- Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives Why, with so much evidence supporting scientific methods, is the public still so susceptible to false beliefs? Author Michael Specter examines doubters of science. See his TED talk here.
- The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—And How It Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World The story of how Dr. John Snow and clergyman Henry Whitehead discovered the source of London’s 1854 cholera epidemic.
- Heatwave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago In the summer of 1995, in one excruciatingly hot week in July, 739 residents of Chicago suffered heat-related deaths. Most were isolated seniors living alone in apartments. What were the social conditions contributing to this disaster, and can a similar event be prevented in the future?
- The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Anne Fadiman tells the story of a Hmong family, living in California’s Central Valley, as it tries to balance traditional practices and beliefs with Western medical intervention for a child with severe epilepsy. Interesting follow-up on the family can be found here.
One community member pointed to an existing curated list: Summer of Public Health: Reading Recommendations. Though it’s not summer yet, spring is in the air and one of these reads might be just the thing to dig into on a spring break or weekend.
Laura Norvig, MLIS, is ETR’s Digital Media Strategist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.