Reading Groups

SASH Bookworms

Do you love sitting down with a good book? Or maybe you would like to start reading more? Join our new and exciting reading group at SASH!

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 1st December between 13:00 and 14:00.

Logo for SASH Bookworms. Features an image of a worm sat upon a pile of books.

What is SASH Bookworms?

Launched in March 2021, SASH Bookworms is a medical humanities book club jointly-led by SASH Library and Knowledge Services and an Education Fellow. Unlike our general reading group, SASH Bookworms discusses books that promote discussions on medical ethics, healthcare inequalities, access to healthcare, and more.

SASH Bookworms meets for ‘Twitter chats’ every two months. On this page you can find out about the book we are currently reading and view the corresponding discussion questions. You can also read the transcripts of our previous discussions, so do not worry if you are unable to join us!

Ground Rules

It is important that we set some ground rules for our discussions:

  • Respect your fellow participants. Always be polite and respect each other’s right to participate – do not rant or shout. Consider how others will view your contributions.
  • If you are making a connection between the book and your own experience, it is important you remember not to overshare.
  • Do not share confidential information.
  • Think about the reputation of the Trust.
  • To take part, use the hashtag #sashbookworms and start your Tweet with ‘Q1, Q2…’ so people know what question you are referring to!
  • Have fun!

 

Expand the sections below to view a description of the book and read the corresponding discussion questions. Transcripts are typically uploaded one week after the Twitter chat. Please find our contact information at the bottom of this page.

December 2021: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

We have chosen Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese as our fourth book.

A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel – an enthralling family safe of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home. An unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others. (Goodreads)

This title is available to borrow from our library. The title can also be borrowed from Surrey Libraries in addition to being available for purchase from all well-known online booksellers.

Join us on Twitter on Wednesday 1st December between 13:00 and 14:00.  Do not worry if you are unable to join us as you will be able to find a summary and full transcript of the discussion on this page. We hope that this will create an engaging experience and provide a window of light relief from the challenges we are facing at work.

Make sure to use the hashtag #sashbookworms in your Tweets so that everyone can see them!

December 2021 Transcript

The transcript will be available shortly after the book club session.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does Cutting for Stone reveal about the emotional lives of doctors?
  2. Did any character’s story resonate with you? Why?
  3. In the novel, Thomas Stone asks, “What treatment in an emergency is administered by ear?” The correct answer is “Words of comfort.” How does this moment encapsulate the book’s surprising take on medicine?
  4. How does Verghese use medical detail to create tension and surprise? What do his depictions of dramatic surgeries share with film and television hospital dramas—and yet how are they different?

September 2021: The World I Fell Out Of by Melanie Reid

We have chosen The World I Fell Out Of by Melanie Reid as our third book.

Following a horse riding accident, journalist Melanie Reid was paralysed from her chest down and spent almost a full year in hospital. In this unflinchingly honest memoir, Melanie offers an account of an extraordinary year in which writing became her life-line. Read to find out how Melanie navigated her way through a world that had been previously invisible to her in this beautifully observed account. (Goodreads)

This title will be available to borrow from our library soon. The title can also be borrowed from Surrey Libraries in addition to being available for purchase from all well-known online booksellers.

Join us on Twitter on Wednesday 29th September between 13:00 and 14:00.  Do not worry if you are unable to join us as you will be able to find a summary and full transcript of the discussion on this page. We hope that this will create an engaging experience and provide a window of light relief from the challenges we are facing at work.

Make sure to use the hashtag #sashbookworms in your Tweets so that everyone can see them!

September 2021 Transcript

Don’t worry if you were unable to join us on Wednesday, we have the full Twitter chat transcript below.

SASH Bookworms September 2021 Transcript

Discussion Questions

  1. Which parts of Melanie’s story stood out to you the most?
  2. How did Melanie’s account impact your view of care and rehabilitation from the patient’s perspective?
  3. What was the most significant theme in Melanie’s account of her accident?
  4. Can any “life lessons” be learned from Melanie’s story? Was your outlook changed in a positive way?

July 2021: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

We chose When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi as our second book. Kalanithi, a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis, attempts to answer the question ‘what makes a life worth living?’

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. (Goodreads)

This title is available to borrow from our library. We have one copy available, and we are also able to request the title from another library on your behalf. The title can also be borrowed from Surrey Libraries in addition to being available for purchase from all well-known online booksellers.

July 2021 Transcript

Don’t worry if you were unable to join us on Wednesday, we have the full Twitter chat transcript below.

SASH Bookworms July 2021 Transcript

Discussion Questions

  1. How did you come away feeling after reading this book? Upset? Inspired? Anxious? Less afraid?
  2. How do you think the years Paul spent, tending to patients and training to be a neurosurgeon, affected the outlook he had on his own illness?
  3. Paul had a strong background in the humanities, and read widely throughout his life. Do you think this made him a better doctor? A different kind of doctor? If so, how? How has reading influenced your life?
  4. How did the book impact your thoughts about medical care? The patient-doctor relationship? End of life care?

May 2021: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

We chose The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot as our first book. It tells the story of a southern American tobacco farmer whose cervical cancer cells become one of the most important tools in medicine, yet were taken without her consent. We hope this title will form the basis of an interesting discussion on topics such as medical ethics, healthcare inequalities, and access to healthcare.

The book was made into an HBO movie featuring Oprah Winfrey in 2017. You can find out more about the book and see a short trailer for the movie here.

This title is available from Surrey Libraries in addition to being available for purchase from all well-known online booksellers.

May 2021 Transcript

Don’t worry if you were unable to join us on Wednesday, we have the full Twitter chat transcript below.

SASH Bookworms May 2021 Transcript

Discussion Questions

Here are the questions for our first book:

  1. Discuss the following quote: ‘but I always have thought it was strange, if our mother cells done so much for medicine, how come her family can’t afford to see no doctors? Don’t make no sense.’ (p. 9)
  2. Discuss the argument that the good that came out of the research using Henrietta’s cells outweighs the bad of taking them without her knowledge.
  3. Is ethics relative? Do our values change over time? If it was ethical and standard practice at the time to take Henrietta’s cells without her knowledge, can we say today that it was unethical?
  4. What impact does the effect of medical racism (historical and current) have on groups accessing healthcare/testing/vaccination in 2021?

General Reading Group

NB: Unfortunately the general Reading Group has been postponed. We will make an announcement when this will restart.

Previous reads include:

Sand by Hugh Howey: “Sand immerses you in its grubby post-apocalyptic world… Howey conjures a credible, brutal future” (Financial Times)

The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories by Angela Carter: “from familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding HoodBluebeardPuss in BootsBeauty and the BeastVampires and Werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories” (Liznojan Books)

The Fox by Frederick Forsyth: “the master of modern espionage novel returns… this is Forsyth at his spellbinding best” (Daily Mail)

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield: “back on earth after three spaceflights, Chris Hadfield’s captivating memoir An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth reveals extraordinary stories from his life as an astronaut, and shows how to make the impossible a reality” (Pan Macmillan)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: “Jane Eyre is the story of one woman’s struggle to overcome adversity and a classic love story” (Goodreads)

Contact Us

For queries relating to SASH Bookworms contact: sash.bookworms@nhs.net

For all other queries contact the library here.