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!

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

What is SASH Bookworms?

SASH Library and Knowledge Services are super excited to announce a new medical humanities book club called SASH Bookworms.

SASH Bookworms will meet for ‘Twitter chats’ every two months. You can find out the details about the current book and questions on this page. Unlike our general reading group, SASH Bookworms has a medical humanities theme, but we are always on the lookout for something new and interesting!

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

We have chosen 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.

Join us on Twitter between 13:00 and 14:00 on Wednesday 5th May. 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!

NEW: 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?

Ground Rules

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

  • 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!


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)


Need to get in touch? Contact us here if you need to find out more about our reading groups.