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Summer Reading List

Hello my lovely readers and Happy Summer! This summer I have a goal to get back to reading and to focus on reading books that will further educate me on various topics such as anti-racism and medical novels. I wanted to share my reading list with you all and encourage you to comment your reading list below.


If you want to follow my reading list and reviews, add me as a friend of GoodReads:

https://www.goodreads.com/kyeishal


Let me start my list with two books that I have recently checked off of my list:

 

HOMEGOING

Yaa Gyasi

Book Description(From GoodReads):

Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle's dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast's booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia's descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.


My Thoughts:

This book is a masterpiece. As soon as I finished reading it I wanted to turn the cover back over and start reading it again. Each chapter of the book tells the story of another descendant of the family, with one half family in Ghana and the other in the United States - having been sold into slavery. The novel shows how generational curses as well as blessings pass down and really illustrates how experiences today have been shaped by our ancestors experiences. It is a reminder that slavery and Jim Crow were not that long ago as from chapter to chapter you go from generation to generation. It is truly a book like no other and one I can see myself reading again and again.

 

HALF OF A YELLOW SUN

Chimanda Ngozi Adichie

Book Description (From GoodReads):

With astonishing empathy and the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie weaves together the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence of the decade. Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor full of revolutionary zeal. Olanna is the professor’s beautiful mistress, who has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover. And Richard is a shy young Englishman in thrall to Olanna’s twin sister, an enigmatic figure who refuses to belong to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance and the three must run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.


Epic, ambitious, and triumphantly realized, Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic allegiances, about class and race—and the ways in which love can complicate them all. Adichie brilliantly evokes the promise and the devastating disappointments that marked this time and place, bringing us one of the most powerful, dramatic, and intensely emotional pictures of modern Africa that we have ever had.


My Thoughts: Chimamanda has quickly become one of my favorite authors. Her storytelling is so captivating, it is like she was born to be a story teller. And her novels touch on such important topics - this novel covers the Nigeria’s Biafran War - a war I never knew about before reading this novel. After finishing the novel I did some more research as was so saddened to learn about the mass deaths and starvation that occurred during this war. By telling the war through a few main characters you truly feel connected to the experiences of each characters and the horrific realities of the war. I truly recommend this novel.

 

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

Paul Kalanithi


Book Description (From GoodReads)

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.


What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.


Why It Is On My List

I have heard about this book for a few years now and just haven't gotten around to reading it. As someone applying to medical school, I know that as a doctor I will have to face death as we work to treat the ill and so I am interested to hear the author's memoir about morality and medicine. I've heard that it is a quick read so I'll be sure to share my thoughts on GoodReads if you are interested!

 

Medical Apartheid


Book Description (From GoodReads)

Medical Apartheid is the first and only comprehensive history of medical experimentation on African Americans. Starting with the earliest encounters between black Americans and Western medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience that resulted, it details the ways both slaves and freedmen were used in hospitals for experiments conducted without their knowledge—a tradition that continues today within some black populations. It reveals how blacks have historically been prey to grave-robbing as well as unauthorized autopsies and dissections. Moving into the twentieth century, it shows how the pseudoscience of eugenics and social Darwinism was used to justify experimental exploitation and shoddy medical treatment of blacks, and the view that they were biologically inferior, oversexed, and unfit for adult responsibilities. Shocking new details about the government’s notorious Tuskegee experiment are revealed, as are similar, less-well-known medical atrocities conducted by the government, the armed forces, prisons, and private institutions.


Why It Is On My List

This is another novel that once I heard about I knew I had to read it one day. I believe it is important to understand history in oder to accurately understand the present. In my pre-med journey I have been passionate about increasing diversity in medicine and combatting health disparities - by understanding the racial history of medicine I can understand how to best combat these issues today. I know this book will be tough to read but it is important, I believe, for each pre-med student to understand.

 

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

Book Description (From GoodReads)

Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with - and perished from - for more than five thousand years.


The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance, but also of hubris, paternalism, and misperception. Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths, told through the eyes of his predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out “war against cancer.”


Why It Is On My List

It is no surprise that another medical novel has made it to my list. This novel caught my eye because I am really interested in understanding cancer as a disease, I've taken entire courses on the biology of cancer however I am interested to read about cancer as a story rather than out of a textbook, including the stories of people and the history of our understanding of this disease.

 

The Vanishing Half

Brit Brennet

Book Description (From GoodReads)

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?


Why It Is On My List

Homegoing was my favorite book I have read in a while and this novel was recommended as one I may like, after reading the description I can't help but feel compelled to read it! It seems that this novel follows the similar themes of intertwined fates despite physical separation and of how race shapes experiences. As with the other books, I will be sure to report back my thoughts!


 

There we have it, my summer 2021 reading list! I am excited to give these books a read and hopefully add more books to my list for the rest of 2021.


Are there any books on my list you want to try? Or any recommendations for me? I'd love to hear so leave a comment below!


Happy Reading!


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