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2018: A Year of Reading, in Review

In 2018…

I had a simple goal (notice, I didn’t say resolution… I’ll share my thoughts on that sometime). For the past few years, I’ve been reading less and less for fun, and moreso because of increased academic demands (turns out, you read a lot in dental school… who knew?). For those who didn’t know me before dental school, I used to read a lot… voraciously, even. This was a trend I wanted to work on reversing. And so, for 2018, I set a really lofty goal: 52 books – one book per week.

The Good Stuff…

As promised, my 52 books for 2018, in order of reading:

  1. When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanthi
  2. The Alchemist – Pauko Coelho
  3. The One Thing – Gary Keller
  4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
  5. Teeth: Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America – Mary Otto
  6. Invisible Influence: the Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior – Jonah Burger
  7. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcom Gladwell
  8. The Little Price – Antoine de Saint Exupery
  9. The Chick and the Dead: Tales of a Life in Death – Carla Valentine
  10. An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back – Elisabeth Rosenthal
  11. Malpractice: A Neurosurgeon Reveals How Our Health-Care System Puts Patients at Risk – Lawrence Schlacter
  12. The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly – Sun-mi Hwang
  13. [TITLE REMOVED] – Pre-Release Book.
  14. The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande
  15. In the Kingdom of the Sick: A Social History of Chronic Illness in America – Lauri Edwards
  16. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative – Austin Kleon
  17. Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality – Pauline W. Chen
  18. Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance – Atul Gawande
  19. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
  20. Bless Me, Ultima – Rudolfo Anaya
  21. The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism – Olivia Fox Cabane
  22. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die – Chip & Dan Heath
  23. The Heart – Maylis de Kerangal
  24. The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy – Rainn Wilson
  25. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
  26. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – Charles Duhigg
  27. Smile Stealers: The Fine and Foul Art of Dentistry – Richard Barnett
  28. 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – Dan Harris
  29. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End – Atul Gawande
  30. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City – Matthew Desmond
  31. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think – Hans Rosling
  32. Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved – Kate Bowler
  33. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  34. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
  35. The Danger Within Us: America’s Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man’s Battle to Survive It – Jeanne Lenzer
  36. The Flavor Matrix: The Art and Science of Pairing Common Ingredients to Create Extraordinary Dishes – James Briscione
  37. A Life Everlasting: The Extraordinary Story of One Boy’s Gift to Medical Science – Sarah Gray
  38. Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm – Rene Almeling
  39. You Can Stop Humming Now: A Doctor’s Stories of Life, Death, and in Between – Daniela Lamas
  40. The Heart Healers: The Misfits, Mavericks, and Rebels Who Created the Greatest Medical Breakthrough of Our Lives – James S. Forrester
  41. Tooth and Nail: The Making of a Female Fight Doctor – Linda Dahl
  42. Health Care Revolt: How to Organize, Build a Health Care System, and Resuscitate Democracy—All at the Same Time – Michael Fine
  43. The Excruciating History of Dentistry: Toothsome Tales & Oral Oddities from Babylon to Braces – James Wynbrandt
  44. Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything – Randi Hutter Epstein
  45. Unthinkable: An Extraordinary Journey Through the World’s Strangest Brains – Helen Thomson
  46. Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt
  47. The Sense of and Ending – Julian Barnes
  48. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
  49. The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People – David Niven
  50. Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money – Dolly Freed
  51. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcom Gladwell
  52. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup – John Carreyrou

UNDERLINED: Books that I highly recommend reading.

Comments on My Faves of 2018:

2018 started off strong, with When Breath Becomes Air, a young neurosurgeon’s memoir on a terminal cancer diagnosis – contemplating on what it means to live and to die, both as provider and patient. I highly recommend it for anyone in healthcare, as it gives some really needed perspective on the topics… “realiz[ing] that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything.”

Even with the bar set as high as it was, there were a few more books that came soon after that were excellent in their own way. Mary Otto’s Teeth: Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America, was one of them. A quick, eye-opening, look into the status of oral health in America, it opens the door for conversations that the dental community should be having. While I don’t entirely agree with all of the points made in this one, and found that at times it belabors certain points while simultaneously trying to cover too much material, it’s an important in-road to further conversations – a crash course into the politics of dentistry, if you will.

Throughout this year, I read almost the totality of Atul Gawande’s writings: The Checklist Manifesto, Better, and Being Mortal. A pioneer in many aspects of healthcare, this trifecta were quick reads, yet covered one point intelligently and with sufficient detail to provoke thought. The Checklist Manifesto drives home the point that simple solutions are what is required in healthcare, and especially in foreign aid – experiences that I personally can corroborate. In many places, both locally and abroad, simple systems produce the most effective results. Better transitions into the more human aspect, and elaborates on balancing best intentions and best performance in healthcare providers – an important balance in a field where we both push ourselves towards success while being pushed towards them. Finally, Being Mortal, asserts that medicine isn’t solely about improving life, but also in improving its end.  All of these tackle the variosu improvements and considerations we all as healthcare providers should consider daily in our professions, and for that reason, I highly recommend this trifecta.

You Can Stop Humming Now, was an almost natural throwback to my Atul Gawande trifecta. Capturing a series of vignettes, it explores the border of sickness and health.

Tooth and Nail, was perhaps the most unique of the books I’ve read this year. Chronicling the story of Linda Dahl, the first and only UFC female fight doctor, combined a few things from my past. I’m actually a double black belt martial artist, and watching the UFC fights is high on my list for freetime activities. The book examines sexism, dislocation, and success in two arenas that are traditionally fairly male focused. Sitting in such a unique literary spot made this book like any other I’ve read.

Bad Blood, my final read for 2018, surprisngly couldn’t be put down. Possibly the quickest read of all my books this year, even. A cautionary tale of celebrity status gone wrong, Bad Blood covers the downfall fo Theranos. An interesting combination of ethical debate and thriller novel, you’ll be captivated the whole way through.

Finally, Some Stats…

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, and more importantly,, which was my tool of choice to track progress on this challenge, we know a few fun things aboit this year’s reading list:

  • In 2018, 52 books were read (ok, we knew that already)
  • 13741 pages were read
  • The longest book, An American Sickness, was 656 pages.
  • The oldest book, Of Mice and Men, was published in 1937.
  • The newest books were tied: Factfulness, The Flavor Matrix, You Can Stop Humming Now, and Unthinkable, were all published in 2018.
  • The most books read per month was 16, in December
  • The fewest books read per month was 1, in April, September and October.