Lately, my choice of good reads is taking on the other side of the spectrum–non-fiction. Medical books, at that.
Now, before you raise that eyebrow and think that I have absolutely gone crazy, I am really interested in medicine. Alongside MTV, writing and makeup, I read on diseases, symptoms, cures for no particular reason (past life?). But no, I did not pursue it not because I get queasy at the sight of blood (actually, I do not) but because Medicine is for…special people. Whatever that means.
Anyway, since I can’t exactly live the Doctor-dream, books exist to give us a sneak peak of the lives that, well, got away. Atul Gawande (Complications) is now my poster-child for a dramatic non-fiction that pushes my intellectual capacity to the edge. Each case feels like watching films–surreal and incredibly disconcerting–only that they were real-life cases, provided that some names were changed, and cases were slightly tweaked for confidentiality. Still, I did not expect to get hooked with non-fiction tales. I really did not. I thought non-fiction is just as taxing to read as academic papers (no offense!). And look now, I began browsing the pages of Gawande’s second book, Better!
Perhaps, as a follower of young adult novels and chic-literature, I am always looking for drama, controversy and witty banter, or impeccably written narratives in lieu of dialogues (and alright alright, profusely-described gorgeous male characters). Precision in vocabulary excites the reader in me because I lack in those as a writer. I want reading to be a learning experience, too; the book, however, must be simple enough for my comprehension but complex enough to stretch my thoughts. And Gawande’s ‘Notes’ give me that, and more (no male characters–but the male point-of-view is refreshing, seriously). I am really impressed with his writing (not that he has to); I admire people who have the ability to fuse his scientific background with his creative side. A special skill for special people, indeed.
Speaking of creativity in narratives, bordering on poetic and theatrical–I also started reading An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. It is her memoirs on living with manic-depressive disorder. Reading it feels almost as if I am looking straight at her while she weighs her options–to take lithium or not. I also admire her for writing about her illness–it goes to show that she’s not a victim of her circumstance, but a fighter. That, is reason enough for me.
One of these days, I just know I will return to my roots and read the exhilarating lives of teens and mid-life-crises of young professionals. But until then, I will enjoy going through medical cases and indulge in the drama of surgery and mental disorders. They might shed some light on my rather dark days, they just might.