11 books to read this summer

July 8, 2020 | Author: Royal College Staff

Every summer, we publish a list of books recommended by our members. Here are this year’s picks. Have something to add? Please leave a comment or use the form at the bottom of this page!

Disclaimer: All items in this list are recommendations submitted by Fellows; their appearance in this list does not constitute endorsement of the books and/or their contents by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

The Way We Eat Now

The Way We Eat Now: How the Food Revolution Has Transformed Our Lives, Our Bodies, and Our World (2019)

Bee Wilson

“This will revolutionize the way one thinks about our food and how to speak with patients about changing bad habits. I have read it twice.” – Patrick M. Pierse, MD, FRCPC, pediatrician, Edmonton

The Road

The Road (2006)

Cormac McCarthy

“Explores important themes such as love of family, maintaining a sense of goodness no matter the circumstances and of never abandoning hope. Also, it puts things in perspective… if you think COVID-19 is bad…” – Jeffrey Eppler, MD, FRCPC, emergency physician at Kelowna General Hospital


Greenwood (2019)

Michael Christie

“From the moment you step into the forest, you become entangled and rooted in the intergenerational stories of the Greenwood family. The hope that can be found in Michael Christie’s 2038 world on the brink of an eco-disaster and “rib-retch” pandemic serves as an important reminder and call to action for us all.” – Kathryn A. Sparrow, MD, FRCPC

Healing Lives

Healing Lives: A Century of Manitoba Jewish Physicians (2019)

Eva Wiseman

“This book which focuses on Jewish doctors will be of interest to physicians who graduated from the University of Manitoba or those who practiced in the province. It details prejudicial actions towards Jewish students and doctors (and also towards immigrant, women and Black students and doctors) by medical schools, medical groups and associations.” – Bryan E. Lukie, MD, FRCPC, professor, Dept. of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan (retired)


Superior (2019)

Angela Saini

“Timely historical knowledge. Is race a social construct?” – Winston Ramsewak, MD, FRCPC, radiologist, Windsor Regional Hospital, Windsor

Less Medicine, More Health
Less Medicine, More Health: 7 Assumptions That Drive Too Much Medical Care

Dr. H. Gilbert Welch

“The theme of this book, supported by relevant research, is that doing more is not always better medicine.” – Robert Nolan, MD, FRCPC, diagnostic radiologist (retired)

MindfckMindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America (2019)

Christopher Wylie

“This book was written by a Canadian insider and tells the very scary story of how Cambridge Analytica, with the help of Facebook data, was able to affect the outcome of the Brexit campaign and the 2016 U.S. election. I was always skeptical that these two elections had been compromised but now having read the book, it is much easier to understand how the whole situation evolved.” – Robert West, MD, FRCPC, anatomical and general pathologist at Royal Alexandra Hospital, Edmonton

The Untethered Soul

The Untethered Soul (2007)

Michael Singer

“May be very useful to think of life’s ups and downs in context.” – Saleem Malik, MD, PhD, FRCPC, Internal Medicine, Thunder Bay

The Splendid and the Vile

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz (2020)

Erik Larson

“Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance During the Blitz during Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister. Reading this during COVID-19 for some may be interesting.” – Eric Leith, MD, FRCPC, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Internal Medicine

City of Girls

City of Girls (2019)

Elizabeth Gilbert

“So well written and plotted.” – Janet Walker, MD, FRCSC, general surgeon

Crime and Guilt

Crime (2009) and Guilt (2010)

Ferdinand von Schirach

“These two collections of brilliant and intelligent detective stories are a definite summer must-read!” –  C. Brière, MD, FRCPC



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Terrill Theman | July 9, 2020
I am a retired cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, residing in Pennsylvania USA.
Royal College Staff | July 9, 2020
Hello Dr. Theman, We received your complete recommendation via the online form. Thank you for sending these additional details.
John Price | July 8, 2020
I fully agree with Eric Leith was fascinating, having lived in England at the time and recalling some of the events,
Sujatha Lena | July 8, 2020
Could you please ,post information regarding online access of these books , so we can order online and receive them by mail. Thank You.
Royal College Staff | July 9, 2020
Thank you for the suggestion. We will keep this in mind for future reading lists.
Paul Thiessen | July 8, 2020
I would heartily recommend ‘Humankind - a hopeful history’ by the Dutch historian Rutger Bregman. It presents ample examples of the goodness inherent in much human behavior. In particular the author documents the evidence that in time of war many (most?) soldiers do not want to kill others and in fact go to some lengths to avoid doing so. He shows how ‘Lord of the flies’ is pure fiction and in the one real world incident of 7 teenage boys marooned on a tropical island off Samoa in the 1960s their real life behavior was supportive and caring and completely at odds with that depicted in Lord of the Flies. A very engaging and informative read backed by considerable research which the author dissects quite thoroughly
Royal College Staff | July 9, 2020
Hello Dr. Thiessen, Thank you for your recommendation. Could you please provide your specialty and location (city/town) of practice for us to include in the submission?