Your summer 2022 book recommendations

June 7, 2022 | Author: Royal College Staff

Every summer, we publish a list of book recommendations from our members. Ranging from fiction to memoir, fun to thrill, here are this year’s picks.

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



The Music of Bees

The Music of Bees (2021)

Eileen Garvin

“An actual uplifting book. Joy and love after sadness and tragedy. And family is who you choose.” — J. Walker, MD, FRCSC, general surgeon, Nova Scotia

Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1995)

Kate Atkinson

“Witty and clever writing from the perspective of a girl who tells the stories of six generations of women in her family in the first person. Hilarious footnotes tell the backstory of Ruby’s family via objects in her life.” — Alexa Caturay, MD, FRCPC, associate medical officer of health, Toronto

Anxious People

Anxious People (2019)

Fredrik Backman

“Really funny and relaxing read about the foibles of people in everyday life. (This author is Sweden’s biggest export since Larsson & Abba!)” — M.A. Jason, MD, FRCSC, urologist (retired), Seven Oaks and Victoria hospitals, Winnipeg, Man.




Probable Impossibilities: Musings on beginnings and endings

Probable Impossibilities: Musings on beginnings and endings (2022)

Alan Lightman

“A collection of short essays written by a physicist that reflect on science and self. Beautifully written, powerful and the perfect springboard for a summer day when you aren’t keeping track of time and can let a thought take you away.” — Jesse Kancir, MD, CCFP, FRCPC, regional medical officer of health, Eastern Zone, Nova Scotia

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest (2021)

Suzanne Simard

“The author, with a PhD in Forest Sciences, describes in straightforward description ‘that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that … [they] communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.’ The story of this research and discovery is woven into the story of her family and how this may impact climate change.” — Susan Babensee, MD, FRCPC, radiologist and Nuclear Medicine physician, Trail, B.C.

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis (2020)

Editors: Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson

“A hopeful and illuminating anthology of writings by women at the forefront of climate action — a transformative and powerful community of changemakers that can lead humanity in healing ourselves and the earth.” — Tanya Wulff, MD, CCFP(LM), FRCPC, retired child psychiatrist, Vancouver

A Matter of Death and Life (2021)

Irvin and Marilyn Yalom
Publisher: Albin Michel

“Irvin Yalom, a psychiatrist who has written extensively on anxiety and grief, reflects with his wife Marilyn, a scholar and writer, on her impending death. A valuable insight into death and the loss of a loved one.” — Luc Morin, MD, FRCPC, Psychiatrist, Sherbrooke

Women who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

Women who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype (1997)

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

“A balm for the soul; a source of feminine empowerment and a reminder to trust your intuition.” — Savita Rani, MD, MPH, PGY4 in Public Health and Preventive Medicine, University of Saskatchewan




The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer

The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer (2018)

Joël Dicker

“Another stellar book by the author. Unfurling the layers to find the culprit.” — J. Walker, MD, FRCSC, general surgeon, Nova Scotia

The Accursed Kings (series published between 1955–1977)

Maurice Druon

“These historical novels recount the disastrous adventures of the heirs of King Philip IV of France, known as “Philip the Fair.” A series of misadventures and unfortunate events told through real historical facts. A truly captivating story!” — Samuel Dubé, MD, FRCSC, Gynecologic Oncologist at CHUM, Montreal

Fall of Man in Wilmslow

Fall of Man in Wilmslow (2009)

David Lagercrantz

“A bio about Alan Turing who invented the ‘thinking machine,’ breaking the German code in WWII and helping win the war. (Enigma by Robert Harris is more fictional).” — M.A. Jason, MD, FRCSC, urologist (retired), Seven Oaks and Victoria hospitals, Winnipeg, Man.




Hunter with Harpoon

Hunter with Harpoon (1970, original; 2020, new English translation)

Markoosie Patsauq
Translators: Valerie Henitiuk and Marc-Antoine Mahieu

“Markoosie Patsauq’s novel helped establish the genre of Indigenous fiction in Canada. A classic! A captivating tale of arctic hunting of the polar bear and human survival. A great short read.” — Françoise P. Chagnon, MDCM, FRCSC, Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Montreal

Permanent Astonishment: A Memoir

Permanent Astonishment: A Memoir (2021)

Tomson Highway

“So great to read; the style is entertaining. I find it exciting with some great humour thrown in. Indigenous perspective and experience.” — B.D. McLeod, MD, FRCPC, rheumatologist, Kelowna, B.C.

Seven Fallen Feathers

Seven Fallen Feathers (2017)

Tanya Talaga

“On Reconciliation Day, I decided to read a list of related books and this one was one of my favorites. It covers systemic racism issues in Canada and specifically events taking place in Thunder Bay.” — Aleksandra Mineyko, MD, FRCPC, pediatric neurologist, Alberta Children’s Hospital




The Book of Small

The Book of Small (2004)

Emily Carr

“Fascinating perspective of childhood in Victoria in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Lovely prose. I never appreciated Carr as an author; had only know her as a painter.” — Ingrid Vicas, MDCM, FRCPC, Emergency Medicine, Medical Toxicology and Addiction Medicine, Calgary, Alta.

We are all perfectly fine

We Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing (2021)

Jillian Horton

“Dr. Horton is a wonderful writer, but also brutally honest clinician and teacher, who shares her journey into medicine, through burnout, and back again.” — Jolie Ringash, MD, MSc, FRCPC, radiation oncologist, The Princess Margaret/UHN, Toronto

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (1998)

Ron Chernow

“A good, but long read, about the dichotomy of a business tycoon and philanthropist. It details a life and times in America during the last half of the 1800s and first part of the 1900s.” — Eric S. Leith, MD, FRCPC, specialist in Clinical Immunology and Allergy and Internal Medicine




The Premonition: A Pandemic Story

The Premonition: A Pandemic Story (2021)

Michael Lewis

“This is an inspiring story of a determined group of epidemiologists, public health and infectious disease experts who — through modelling and historical analysis (of the 1918 Flu Pandemic) —developed pandemic mitigation strategies, only to be confronted by ivory-tower gatekeepers and a disinterested, apathetic American government apparatus until it became too late. It champions the ideals of being a fierce advocate for your patient’s and community’s health, and remaining resolute in your convictions, despite powerful opposition.” — Jaideep Kanungo, MD, FRCPC, neonatologist, Victoria General Hospital

Fertility: 40 Years of Change

Fertility: 40 Years of Change (2022)

Maureen McTeer

“This is a very informative, accessible and well-written book on reproductive and genetic technologies by author and lawyer Maureen McTeer. After providing us with the necessary background, she challenges us to look into the future of research and clinical care in this field. This is an exceptional book on one of the most complex health policy questions facing Canadians.” — Arthur Leader, MD, FRCSC, emeritus professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Ottawa

This is Assisted Dying: A Doctor’s Story of Empowering Patients at the End of Life

This is Assisted Dying: A Doctor’s Story of Empowering Patients at the End of Life (2022)

Stefanie Green

“This point-of-view on medical assistance in dying from a Canadian doctor pioneering this work is brave, honest and helps meaningfully advance our dialogue on assisted dying.” — Jesse Kancir, MD, CCFP, FRCPC, regional medical officer of health, Eastern Zone, Nova Scotia


Looking for more picks? Check out these other lists.

2021 summer reading list

2020 summer reading list

2019 summer reading list


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David Brabyn | June 9, 2022
"Finding The Mother Tree" is the most thought provoking and moving book I have read in the past 10 years. It has given me a whole new perspective on this place I live in.
Jan Surkes | June 8, 2022
Five Little Indians By Michelle Good This story of 5 indigenous children written by an indigenous writer is beautifully written, with compelling characters, and quite an easy read. I learned a great deal about something I knew very little. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese " is a beautifully written coming-of-age novel weaving family, hospital and house staff, patients, community, disease, and country into a complex tapestry. It incorporates love, lust, trust, betrayal, commitment, emigration, faith, poverty, life, death, hope, dreams, fears, and just about every other big theme you can imagine without ever becoming predictable, manipulative, or cliched. It's an epic story that feels intimate and cozy and enveloping." In my top 10 books ever. The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese "is an autobiographical memoir written by Verghese during a time of great turmoil in his life – an unraveling marriage while balancing a brand new attending position in El Paso, TX. He writes about his friendship with David Smith, a young Australian medical student" and addict. Verghese is an amazing Physician-Writer. The Physician is a novel by Noah Gordon. It is about the life of a Christian English boy in the 11th century who journeys across Europe in order to study medicine among the Persians. Be forewarned-it is 768 pages and is one of the best books I ever read. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is "a coming-of-age tale of a young boy who, through the magic of a single book, finds a purpose greater than himself and a hero in a man he's never met." In my top 10 books ever. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles In 1922 Russia, Count Alexander Rostov, is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, must live in dramatically reduced circumstances, while tumultuous decades in Russian history unfold outside the hotel’s doors. Surprisingly, his reduced circumstances lead him to a much larger world of emotional discovery. Amazing book in my top 10 ever. I wished it kept going. Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel-After a virus wipes out 99% of the human population, the survivors must start from scratch to live and thrive. " A band of actors and musicians, called the Travelling Symphony, move through the territories of a changed world, performing concerts and Shakespeare at the settlements that have formed. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms, and it threatens the world every hopeful survivor has tried to rebuild. Moving backward and forward in time, from the glittering years just before the collapse to the strange and altered world that exists twenty years after, Station Eleven charts the unexpected twists of fate that connect six people: celebrated actor Arthur Leander; Jeevan, a bystander warned about the flu just in time; Arthur's first wife, Miranda; Arthur's oldest friend, Clark; Kirsten, an actress with the Travelling Symphony; and the mysterious and self-proclaimed "prophet." Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the fragility of life, the relationships that sustain us, and the beauty of the world as we know it."
Alan Giachino | June 8, 2022
I've been a Fellow for years. I just published a novel. I informed 'you'. It is on Amazon under my name (Alan Giachino) or the title (The Colour Of the Rose) Why was it not on this list?
Royal College Communications | June 10, 2022
Thank you for your question, Dr. Giachino. Unfortunately, each year we must make some editorial decisions on which books will be included in our final list. This year, we received several book submissions by members who are also authors, like you. To keep our list a manageable length, not favour one member-author over another, and keep the annual list a place to impartially share books that were well-received or had an impact on their readers, we did not include in our final list any books recommended by their own authors. We apologize for any disappointment this caused. — Royal College Communications