Literature & Medicine readings are carefully selected by the scholars who facilitate our groups, in consultation with MHC staff and the host site’s liaison. They include works of fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction that represent a diverse variety of voices and perspectives. All of the readings raise issues pertinent to caring for people, whether they are well, sick, or dying.
Edited by Suzanne Hunter Brown. Available for purchase directly from MHC for $15.00. Contact Meghan Reedy if you are interested in purchasing copies.
Created as a reader for health care professionals working in Veterans Administration Medical Centers, the selections focus on issues unique to, or more acute for, Soldiers. Nevertheless, any group of health care professionals can benefit from the readings, both because all health care facilities will increasingly see Veterans, and because “Veterans’ issues” often illuminate general medical concerns. We hope, too, that the general public will appreciate these readings as a way to better understand the experience of the men and women who serve in the armed forces.
The anthology includes work by: Anna Brashler, Raymond Carver, Andre Dubus, Louise Erdrich, George Garrett, Atul Gawande, Arthur Kleinman, Nancy Mairs, Marilyn Nelson, Veneta Masson, Platon, John Stone, Brian Turner, and several other authors and poets.
Favorite Literature & Medicine readings
- W;t by Margaret Edson
- The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles’ Philoctetes by Seamus Heaney
- Medical Reader’s Theater: A Guide and Scripts ed. T.L. Savitt
- “A Nurse’s Story” from A Nurse’s Story and Others by Peter Baida
- Regeneration by Pat Barker
- Redeployment by Phil Klay
- The Plague by Albert Camus
- Cathedral by Raymond Carver
- “He’s at the Office” by Allan Gurganus
- “In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried” by Amy Hempel
- Returning to Earth by Jim Harrison
- You Are Not A Stranger Here by Adam Haslett
- The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
- The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
- Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen
- “People Like That Are the Only People Here” from Birds of America by Lorrie Moore
- “Milk” by Eileen Pollack
- Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter
- Lying Awake by Mark Salzman
- The Round House by Louise Erdritch
- Ceremony by Leslie Maemon Silko
- The Death of Ivan Illyich by Leo Tolstoy
- The Doctor Stories by William Carlos Williams
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
- Where Is the Mango Princess by Cathy Crimmins
- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
- The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
- The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
- Better and Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande
- Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
- Nurses at the Front: Writing the Wounds of the Great War by Margaret R. Higonnet
- Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
- Achilles in Vietnam and Odysseus in America by Jonathan Shay
- Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams
- “Case History” by Dannie Abse
- All of Us: The Collected Poems by Raymond Carver
- Without by Donald Hall
- Otherwise: Collected Poems by Jane Kenyon
- Rehab at the Florida Avenue Grill, poems by Veneta Masson
- The Book of Job trans. Stephen Mitchell
- “Report from the Hospital” by Wislawa Szymborska
- Between the Heart Beats: Poetry & Prose by Nurses edited by Cortney Davis and Judy Schaefer
- POWDER: Writing by Women in the Ranks, From Vietnam to Iraq,Lisa Bowden and Shannon Cain, editors, 2008.
- Selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities to present at the White House as an exemplary humanities programs benefitting veterans (2011)
- Helen & Martin Schwartz Prize for Excellence in Public Programming by the Federation of State Humanities Councils (2003)
- Named as a Patient Quality Initiative by the Maine Hospital Association (2002)
Print: National / International
- The New England Journal of Higher Education, “Humanitarian Efforts,” John O. Harney. Posted August 2, 2012
- World Literature Today, “Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care®” (for “Outpost” section), Lizz Sinclair, January, 2011.
- PMLA, “Good Readers Make Good Doctors': Community Readings and the Health of the Community”, Amy Levin and Phoebe Stein Davis, Volume 125, Number 2, March 2010, pp. 426-436 (11).
- The New York Times, “Book Clubs for Doctors Show Human Side of Medicine [pdf]”, New York Times, Alan Scher Zagier, Association Press, March 11, 2010.
- Hektoen International, A Journal of Medical Humanities, “Humanities at the Heart of Health Care”, Victoria Bonebakker, November, 2009.
- Nursing Spectrum, “Books at the Heart of It.” Margaret Hawke, RN, MA, July 17, 2006.
- ADVANCE for Nurse Practitioners, July 2004.
- Journal of Hospital Librarianship, v4(2), June 1, 2004.
- Dermanities (on-line journal), December 2004.
- Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, October, 2003.
- Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, March 2003.
- Humanities Magazine, (National Endowment for the Humanities Magazine), Fall 2002.
- Christian Science Monitor, January 29, 2001.
- Star Bulletin (Honolulu), “Literature Alters Perspective on Medical Care”, Helen Altonn, February 8, 2010.
- Chicago Tribune, “Book club good medicine for patients, physicians”, Barbara Brotman, May 1, 2007.
- The Ellsworth American, “Medicine, Literature Are Fused: Maine Coast Memorial Hospital Reads!”, Jennifer Osborn, January 12, 2006
- Portland Press Herald, February 11, 2005
- Maine Hospital Association, “In the Public Interest: Quality Initiatives in Maine Hospitals” 2003
- The Maine Times, June 14, 2001
- The Times Record (Brunswick), February 7, 2001
- Maine Biz, January 22, 2001
- Bar Harbor Times, December 21, 2000
- Maine Hospital Association Newsletter, Winter, 2000
- Maine Medical Association Bulletin, September, 2000
- Eastern Maine Medical Center Eagle, Fall 2000
- Bangor Daily News, April 8-9, 2000
- Maine Sunday Telegram, August 23, 1998
- Bangor Daily News, August 6, 1998
- Eastern Maine Medical Eagle, Spring 1997
- Bangor Daily News, December 20, 1996
- The Baltimore Sun, “Hospital staff turn the page.” Meredith Cohn, May 15, 2008
- The Star-Ledger, “N.J. medical professionals increasingly turn to poetry, literature to improve patient care [pdf].” Peggy McGlone, April 27, 2011.
- The Star-Ledger (Essex County Edition), “The healing powers of literature.” Elizabeth Moore, March 7, 2006.
- Argus Leader (Sioux Falls), “Finding Empathy Through War Stories [pdf]”, Lori Walsh, March 10, 2010.
Radio and Television
- The Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s Tom Porter interviewed Literature & MedicineProgram Officer Lizz Sinclair when the Literature & Medicine anthology, Imagine What It’s Like, was published by the University of Hawai’i Press in the summer of 2008. Here, with permission from MPBN, is a re-broadcast of the interview.
- Maine Public Radio, (Spring, 2006). Feature story about the Literature & Medicine program featuring MidCoast Hosptial, Brunswick ME; Jeanne Barron, reporter.
- WABI TV, local CBS Affiliate (Bangor, ME), Interview with Lit & Med participant Geoff Gratwick, MD and Program Officer Lizz Sinclair by Assistant News Director Jon Small for community news program, November 2005
- WCSH TV, local NBC Affiliate (Portland, ME), Segment on the project by health reporter Diane Atwood, June 2001
- WDME (Dover-Foxcroft, ME), part of “Health Beat”, January 10, 2001
- Maine Public Radio, November 6 & 7, 2000
- Pan American Conference of Medical Education, Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 20-23, 2009. Cited as one of several innovative medical humanities programs in a paper presented by Isabel Del Valle, Ph.D.
- Veterans Health Administration Senior Leadership Conference, “Be the Change You Want to See: Seeing, Serving and Leading in New Ways.” Two presentations given on Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care®. August 24-26, 2010, Las Vegas, Nevada.
- Alliance for Arts & Health New Jersey (AAH NJ) Conference, March 2011
- Federation of State Humanities Councils, National Humanities Conference; 2006. “Evaluation of Humanities Programs—A New Approach” Louisville, KY., November 2006
- Society for the Arts in Healthcare, “Voice & Vision: Charting the Course of Arts, Health and Medicine” 15th Annual International Conference, Chicago, Illinois, April 26-29, 2006.
- New Hampshire Medical Society Annual Scientific Convention, “Drawing from the Humanities to Compose a new Professionalism in Medicine”, Kennebunkport, Maine, September 30, 2005
- Society for the Arts in Health Care, “The State of the Arts in Healthcare: Building Community, Embracing Diversity.” Washington D.C., April 21-24, 2004
- North Atlantic Health Sciences Libraries Annual Conference, MA, October, 2003 (Poster Session)
- “The Healing Continuum: Medical Humanities and the Good Doctor.” 4th Annual Medical Humanities Conference, NYU, October 2003 (Poster Session)
- American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, October 2003
- National Society of Clinical Rheumatologists, May 2001
- Society of Teachers of Family Medicine’s 20th Annual Conference on Families and Health, San Diego, California, March 1-5, 2000
- Federation of State Humanities Councils, October 1, 1999
- Maine Nursing Conference, Bar Harbor, ME, Fall, 2002
- Maine Geriatric Conference, Bar Harbor, ME, June 9, 2000
- Maine Public Health Association Annual Conference, October 18, 1999
- Maine Medical Assessment Foundation’s Annual Meeting, October 8, 1999
- Muskie Institute Public Health Masters Program, Fall, 1999
- University of Connecticut Medical Center, Farmington CT, March 2007
- Maine Medical Center, Portland, ME, Spring 2002
- Aroostook Medical Center, Houlton, ME, November 2000
- Cary Medical Center, Caribou, ME, November 2000
- St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, Lewiston ME, October 2000
- Down East Community Hospital, Machias, ME, Fall, 2000
- Redington-Fairview Hospital, Skowhegan, ME, Fall 1999
- Penobscot Bay Medical Center, Rockport, ME, Fall 1998
- Mt. Desert Island Hospital, Bar Harbor, ME, Fall 1998
- Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, November 2001
- “What Can Literature do for Psychiatry?” Vermont State Hospital, Waterbury, VT