2013-14 List



*I started Medical School in August of 2012 which is why my list is rather lacking! Although I have to say, Gray’s Anatomy pales in comparison to any of these books!

Middlesex– Jeffrey Eugenides (2002-Fiction)
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2003), James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction Nominee (2003)

“Biology gives you a brain. Life turns it into a mind.”

-Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

The Reader- Bernhard Schlink (1995-Fiction)

“The tectonic layers of our lives rest so tightly one on top of the other that we always come up against earlier events in later ones, not as matter that has been fully formed and pushed aside, but absolutely present and alive.”

-Bernhard Schlink, The Reader


Mrs. Dalloway- Virginia Woolf (1925-Fiction)

“In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.”

-Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

The Hours– Michael Cunningham (1998-Fiction)
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1999), PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (1999), National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist for Fiction (1998)

“We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone in Canada; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep—it’s as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we’re very fortunate, by time itself. There’s just this for consolation; an hour here or there when our lives seems, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.”

-Michael Cunningham, The Hours

1984– George Orwell (1949-Fiction)

“Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

-George Orwell,  1984

Every Patient Tells A Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis– Lisa Sanders (2009-Nonfiction)

“Ultimately, medicine can’t bring comfort, but it does help tell the final story in a life. Knowing how someone died makes it easer to remember how they lived. And after medicine has finished doing all that it can, it is stories that we want and, finally, all that we have.”

-Lisa Sanders, Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis

What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love– Carole Radziwill (2007-Nonfiction)

“Most people think Fortune is something good—to have a fortune, to be fortunate—a word that implies advantage, like ‘luck.’ We use prefixes for bad fortune: misfortune, ill-fortune, unfortunate, but Fortune goes both ways. The Romans personified it in the form of a clever but dispassionate woman who coolly disperses both the good and bad with a flick of her wrist. The goddess Fortuna. Good fortune from her left hand out of a cornucopia filled with gifts—things like straight teeth, a good job, a two-car garage in the suburbs. Bad fortune from her right hand holding a ship’s rudder that changes direction, triggering car crashes and untimely deaths. A gesture from her, and the place you thought you were going is no longer in front of you. We call it fate when there is no logical path from then to now. When the man misses a train, then shares a taxi with his future wife or when the cautious woman daydreams through a stop sign at a busy intersection and is hit by a speeding truck. When the man who loves to fly dies in a plane crash. We shake our heads. It’s fate, we say.”

-Carole Radziwill, What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity– Katherine Boo (2012-Nonfiction)
Pulitzer Prize Nominee for General Nonfiction (2013), National Book Award for Nonfiction (2012), Dayton Literary Peace Prize Nominee for Nonfiction (2013), National Book Critics Circle Finalist for General Nonfiction (2012)

“When I settle into a place, listening and watching, I don’t try to fool myself that the stories of individuals are themselves arguments. I just believe that better arguments, maybe even better policies, get formulated when we know more about ordinary lives.”

-Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Great Expectations– Charles Dickens (1861-Fiction)

“That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me, but it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”

-Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

 Crime and Punishment– Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1866-Fiction)

“They wanted to speak, but could not; tears stood in their eyes. They were both pale and thin; but those sick pale faces were bright with the dawn of a new future, of a full resurrection into a new life. They were renewed by love; the heart of each held infinite sources of life for the heart of the other.”

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

Heart of Darkness– Joseph Conrad (1899-Fiction)

“They howled and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity—like yours—the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar. Ugly. Yes, it was ugly enough; but if you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you just the faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you—you so remote from the night of first ages—could comprehend. And why not? The mind of man is capable of anything—because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future. What was there after all: joy, fear, sorrow, devotion, valour, rage—who can tell?—but truth—truth stripped of its cloak of time. Let the fool gape and shudder—the man knows, and can look on without a wink.”

-Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

When the Emperor Was Divine- Julie Otsuka (2002-Fiction)

“So go ahead and lock me up. Take my children. Take my wife. Freeze my assets. Seize my crops. Search my office. Ransack my house. Cancel my insurance. Auction off my business. Hand over my lease. Assign me a number. Inform me of my crime. Too short, too dark, too ugly, too proud. Put it down in writing—is nervous in conversation, always laughs loudly at the wrong time, never laughs at all—and I’ll sign on the dotted line. Is treacherous and cunning, is ruthless, is cruel. And if they ask you someday what it was I most wanted to say, please tell them, if you would, it was this:

            I’m sorry.

            There. That’s it. I’ve said it. Now can I go?”

-Julie Otsuka, When the Emperor Was Divine


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