Literature and Medicine

Interdisciplinary Reading group for the Health Sciences


Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care® is a national, award-winning, humanities reading and discussion program for health care professionals that benefits both them and their patients. The program has received major support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and has been cited as a patient-quality initiative. Open to all students, faculty and staff at UMKC Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

Come join us in our eleventh season of reading, dinner and discussion. We gather at Diastole on the third Thursday each month from September through March excepting December. We share a pot luck dinner at 5:30 with discussion to follow.

If you are interested in participating, contactMarie Thompson

Organizer and Host:  Marie Thompson

Location of meetings: Diastole Scholar's Center, 2501 Holmes

Day and Time: Third Thursdays 5:00 - 8:00PM (Dinner served at 5:30)  


Literature and Medicine 2016-17 Season
The Secret Sharer: Exploring Identity

September 15, 2016
The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad

Photo of book cover-The Secret SharerThe Secret Sharer is a short story that takes place at sea, near the Gulf of Siam, and is told from the perspective of a young nameless Captain. The captain is unfamiliar with both his ship and his crew, having only joined their company a fortnight earlier. The Captain is furthermore unsure of himself, questioning his ability to fulfill the role of such an authoritative figure.

October 20, 2016
An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine by Howard Markel

Photo of book cover An Anatomy of Addiction
Acclaimed medical historian Howard Markel traces the careers of two brilliant young doctors--Sigmund Freud, neurologist, and William Halsted, surgeon--showing how their powerful addictions to cocaine shaped their enormous contributions to psychology and medicine.


November 17, 2016
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Photo of book cover-When Breath Becomes Air At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a naïve medical student "possessed by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life."

January 19, 2017
Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych ER by Julie Holland

Photo of book cover Weekends at BellevueJulie Holland thought she knew what crazy was. Then she came to Bellevue. For nine eventful years, Dr. Holland was the weekend physician in charge of the psychiatric emergency room at New York City's Bellevue Hospital. In this absorbing memoir, Holland recounts stories from her vast case files that are alternately terrifying, tragically comic, and profoundly moving.

February 16, 2017
The Lost  Weekend by Charles Jackson

  Photo of book cover The Lost WeekendThe classic tale of one man's struggle with alcoholism, this revolutionary novel remains Charles Jackson’s best-known book—a daring autobiographical work that paved the way for contemporary addiction literature.

March 15, 2017
Irreplaceable by Stephen Lovely

Photo of Book Cover IrreplaceableIf the protagonist of a novel is the central character, or the heart of the story, in Irreplaceable, the protagonist would be Isabel, or more specifically, her heart. Isabel and her husband, Alex, have been happily married for three years. While riding her bicycle, Isabel is struck by a truck and killed. Having signed an organ donor card, her organs are harvested, and her heart is transplanted into Janet. Janet tracks down Isabel's husband. Lovely describes the transplant process with thoroughness. He presents emotions without making them more outsized.

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