At Health Stories Project, we’re fascinated by stories related to health and medicine, from the personal to the deeply profound. While this blog often focuses on sharing your stories, we also like to occasionally give a shout-out to some of the interesting books out there that delve into the human health experience. We’ve put together a roundup of new or new-ish selections we thought you might find worthwhile.


Coming soon


Radical: The Science, Culture, and History of Breast Cancer in America

By Kate Pickert

Available Oct. 1

Health-care journalist Katie Pickert was just 35 years old when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. As she went through a year of intensive treatment, she realized just how much today’s cutting-edge options differ from yesterday’s radical procedures. This prompted her to take a deep dive into the history of breast cancer and its treatment; she interviewed doctors, patients, advocates, researchers, and even economists. She also tapped her own journal entries for personal context. People magazine, which calls the book “unflinching,” included Radical on its Best Books of Fall list.


The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness

By Susannah Cahalan

Available Nov. 5

It sounds like a thrilling suspense movie. In 1973, a Stanford psychologist devised a monumental experiment to test the legitimacy of America’s psychiatric practices and institutions. How? He and seven other carefully selected, mentally stable people went undercover at “insane asylums,” and were forced to prove themselves “sane.” They all left with serious diagnoses and harrowing stories, which led to a wide push for reform and the closing of institutions. Except — perhaps that wasn’t the whole story after all. Intrepid young reporter Susannah Cahalan unravels the mystery behind the mission that changed modern medicine.


Just out


The Heart: A History

By Sandeep Jauhar

From the bestselling author of Intern and Doctored, cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar’s latest book takes a look at a subject close to his own heart. The Heart: A History puts the hard-working, life-sustaining organ into cultural and medical context, focusing on the human stories behind the groundbreaking procedures that have transformed and saved millions of lives. The author sees heroism in the brilliant doctors and in the patients who risk their lives for medical progress. Jauhar also weaves in stories of his own family’s history of heart problems and ponders what future technologies might look like.




Separating From Service: The Mental Health Handbook for Transitioning Veterans

By Eric Burleson

Easing back into civilian life isn’t always so easy. With a forward by Nate Boyers — former Green Beret, Texas Longhorn, and Seattle Seahawk — this book offers helpful, practical information for returning veterans and their families, including the latest in mental health research. Focusing on the psychological challenges that countless veterans face, from the mundane to the serious, the book features exercises to help those who served cope with stress and adapt to their new lives.


Related: Health Stories Project Bookshelf: 4 Resources for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change

By Mary Beth Pfeiffer

As the earth grows warmer, ticks are spreading to places they’ve never lived before and they’re bringing another unwelcome guest with them: Lyme disease. Author Mary Beth Pfeiffer takes a frightening look at the mysterious disease and its seemingly inevitable spread, making a strong case that Lyme is the first true epidemic of climate change. To humanize the global crisis, she includes personal stories of people whose entire lives have been turned upside down by a single tick bite.


The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women

By Kate Moore

A century ago, a new product called radium became all the rage. Young women flocked to factories, where they painted watches and clocks with the sensational glow-in-the-dark substance. After work, they left dusted with the substance, which made them literally shine. Except they started to get sick. Extremely sick. And then some died. This compelling book tells their story through letters, diary entries, and court transcripts, as the “Radium Girls” fought for justice from the employers who poisoned them and then tried to evade responsibility.


It’s Okay to Laugh: (Crying is Cool Too)

By Nora McInerny Purmort 

Nora McInerny Purmort has been through some stuff. Her husband Arron was diagnosed with rare form of blood cancer and they packed fifty years of marriage into the three years they got. She wrote this memoir about this experience and brings a fresh twist on dark, hard topics. Nora was also featured in our first podcast round-up. She’s the host of Terrible, Thanks For Asking a show devoted to talking honestly about your pain.


Related: Health Stories Project Bookshelf: Brain Boost Edition


Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Start-up

By John Carreyrou

Before it was a podcast and an HBO documentary, the story of Elizabeth Holmes was uncovered in a nonfiction book by Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyou. Theranos, Elizabeth’s start-up, promised to put the power of blood testing into the hands of the people. She sold angel investors, employees, consumers and the world on the idea that with two drops of blood her Edison machines could run over 200 blood tests simultaneously with more accuracy that traditional blood draws. But, there was one big problem. The technology didn’t work.


You can also share what you’re reading this fall in the comments below!