I love to read book reviews as I love to read. In fact, I eagerly await the arrival of the NY Times Book Review each week in the mail, and in addition, peruse the book review section of virtually every publication we receive – “Natural History,” “Scientific American,” our daily paper, and much more. Book reviews are not only a guide to the literature from which I make my “to read” list, it is also a wonderful source of historical and literary information.
I also have written numerous book reviews for medical journals, criticizing both the medical and scientific information as well as the quality of writing. Never have I been rewarded as much as when I wrote the review of an early edition of what is now considered THE BIBLE of pediatric infectious diseases. It was and is encyclopedic. However, this edition, in one volume, was of such great heft, that even in my healthier days I needed my husband’s assistance in putting it before me. With tongue in cheek, I wrote that this outstanding book was “like an overweight woman struggling to get into a too tight undergarment.”
The journal decided to publish the review, to my amazement, intact. Awhile later I received a letter from a former (outstanding) student, now a medical school faculty member. She wrote that she had circulated the review around the faculty and all had enjoyed it. However, Marilyn had one question for me, “When did you ever have to squeeze into any garment?” What fun to hear from a bright young physician. And, oh yes, the next edition – which I also was asked to review – was in two volumes.