Your summer 2024 book recommendations

We’re back this summer with our annual list of member-submitted book recommendations! Whether you’re a bookworm or a casual reader, there’s lots to explore — this year’s list includes 17 picks from fiction, memoir, science and nature, and personal development. Happy reading! 

Disclaimer: All items in this list are recommendations submitted by Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (Royal College) or residents; their appearance in this list does not constitute endorsement of the books and/or their contents by the Royal College.


Here After (2024)

Amy Lin

“The author is the daughter of the respected and esteemed recently retired plastic surgeon, Dr. Alan Lin in Calgary, Atla. It is a deeply moving memoir on grief and loss after the sudden death of her husband of one year. A heartfelt, touching, deeply reflective read for anyone, particularly any person affected by the grieving process.” — Jeanie Kanashiro, MD, FRCSC, general surgery at Peter Lougheed Centre, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

And Finally (2023) 
Henry Marsh

And Finally

“The retired British neurosurgeon, Dr. Henry Marsh, returns, not so much with matters of life and death as his own, ‘Gawande’ revelation. Eminently digestible and delicious fare, as always. The volume ends with perhaps, a not as ambiguous as intended teaser. I, for one, remain optimistic.” — J.N. Trott, MD, FRCPC, neurologist

Who Killed My Father (2018)

Édouard Louis

“A short and poignant work, this book is a brief but emotional foray into a troubled father-son relationship defined by social, political, and interpersonal forces. This thoughtfully written book encourages a deeper reflection on the human condition and the relations of power.” — David Caron, MD, FRCPC, psychiatrist at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, Montréal

Between Two Kingdoms (2021) 
Suleika Jaouad

“A deeply touching and insightful memoir of a young woman facing AML and navigating an uncertain future, a drive to create, and a wish to connect deeply with others.” — Kerry Galenzoski, MD, FRCPC, psychiatrist in Winnipeg

Everything All at Once (2023)

Steph Catudal

“This book is a brief memoir from a woman processing grief from her childhood that she is confronted with when her husband is diagnosed with cancer. That sentence makes the book sound heavy and hard to read but it is nothing like that. It is written so beautifully and with such grace. The story of this young couple is so moving. It is a story of resilience and love.” — Gillian MacLean, MBChB, FRCPC, assistant professor & clerkship director, Queen’s University, Kingston


From the Ashes (2019) 

Jesse Thistle

“A quintessentially Canadian story of love, redemption, strength, resilience and compassion. A must read for any physician treating Métis, First Nations and Inuit survivors and their descendants.” — Catherine Gray, MD, FRCPC, general internist/addiction medicine at The Ottawa Hospital   


Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast (2023) 
John Vaillant

“A gripping play-by-play of the Fort McMurray conflagration of 2016, the author warns that the event was a preview of what we must be prepared for in a hotter, more flammable world, and how it is a consequence of climate change.” — Suzanne Perkins, MDCM, FRCPC, general adult psychiatrist, Stanton Territorial Hospital, Yellowknife

A Brief History of Intelligence: Evolution, AI, and the Five Breakthroughs That Made Our Brains (2023) 
Max Bennett

“Drawing from evolutionary neuroscience, Bennett masterfully weaves together the intricate story of brain development, offering invaluable insights into the origins of human cognition and behaviour. This book serves as an essential guide for unravelling the intricacies of the human mind while also offering a glimpse into the potential of artificial intelligence and its implications.” — Mike Kalisiak, MD, FRCPC, dermatologist, Calgary


The Covenant of Water (2023) 
Abraham Verghese

“An amazing, gripping and epic novel written by a physician; he also reads it himself in audiobook format, which is what I listened to, and it comes to life. Not light-hearted, the book illustrates the complexity of life in a region of India through generations of a family that have a curious history of tragic death by drowning in each generation. He writes like a modern Tolstoy with rich imagery, complex characters and vibrant descriptions of historical experiences.” — Pauline Pytka, MD, FRCPC

Americanah (2013) 
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“It examines issues of race, sexuality and identity in contemporary American society. The storyline is woven around the lives of characters that are very believable. It encourages the recent immigrant to reconsider what success may look like and it challenges the settled to understand the experiences of others. Its messages are very relevant to the wider Canadian medical society.” — Itoro I. Udo, MBBS, FRCPC, psychiatrist at City Clinic & Wellness Centre, London, Ont.

Hello Beautiful (2023) 
Ann Napolitano

“This book takes you deeply inside its characters and follows them over the course of their lives, switching back and forth between persons and events. I felt like I was a member of the family feeling all the "feels" with them. A wonderful story of family connections.” — Wendy Edwards, MD, FRCPC, semi-retired pediatrician from Chatham, Ont.

A Man Called Ove (2015) 
Fredrick Bachman

“A quick read, funny and relatable at the same time.” — Allison Bunney, MD, FRCPC, consulting pediatrician in Ottawa

Babel: An Arcane History (2023) 
R. F. Kuang

“This is a wonderful exercise in speculative fiction. It is an exploration of language and complex recent British imperial history through a fantasy lens.” — David Szwajcer, MD, FRCPC, hematologist at CancerCare Manitoba


Metropolis: A History of the City, Humankind's Greatest Invention (2020) 
Ben Wilson

“A fascinating and detailed dive into how cities have grown, developed and enriched the human experience as crucial points of change and innovation. The author covers cities from Uruk and Babylon, to Rome, Paris, London, New York and Lagos as he shows how cities have been essential in the development and spread of things we take for granted: democracy, swimming pools, coffee, corporations (and stock markets), indoor dining (restaurants) and key elements of modern culture.” — David Barbic, MD, FRCPC, emergency physician, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver

The Anxious Generation (2024) 
Jonathan Haidt

“Interesting read about the changes in our society, including the rise of smart phones and social media, and their impact on children.” — Maulik Baxi, MBBS, FRCPC, medical health officer & medical director at Fraser Health Authority, British Columbia


Atomic Habits (2018) 
James Clear

“This book is full of practical but simple approaches to building better habits. I have been able to apply many of the pearls to my daily life, such as ‘Be 1% better every day,’ ‘Focus on your systems, not your goals’ and ‘Never miss twice.’” — Bob Connelly, MD, FRCPC, neonatologist at Kingston Health Sciences Centre

Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish the Peas: Secrets from the Science of Toddlers for a Happier, More Successful Way of Life (2024) 
Hasan Merali

“In this book, Dr. Hasan Merali argues that toddlers are among the best people in society and we have a lot to learn from them. Packed with evidence-based, practical tips, this is a fascinating read on how we can improve both our personal and professional lives.” — Bijan Teja, MD, FRCPC, anesthesiologist & intensivist at St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto

Looking for more ideas? Check out last year’s list!