Books for the Holidays: Our Faculty Share Their Favorites

The winter holidays are almost upon us, which means two things with regard to books: there will be opportunities to give them and more time to read them. Here are 17 recommendations from members of the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute and faculty at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.


All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
“I have really enjoyed reading Anthony Doerr. This is a fantastic novel – it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2015 – and Doerr is a beautiful writer. I’m part way through The Shell Collector, a collection of short stories by Doerr. It is widely varied but most have highly creative plots and interesting characters.”
–Michael Privitera, MD, director, UC Epilepsy Center, and professor of neurology

All the Light We Cannot See is about a blind French girl and a German orphan boy whose paths ultimately merge in occupied France. The presence of light in darkness, on many levels, intrigues and inspires in this beautifully written novel.
–Lori Uphaus, administrative director, UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, by Candice Millard
“Who knew our short-lived 20th president from Ohio was an extraordinary individual? This is the fascinating true story and tragedy of James A. Garfield, his rise from poverty, accelerated education, important role in the Civil War, entry into politics and unlikely (and reluctant) choice for presidential candidate. Garfield was an intellectually gifted, enlightened leader whose accomplishments and efforts against political corruption were cut short only a few short months into his presidency in 1881. The lively narrative also details the convoluted path of his mentally ill assassin and the backstabbing politics and inept medical care that ultimately led to Garfield’s preventable demise.”
–Kim Seroogy, PhD, director of the Selma Schottenstein Harris Lab for Research in Parkinson’s and professor of neurology

The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
“A gripping story of nine rugged young men from the Pacific Northwest who shocked the world by beating Adolf Hilter’s vaunted German team in the 1936 Olympic men’s eight rowing final.”
–Ronald Warnick, MD, director of the UC Brain Tumor Center and professor of neurosurgery and radiation oncology


Proust Was a Neuroscientist, by Jonah Lehrer
“It is an older book, but the chapter on Stravinsky is phenomenal.”
–Sid Khosla MD, director of the UC Health Professional Voice Center and the UC Center for Laryngeal Biomechanics and Reconstruction and associate professor of otolaryngology

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
“The story of a neurosurgeon’s experience with terminal cancer. An incredible read that puts life and death in perspective.”
–Patricia Colapietro, MD, physician in the Waddell Center for Multiple Sclerosis and assistant professor of neurology


An Unquiet Mind: A memoir of moods and madness, by Kay Redfield Jamison
“This is an eloquent, well written book about bipolar disorder by someone who has experience with it as both a clinician and patient.”
–Cal Adler, MD, co-director, UC Mood Disorders Center and professor of psychiatry

Getting your Life Back, by Jesse Wright and Monica Bosco
“An excellent self-help book for depression that includes a good overview of the biology of depression and how medication works, as one of the ‘Five Keys for Recovery.’ The program is based on cognitive behavioral therapy, which has the best evidence base for treating depression, and is written by two acknowledged experts in the field.”
–Scott Ries, MSW, LISW, associate professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, by Brene’ Brown
“I recommend this book for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed with trying to be perfect, especially in the age of social media. Embrace your authentic self and accept your flaws, because our flaws not only humble us, but they make us who we are. In order to recognize and experience love, we must first learn to accept and love ourselves.”
–Matia B. Solomon, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience

The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems,
by Ronald Siegel
“Siegel describes how using a centuries-old practice of learning to live in the here and now can be used to better manage anxiety, depression, physical pain and relationships. He includes several exercises to get the novice started, and recommends other exercises for learning to accept whatever life sends your way.”
–Scott Ries, MSW, LISW


Smarter Faster Better, By Charles Duhigg
“A book that explains the secrets of productivity and how our choices make the difference between meeting expectations and exceeding them.”
–Brett Kissela, MD, MS, professor and the Albert Barnes Voorheis Chair of the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey
“More than any book, it changed the way I saw and approached work and, indeed, life.”
–Dan Woo, MD, MS, associate director of clinical research at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute  and professor of neurology and rehabilitation medicine


Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve
“I don’t have a book selection at this time, but I would recommend the movie Arrival. It is a wonderfully made science-fiction movie about the nature of life, time, memory and communication. Still has me thinking about it the day after seeing it.”
— Joseph Broderick, MD, director, UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute

Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, by Bill Bryson
“A truly wonderful book to pick up and browse and read in little bits and pieces, and yet it can be read from cover to cover. Did you know to decimate something is to reduce by 10 percent? Or make it 90 percent of what it once was? Bill Bryson knew.”
–Dan Woo, MD, MS, associate director of clinical research at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute  and professor of neurology and rehabilitation medicine

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, by Daniel Quinn
“I might not agree with everything in this book, but it definitely gave me a perspective on the environment that finally made sense to me.”
–Dan Woo, MD, MS

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, by Meg Meeker, MD
“The title says it all! As a father of two daughters, it made me even more committed to being a great dad.”
–Ravi Samy, MD, director of the Adult Cochlear Implantation Program and associate professor of otolaryngology

A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League, by Ron Suskind
“This is the most memorable book I read this year. With perception, empathy and excruciating detail, Suskind tells the story of Cedric Jenkins, who refuses to let poverty, peer pressure and an underperforming high school thwart his ambitions. Cedric lands his moonshot but never escapes the relentless shadow of race and class in America.

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