Summer Reading Recommendations – 2023

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”

Charles W. Eliot
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I’ve always been an avid reader. Whenever I have some free time, you’ll usually find my nose buried in a book (especially now that I can read on almost any electronic device). And, since Memorial Day is traditionally considered the “unofficial” start of Summer, I thought I’d share some of my favorite reads from the first half of 2023 to consider adding to your beach reading list.

I read across a wide variety of genres, so I’m including some healthcare technology books along with some of my favorite fiction and nonfiction titles from this year so far. (All hyperlinks are to the Kindle versions of the book.)

First is The AI Revolution in Medicine: GPT-4 and Beyond by Peter Lee, Ph.D., Carey Goldberg, and Isaac “Zak” Kohane, MD, Ph.D. Whether you’re a physician, patient, healthcare leader, payer, policymaker, or investor, AI will profoundly impact you — and it might make the difference between life or death. Be informed, be ready, and take charge — with this book. A terrific read that separates the hype from the potential of this vital technology.

Redefining the Boundaries of Medicine: The High-Tech, High-Touch Path Into the Future by Paul Cerrato, MA, and John D. Halamka, MD, MS. Redefining the Boundaries of Medicine by Paul Cerrato and Dr. John Halamka challenges the profession to renegotiate its priorities and address the fact that it’s become timid and reluctant to explore new care delivery models. The guiding premise of this book is that rethinking and reimagining the way medicine is practiced in the 21st century will improve health outcomes and that technology is central to this transformation.

Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity by Peter Attia, MD, with Bill Gifford. Dr. Peter Attia draws on the latest science to deliver innovative nutritional interventions, techniques for optimizing exercise and sleep, and tools for addressing emotional and mental health. This is not “biohacking”; it’s science: a well-founded strategic and tactical approach to extending lifespan while also improving our physical, cognitive, and emotional health. Dr. Attia’s aim is less to tell you what to do and more to help you learn how to think about long-term health to create the best plan for you as an individual.

How Covid Crashed the System: A Guide to Fixing American Health Care by Dr. David Nash and Charles Wohlforth. Covid patients overwhelmed American hospitals. The world’s most advanced and expensive healthcare system crumbled, short of supplies and personnel. The U.S. lost more patients than any other nation during the pandemic. How could this happen? And how could this disaster lead to a more resilient, rational, and equitable healthcare system in the future? Using systemic analysis of the Covid crash, the authors find reasons to hope. America’s healthcare establishment resisted reform for decades, mired in waste and avoidable errors. Now, the pandemic crisis has exposed its flaws for all to see, creating opportunities for systemic changes. Even without new laws or government policies, America is moving toward a transformed health system responsible for our wellness.

Tom Peters’ Compact Guide to Excellence by Tom Peters and Nancye Green. Tom Peters’ Compact Guide to Excellence (IdeaPress Publishing) is full of inspiration for anyone aged 20 to 80, from cashiers to CEOs. Legendary, best-selling business author Tom Peters partnered with the iconic designer Nancye Green of Donovan/Green to create this guidebook for leaders in the workplace. Peters and Green have packed this strikingly designed little book with exhilarating quotes that will urge you to recognize what truly matters at work. Over the decades, Peters has gathered these gems of wisdom from those down in the trenches creating extraordinary places to work. Green has wrought the most accessible and captivating way to absorb that wisdom. I’ve been a Tom Peters fan since he co-authored In Search of Excellence with Bob Waterman. Tom Peters’ Compact Guide to Excellence argues that business leaders must start putting people first and helping them prepare for a rocky future. As we come to terms with the debilitating pandemic, confront extreme wealth inequality, and wrestle with destabilizing technological revolutions still in their infancy, it is clear that “Extreme Humanism”—treating one another humanely—is the best path forward.

Strategy Savvy: Balanced Strategy Development Approach Using Insights, Culture, Operations, and Digitization by Hesham O. Dinana, Ph.D. I was especially delighted to purchase and read this book since Dr. Dinana is a former Philips colleague of mine. Many strategy books focus on the perspective of large multinational corporations that have the capacity and capabilities to develop and implement a strategy using very structured methodologies and tools. This book will add a new dimension by focusing on the use of Strategy-as-Practice (SaP), intuition, and serendipity as important complements that can be used by large corporations as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs to develop and implement winning strategies. This is an important dimension to support the strategic decision-making process frequently undermined in traditional strategic planning and management-focused books. He presents an approach driven by four propellers—insights, culture, operations, and digitization—to ensure the arrival at a better future. I loved this re-envisioning of how to approach strategy in any sized organization.

From Whispers to Shouts: The Ways We Talk About Cancer by Elaine Schattner. It’s hard today to remember how recently cancer was a silent killer, a dreaded disease that people rarely discuss publicly. In hospitals and doctors’ offices, conversations about malignancy were hushed, and hope was limited. In this deeply researched book, Elaine Schattner reveals a sea change—from before 1900 to the present—in how ordinary people talk about cancer. The book examines the public perception of cancer through stories in newspapers and magazines, social media, and popular culture. It probes the evolving relationship between journalists and medical specialists and illuminates the role of women and charities in distributing medical information. Schattner traces the origins of patient advocacy and activism from the 1920s onward, highlighting how, while doctors have lost control of messages about cancer, survivors have gained visibility and voice.

Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421 by TJ Newman. The flight attendant turned New York Times bestselling author T. J. Newman returns with an edge-of-your-seat thriller (no, really) about a commercial jetliner that crashes into the ocean and sinks to the bottom with passengers trapped inside—and the extraordinary rescue operation to save them. I couldn’t put this one down. I read it in a single evening. I can’t wait for the movie version.

The Last Kingdom (Cotton Malone Book 17) by Steve Berry. I have read all seventeen books in this series. And this latest doesn’t disappoint. I’ve also visited King Ludwig’s castle in Bavaria, so the subject matter fascinated me. King Ludwig II of Bavaria was an enigmatic figure who was deposed in 1886, mysteriously drowning three days later. Eccentric to the point of madness, history tells us that in the years before he died, Ludwig engaged in a worldwide search for a new kingdom, one separate, apart, and in place of Bavaria. A place he could retreat into and rule as he wished. But a question remains: did he succeed? Another great read.

The Cabinet of Dr. Leng (Agent Pendergast Series Book 21) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. This is another series that I’ve read for years. Preston & Child continue their #1 bestselling series featuring FBI Special Agent Pendergast and Constance Greene as they cross paths with New York’s deadliest serial killer: Pendergast’s own ancestor…and now his greatest foe. These authors never disappoint.

The Nazi Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch. With all the hallmarks of a Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch page-turner, The Nazi Conspiracy explores the great political minds of the twentieth century, investigating the pivotal years of the war in gripping detail. This meeting of the Big Three changed the course of World War II. Here’s the inside story of how it almost led to a world-shattering disaster.

Escaping Gravity: My Quest to Transform NASA and Launch a New Space Age by Lori Garver. Escaping Gravity is former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver’s firsthand account of how a handful of revolutionaries overcame the political patronage and bureaucracy that threatened the space agency. The success of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and countless other commercial space efforts were preceded by decades of work by a group of people Garver calls “space pirates.” Their quest to transform NASA put Garver in the crosshairs of Congress, the aerospace industry, and hero astronauts trying to protect their own profits and mythology within a system that had held power since the 1950s. As a certifiable “space nut,” I enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at how this evolved.

So there you have my dozen recommendations for your reading pleasure this Summer. Let me know in the comments whether you have any other books I should consider adding. I’m always looking for the next great reading adventure. Thanks for reading the blog and your comments and suggestions for additional topics to research and post. Enjoy the Summer and happy reading!

Books I Loved Reading This Year

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”

William Styron, Conversations with William Styron
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I’ve always loved reading. As a kid, I couldn’t wait to get my library card. Once I finally had one, I would walk down to the Lincoln Park branch of the Chicago Public Library and load up on as many books as I could check out and still expect to read in the two-week loan period. I always had my nose buried in a book. My reading tastes varied widely, even at a young age. I loved science fiction and read everything I could get my hands on. I devoured Azimov’s Foundation trilogy (and am enjoying the Apple TV+ series now – even though it doesn’t match the novels closely). I loved Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Orson Scott Card, Ursula Le Guin, and countless others. Those writers jump-started my interest in technology and the future – both topics I’ve been fortunate to explore in-depth throughout my professional career.

As I got older, I started reading more non-fiction books – especially biographies and histories. And space, anything about space exploration is on my reading list. Growing up, I watched every Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo mission on TV. I continued to follow the space program missions – from Skylab, through the Shuttle, the ISS, and all the JPL planetary missions, even today (NASA TV is on my Roku device). So, it probably won’t surprise you that there’s a novel about space in my favorites this year.

Getting the list down to a manageable number was tough. But, after a lot of thought, some novel scoring algorithms (none of which would qualify as scientific), and in no particular order, here are six that I’d recommend as a gift to yourself or another reader in your family.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – I did say I loved science fiction, right? Like most people, I was first introduced to Weir’s writing through The Martian. His latest novel is a wild tale about a high school science teacher who wakes up in a different star system with no memory of how he got there. The rest of the story is all about how he uses science and engineering to save the day. I have both the Kindle and Audible versions, and I love that I can bounce back and forth between the two.

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson – Isaacson is another author that I read religiously. I have his biographies of Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci. So when he released this book, it was a no-brainer for me – especially because I’ve followed and reported on Dr. Doudna’s work. The CRISPR gene-editing system is perhaps the most powerful scientific breakthrough of the last decade. I learned a lot from this comprehensive and accessible book about the discovery. Isaacson does a good job highlighting the most important ethical questions around gene editing.

Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response by Andy Slavitt – I’ve been following Slavitt’s work since his days at CMS during the Obama administration. As CMS administrator, he was able to work across the aisle, though quietly, more than some predecessors. His pragmatic problem-solving (he dislikes the word “technocrat”) approach helped him build good ties with much of the health care industry and many governors, including those in red and purple states. I wanted an honest account of what happened during the pandemic and got it in this book.

Deep Tech: Demystifying the Breakthrough Technologies That Will Revolutionize Everything by Eric Redmond – The world of “deep tech” has launched seven simultaneous global revolutions: artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain and cryptocurrencies, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, and quantum computing—a perfect storm that will drive the global economy for the next decade. Since each of these technologies has applications to health care, I wanted to get a sense of where they stood today from someone who advises groups like the MIT Media Lab and the World Economic Forum. A fascinating read.

The Digital Reconstruction of Healthcare: Transitioning from Brick and Mortar to Virtual Care by Paul Cerrato and John Halamka – This book is part of a series from HIMSS. Although somewhat expensive for an e-book, it is well worth the investment. Everyone is talking about digital health these days and the transitions of much of patient care from hospitals, clinics, and offices to various virtual settings. This book combines Dr. John Halamka’s lessons learned from years of international consulting with government officials on digital health with senior research analyst Paul Cerrato’s expertise in AI, data analytics, and machine learning. Together, these two experts support the contention that these technologies can help solve many of the seemingly intractable problems facing healthcare providers and patients. If you want to move beyond the hype and learn practical, real-world examples of how digital health works, this is THE book to read.

Troy: The Greek Myths Reimagined (Stephen Fry’s Greek Myths Book 3) – Last, but certainly not least, is this latest book from Stephen Fry. I also have the other two but was especially drawn to this volume because I had to study the Trojan myth in high school. Troy is the story of the epic battle retold by Fry with drama, humor, and vivid emotion. This is another one where I have both the printed and audio versions. And hearing Fry narrate his work is a real treat.

Hopefully, one or more of these recommendations has piqued your curiosity or aligns with your interests. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have. If you have favorites of your own, please share them in the comments section below. I’m always looking for another great read.