Each month, we ask people from across the Brigham to answer a question for our “Look Who’s Talking” feature. This issue, we’re asking what’s on your summer reading list. If you would like to add your voice to the conversation, please submit a comment at the bottom of the page.

“Given the toll that COVID-19 has had (more than 4 million deaths world-wide) and the impact it has had on the mental well-being of many, I have been reflecting and reading on life purpose and meaning as a physician and more broadly, as a human. To that end I have been reading several spiritual and philosophical texts including the Torah, the Bible and Zen in the Martial Arts.”
— Anthony D’Amico, MD, PhD, Chief of Genitourinary Radiation Oncology


“I’m currently reading The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson about Jennifer Doudna and the CRISPR discovery and I’m surprised how much I really love it. I’m enjoying the history of the discoveries and how tricky the intellectual property disputes were, but mostly I love getting to know Jennifer Doudna as a very down to earth and brilliant thinker and leader — from a young girl who felt like an outsider in Hawaii, to a Nobel Prize winner.  For my vacation, I’ll be bringing The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett as I like to read a novel on vacation and this got a lot of press and good reviews, as well as Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer which sounds like the most beautiful book about what nature, especially plants, can teach us about life.” — Lydia Lynch, PhD, principal investigator, Division of Endocrinology and the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology


“I have been reading a fantasy series titled Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond to my 6-year old daughter. The books, authored by Dr. Sayantani DasGupta, are inspired by Bengali folk tales and feature an Indian American middle-school girl living in New Jersey as the protagonist. The books are a wonderful combination of wit, magic and metaphysics with an important underlying message: Respect and honor your own identity while according the same to someone else no matter how different they seem. It’s been a great bonding experience that has led to many conversations about diversity with my daughter!”
— Anu Swaminathan, PhD, Director, Scientific Programs & Partnerships, Brigham Research Institute


 “This summer, I am reading the novel Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. It is the first in a trilogy of novels based in 19th century India and South East Asia at the height of the opium wars. This was a fascinating period of history with many different civilizations colliding and Amitav Ghosh’s historical fiction weaves the richest tapestries of this wondrous but turbulent time.” — Haider Warraich, MD, Associate Physician, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine



 “The DEI Committee in the Brigham Development Office is sponsoring an office-wide read of Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. A few of us had read Caste over the past year, and, as one colleague said so well, it is a book that is beautifully written and researched — and it changes you. It removes blinders and opens our minds and hearts. It changes forever perceptions of racism in our country and throughout the world and deepens understanding of systemic racism as a public health issue. We are grateful for the chance to read and discuss this book with our colleagues, as part of our department’s commitment to examining and working to eliminate these egregious disparities.” — Jessica Keener, Associate Director, Proposal Management of Development Office

Sunny Happen headshot “I would highly recommend Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.  On my reading list for the summer are Deacon King Kong by James McBride, Noise—A Flaw in Human Judgment by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass R. Sunstein, and Wild Game:  My Mother, Her Secret and Me by Adrienne Brodeur.” — Sunil Eappen, MD, MBA, Interim President of Brigham and Women’s Hospital



“I have recently been reading David McCullough’s The Greater Journey: American in Paris. This book profiles so many Americans who left their homeland for a time to grow and embrace the worldly experiences of Europe (and, specifically, Paris).  Though I have yet to finish the book, the transformative impact of such an experience on the individual echoes repeatedly through McCullough’s descriptions. Though on a smaller scale, it makes me reflect on the transformative experiences each of us have and how important they are to learning and growth — whether part of training, research endeavors, clinical practice, or job growth. And to not be afraid of that next step, whatever it may be.” — Erik Alexander, MD, Vice President of Education



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