Selected Readings

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Below is a list of readings carefully selected and compiled by scholars who facilitate Literature & Medicine groups in Hawai‘i, in consultation with HCH staff and the host site’s liaison.  The list includes works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry as well as plays, short stories, and personal essays that represent a wide range of voices and perspectives. Each reading raises specific themes and issues related to caring for people—whether they are well, sick or dying—and brings into focus the human experiences of health care.


  • Imagine What It’s Like:  A Literature and Medicine Anthology edited by Ruth Nadelhaft with Victoria Bonebakker


  • The Plague by Albert Camus
  • “Kura” from Baby No-Eyes by Patricia Grace
  • Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures:  Stories by Vincent Lam
  • Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen
  • The Age of Grief:  A Novella and Stories by Jane Smiley
  • The Death of Ivan Illich by Leo Tolstoy


  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
  • How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
  • An Anthropologist on Mars:  Seven Paradoxical Tales by Oliver Sacks


  • “The Physician’s Portrait” from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  • “The Love Story of J. Alfred Prufrock” from Prufrock and Other Observations by T.S. Eliot
  • “Boy girl, furniture, shyness” from The Time of Giants by Anne Kennedy
  • Tsunami Years by Juliet S. Kono


  • “Too Many Doctors” (Based on Moliere’s play, The Imaginary Invalid, adapted by Harriet Dexter Reagh, Pioneer Drama Service, Inc.)

Short Story

  • “The Examining Magistrate” from The Tales of Chekhov, Vol. 11:  The School Master and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov
  • “Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand” from Women of Wonder:  Science Fiction Stories by Women about Women(Pamela Sargent, editor) by Vonda N. McIntyre


  • “Sunday Morning’s ER Prince” by Judy Schaefer from Health Affairs:  The Policy Journal of the Health Sphere 23, no 5