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Summer of Public Health: Reading Recommendations

Representatives from ASPPH member institutions have put together a recommended Summer of Public Health reading list. The list will help those looking to enrich their minds while enjoying the summer months.

Dean Sandro Galea, Boston University School of Public Health, recommends The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between, “a memoir written by Mr. Hisham Matar who returned to Libya after twenty-two years to find echoes of his father who was in opposition to, and eventually kidnapped by the Qaddafi regime. The book is eloquently evocative of the pain that comes with not knowing what happens to loved ones caught in the eddies of geopolitical conflict, and a meditation of how the past haunts and shapes the present.”

Dean Linda P. Fried, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, recommends the report, “Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research,” from the National Academy of Medicine. The critical issues of public health increasingly need interdisciplinary, cross-departmental science to develop the most valid understanding and solutions. To that end, Dean Fried invites the School’s faculty to read this report as a basis for developing and sustaining robust interdisciplinary teams dedicated to these critical issues.

Dean Cheryl G. Healton, New York University College of Global Public Health, recommends Cannery Row by Mr. John Steinbeck. An avid reader of Mr. Steinbeck’s work, Cannery Row is by far her favorite. The book is as relevant and inspiring today as it was in 1945 when it was first published.  It chronicles a community in small town Monterey, CA, struggling through the Great Depression and surviving on their shared values.

Interim Dean Cristine Delnevo and Incoming Dean Perry N. Halkitis, Rutgers School of Public Health, have several summer reading suggestions: Interim Dean Cristine Delnevo recommends Another Brooklyn by Ms. Jacqueline Woodson. She is looking forward to reading this New York Times Bestseller, which illuminates the formative and sometimes heartbreaking time when childhood gives way to adulthood. This summer, she is also re-reading Civil Warriors: The Legal Siege on the Tobacco Industry by Mr. Dan Ziegart, which she says “reads like a John Grisham novel and serves as a stark reminder of pro-industry forces whose bottom line is at odds with the public’s health.”

Incoming Dean Halkitis recommends How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS by Mr. David France. The book is a powerful story of the grassroots movement of activists, many of them in a life-or-death struggle, who seized upon scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease. His second recommendation, Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America by Ms. Laurie Kaye Abraham, takes a profound look at the human face of healthcare by immersing readers in the lives of four generations of a poor, African-American family, facing devastating illness. The book begs readers to question, “Why do inner city neighborhoods, surrounded by some of the Nation’s finest medical facilities, house some of the sickest and most medically underserved communities?” The book, in part, inspired incoming Dean Halkitis to create an Urban Health concentration, in the School’s Newark, New Jersey location. Newark residents are some of the sickest and most vulnerable individuals in the state, so this concertation was designed to first and foremost serve the residents of Newark by training them to become public health professionals and researchers, who will then deliver services to the population of Newark.

Dean Laura A. Siminoff, Temple University College of Public Health, suggests Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Mr. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz — a great read for public health researchers and behavioral scientists that highlights the potential of big data to facilitate our understanding of human health behavior.

Interim Dean Joel Kaufman, University of Washington School of Public Health, recommends Dreamland, The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Mr. Sam Quinones. Mr. Quinones, a former Los Angeles Times reporter, is a good storyteller, Dean Kaufman says. Though the book is aimed at a lay audience, it “nicely lays out a couple of the threads of how we got to our current situation, though perhaps minimizing a few important factors. I’m still waiting to read the how-to guide for solving the very real public health crisis we face now, but don’t think it’s been written yet,” Dean Kaufman adds. “It is time for creative and courageous investment of resources into community and individual interventions. Really addressing this crisis will require a willingness to leave dogmatic orthodoxy at the door to develop, test, and implement evidence-based solutions.”