A Brief History of Medicine by Paul Strathern

The History of Medicine

Medicine has undergone tremendous changes since it’s inception. It’s past is steeped in superstition and emerged from the murky depths.
Medicine was a limb of philosophy. Before the advent of scientific thinking and the renaissance, diseases were considered a result of sin. Some men with a scientific temper in its rudimentary form sought to seek out the truth behind the human body.

This non-fiction traces the history of medicine from the beginning to the advent of gene therapy. We travel through the labs of many great men of medicine and witness the invention of vaccines, microbes and organs.
It is saddening to see the dearth of women in this field. We get a glimpse of Florence Nightingale and a few others but not more.

Very elaborate yet simple writing, this book is layman-friendly. You learn much about the interesting facts about your body. A big salute to those giants of science who worked in the days when the equipment was a myth. Ingenious thinking, observation and trial by error led to the medicine we observe now.

We get an idea about pharmacological revolutions that erased many deadly diseases and controlled many.
Since it is a very niche topic, you might need a bit of time to complete this one. But trust me, it is worth the effort.

A Room Of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

During my Undergraduate years,  I stumbled upon this essay by Virginia Woolf. She states that if a woman is to write , she needs a room and money. This book contains the lectures delivered by her at two Womens’ Colleges.

Woolf was to deliver a lecture on the topic ‘ Women in Fiction’ . She sets out to explore the presence of women in the world of literature and discovered that women remained just a footnote in the Book of Literature. Wife -beating was a prevelant practice and they were denied education.  Woolf realized that when they were denied the basic rights of freedom and education how were they supposed to write fiction?

She asked us, had Shakespeare a sister of similar interests and abilities would she have received the same applause and exposure? The answer was a definite no! She would have written down her works in hiding and burned them in fear that she might be persecuted for it. This ignited the anonymous trend of women writers. Women started to publish books under male pseudonyms.

The topic, the themes and even the way women wrote were brought under scrutiny. Woolf discovered women characters were represented in relation to the men in the writings. She was not considered as a human with her own interests and desires. She was just a shadow of man, an extra character that can be done without!
This 6 part essay gives a much needed perspective on Feminism and what Feminists desire. She says everyone should  be androgynous (both male and female) in mind  to be the best versions of themselves.

Any writing, to be enjoyable  should be free from the shackles of gender. It should be like a river, flowing free, like the soft glow of Sun falling through the space between the curtains! It should beautify what it touches, swathing even the most ordinary in an extraordinary way!

This book was on my TBR for a long time and I regret taking such a long time to pick it up. A must-read for all Literature enthusiasts.