The Human Condition Curated

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Russell Teagarden on The Genius of Marian by Anna Fitch and Banker White

"Pamela Steele White was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of sixty-one. A year later, in 2009, as her disease progression was evident, her son Banker, a documentary filmmaker, turned his camera on, and he kept it on until the autumn of 2012."

Howard Carter on Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson

"Louise Aronson, a geriatrician, argues that we should create Elderhood as the third era of human aging….This new concept will allow us to re-evaluate the richness of this later time, its challenges as body systems decline, and, of course, the choices of managing death."

Carol Schilling on Ladysitting: My Year with Nana at the End of Her Century by Lorene Cary

"In Ladysitting, novelist and memoirist Lorene Carey writes candidly and reflectively about the year and a half she cared for her century-old, ferociously independent paternal grandmother."

Audrey Shafer on Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life by Mallory Smith

"This memoir is recommended for anyone touched by chronic illness and particularly cystic fibrosis."

Audrey Shafer on That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour by Sunita Puri

"Sunita Puri, a palliative care attending physician, educates and illuminates the reader about how conversations about end of life goals can improve quality of life, not just quality of dying…."

Joshua Jiang on The Farewell Directed by Lulu Wang

"The film draws on the real-life experiences of writer and director Lulu Wang, who, in 2013, found out that her grandmother had been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. "

Russell Teagarden on The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

"Her mother’s dementia was the primary inspiration for Solnit’s book…The narrative, the telling, as Solnit conceptualizes illness, can spark imagination and emotional engagement that shapes the experience.."

Martin Kohn on In Two Voices: A Patient and a Neurosurgeon Tell Their Story by Linda Clarke and Michael Cusimano

"About 20 Years ago, Linda E. Clarke, writer, professional storyteller and bioethics consultant was a neurosurgery patient of a colleague, Michael D. Cusimano.... [The book is] a lyrical co-memoir-- at times riveting, at other times sobering of their shared experience."

Cortney Davis on The Ninety-Third Name of God by Anya Krugovoy Silver

“This poetry collection is the first in a series of four books by Anya Silver--each volume continues to track her life through cancer treatment, remission, recurrence, and the anticipation of death.  ….. they are poems of hope and strength, poems that are truly gifts sent to us from the way stations of her difficult journey.” 


Shawn Thomas on Survivors by Arthur Pratt

"Survivors gets up close and personal to the 21-month battle against Ebola in West Africa, and shows how the common people of Sierra Leone risked everything to come together and fight back against an existential threat."


Sebastian Galbo on The Presentation on Egypt by Camille Bordas

"Bordas’ story examines how the fabrication of fiction, of refusing to accept reality, can either ease, or deepen, one’s suffering."



Carol Schilling on Bodies of Truth: Personal Narratives on Illness, Disability, and Medicine edited by Dinty Moore, Erin Murphy and Renée Nicholson

"Bodies of Truth gathers twenty-five essays about experiencing illnesses and disabilities from the perspectives of patients, healthcare professionals, and families."

Richard Ratzan on "I AM" by John Clare

"In [the poem]  the poet affirms his identity, his sorrows to date and ends with the expressed longing for a happier life in the presence of God and the solitude of Nature."

Audrey Shafer on The Unspeakable Mind: Stories of Trauma and Healing from the Frontlines of PTSD Science by Shaili Jain

"A psychiatrist and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) specialist, Dr. Shaili Jain has written a book on PTSD and its many angles, from diagnosis to treatment to a larger perspective on cultural and historic influences on the development of traumatic stress."

Albert Howard Carter on The Scar: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery by Mary Cregan

"The Scar is a powerful, thoughtful, and moving book, part memoir about the author’s illness across some 30 years, part history of depression and its treatment and part essay to evoke cultural and personal values about sickness, suffering, health, and death."

Howard Trachtman on The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

"Makkai succeeds in capturing the humanity and lethality of the HIV epidemic and the extreme consequences for the victims and the survivors alike."

Jack Coulehan on From Reading to Healing: Teaching Medical Professionalism through Literature edited by Michael Blackie and Susan Stagno

"This collection is a useful addition to “literature and medicine” pedagogy....The content includes essays on teaching, as well as a number of canonical stories taught in medical humanities courses."

Sam Perkins on Strange Relation—A memoir of marriage, dementia, and poetry by Rachel Hadas

"In Strange Relation, Rachel Hadas, poet, teacher and classicist, recounts the years just short of a decade of her husband’s descent – retreat is the word she’d prefer – into dementia."

Jack Coulehan on Headcase: LGBTQ Writers and Artists on Mental Health and Wellness edited by Stephanie Schroeder and Teresa Theophano

"Headcase explores themes of mental health, mental illness, and the experience of mental health care services by members of the LGBTQ community."


Joshua Jiang on The Florida Project directed by Sean Baker

“Director Sean Baker is known for his willingness to depict unglamorous lives on the silver screen, and The Florida Project stays the course by telling the story of transient, poor folk in a modern America teeming with excess.”

Guy Glass on The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

“This is not a conventional chronological autobiography but rather essays that provide different approaches to the author’s experience of mental illness.“

Celebrating 25 Years of the Literature, Arts and Medicine Database

In the following post, David Oshinsky, Marc Triola, Lucy Bruell and Felice Aull, the founder and Editor in Chief Emerita, take us through the early years of the site and its evolution.

Total Database Contents

  • 176 Visual Art Annotations
  • 2826 Literature Annotations
  • 274 Performing Art Annotations
  • 98 Artists
  • 1809 Authors
  • 156 Keywords