Lovers of literature are converging on the Vancouver Writers Fest, which continues until Sunday (October 21), but this year there has also been a bounty of medical books by Canadian authors.
They include Dissident Doctor: Catching Babies and Challenging the Medical Status Quo by UBC professor emeritus of family practice Michael Klein. In his heartfelt new book, he describes his experiences practising medicine in the United States, Canada, and Ethiopia, as well as his long-standing efforts to inject more humanity into maternity care through the use of midwives.
Klein also reveals the impact of the Red Scare on his parents as he was growing up in the United States, and his opposition to the Vietnam War.
More than just a book on medicine, it’s a terrific family story as Klein delves into his filmmaker wife Bonnie’s devastating stroke in 1987 and her remarkable turnaround—to the point where she was able to direct another documentary. Great credit goes to the Canadian health-care system. Readers also learn how this health crisis affected their two children, Vancouver public-policy researcher Seth Klein and author Naomi Klein.
This experience gave Michael Klein a greater appreciation for Canada's single-payer national health insurance plan. He's been one of the country's most vehement defenders of medicare even as it has been undercut by surgeons and medical associations who've been promoting a two-tier system.
Another title worth recommending is Andrew MacLeod’s All Together Healthy: A Canadian Wellness Revolution, released earlier this year. Building on his impressive 2015 examination of poverty in B.C., A Better Place on Earth, MacLeod’s newer book explores the relationship between public health and factors outside of the acute-care system—such as income, education, housing, and the environment—that affect life expectancy and overall well-being.
“We have long known that health inequities are a symptom of social inequities,” MacLeod writes, “and that at each step up the social hierarchy, people are healthier. That inequity is at the root of our most visible health crises today, including the opioid-overdose emergency and the relative poor health of the country’s original inhabitants.”
A third book worth checking out is Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey, by Ontario academics Samantha Brennan and Tracy Isaacs. It grew out of their blog, Fit Is a Feminist Issue, and the book is full of anecdotes, research, and helpful advice for people to remain healthy into their 50s.
As these two professors approached their 48th birthdays, they each set a goal of becoming the fittest they had ever been by the time they turned 50. What follows is a rollicking read as they describe how they went about achieving this.
“Truth be told, I am stronger, faster, fitter, more energetic, and—most importantly—happier than I used to be,” Isaacs writes near the end. “I’m excited about mid-life.”