Books recommended by a student for the student

A few weeks before I trekked out to California for my last and current internship, I was grabbing drinks with a group of friends in NYC. It’s always fun catching up with friends in between breaks especially since it becomes tougher to get every together as you become an adult(trying out here).

A lot of my buddies are either in physical therapy school or enrolling so it was natural for our conversations to slowly revolve around the field we are pursuing. We eventually started talking about how in the world I was able to find time to read while I was doing my didactic work.

The truth is, I made it a priority and it becomes easier when you develop the habit. I would dedicate anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours a day on reading ANYTHING that I could get my hands on whether it was books, research articles, blogs, etc.

You don’t have to read fast, you can read at your own pace. No one is handing out awards to people for being well-read, you do this for yourself. The most important thing is that you’re reading. If you’re only getting through one book a month, that’s 12 books in a year which equates 120 books in 10 years. Even if we cut that number in half, 60 books in 10 years is a substantial amount.

The bottom line is we need to find time for the important things in life such as relationships, exercise, reading, and sleeping. These are non-negotiables when it comes to physical and mental health. We can’t afford to NOT do these things and if they are important to you then you’ll find the time.

Anyways, my friend Danny is starting his program this year in North Carolina and told me I should make a reading list because he would love some recommendations. At this very moment, I am procrastinating on going to the gym for my SBD day. I figured I would buy myself some time to make a list since I have been meaning to blog more often so here we go:

1.) How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

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“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”

This is probably one of the most recommend personal development books and although it may seem like common sense…a lot of people need to understand that it’s more important to be interested than interesting. The book has been around for ages and for good reason. It’ll either reinforce some of your habits and thoughts on communication or give you actionable steps on how to develop your skills. Whether we’re helping a patient or networking with other people, the principles in this book are timeless.

2.) Start With Why by Simon Sinek

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“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

To piggyback on the theme of communication with the first book, this is definitely a solid segway. Simon Sinek has developed a concept to help you clarify the message called the “Golden Circle”. It’s a very easy to read book and my only caveat is that I wish he used more examples aside from Apple but we can’t blame the man, Apple does such a great job at communicating this principle. The world we live in now, people can easily be detracted due to the surplus of information all around us. If we want to effectively communicate to patients then it is important to communicate WHY.

3.) Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

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“It is disquieting to learn that vehicular accidents caused by drowsy driving exceed those caused by alcohol and drugs combined.”

Don’t sleep on sleep. Sleep plays a huge role in overall health and this book is PACKED with research on the benefits of sleep as well as the detriments of lacking it. It’s super easy to digest and meant for the lay person. Matthew Walker is a leading expert in this field and if you want a snippet of some of the content then I would highly recommend his episode on the Joe Rogan Experience(JRE) podcast. Also, day drinking is better for your sleep hygiene!

4.) The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

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“The brain is a far more open system than we ever imagined, and nature has gone very far to help us perceive and take in the world around us. It has given us a brain that survives in a changing world by changing itself.”

Neuroplasticity is a concept we are introduced to in school and we learn Hebb’s theory “neurons that fire together, wire together” which is great but this book is filled awesome clinical examples of neuroplasticity in action. One of my favorite things about the book is that each chapter is a different case. It relates neuroplasticity to other things rather than  rehab for patients that sustained a TBI, CVA, etc that we are often taught. Most lit chapter? Chronic pain but maybe I’m a bit biased haha.

5.) When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

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“Science may provide the most useful way to organize empirical, reproducible data, but its power to do so is predicated on its inability to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, envy, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue.”

Dr. Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon resident at Stanford University. He was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer during his last year of residency. This book is an autobiography on his life, experience with facing death, medicine, and so much more. I have never cried when reading a book or watching any sort of television but this book got me. The way it was written, his reflections…everything is extremely raw and authentic. There is so much perspective to be gained from this book as future clinician and more importantly as a human being. It’s a book that I will be reading every year.

Well, that’s it. There are a lot of other books that I could recommend but I thoroughly enjoyed these five a lot. I hope you guys find some value in these books and if it something you’d like to see then I can compile another list haha.

Thanks for reading and remember to…


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