Happy 2019: books and other things

I would like to welcome all our learners, staff and faculty back after what I hope for everyone was a rejuvenating break. I wish all a very happy New Year.

For myself, it was a wonderful break with lots of time with family and friends—with special emphasis on my three-year-old grandson! It was all great fun but I particularly enjoyed the moment on Boxing Day when he took a stocking-shaped ornament off the tree and asked his mother to hang it up on the mantle in hopes of a repeat. Smart guy!

2018 was a good year for the CoM and you have heard me repeatedly highlight our accreditation success, student success on the MCC exams with our new curriculum, and our ASPIRE Award for Social Accountability. A particular highlight coming this spring will be a trip to Montreal for the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame dinner, where Dr. Jim Dosman, founder of the Canadian Center for Health and Safety in Agriculture, will be one of six inductees! This is a huge honour for Jim and testimony to the history of excellence at the CoM. I have been at several of these dinners and Jim is both highly deserving as an inductee and remarkable in how active he continues to be in his scholarly work. Congratulations, Jim!

One of my favorite parts of this past season is (through suggestion or downright begging) that I see a substantial addition to my pile of books. So at the risk of appearing “Obama-esque,” I will share some of the highlights. My haul included Tasting Italy: A Culinary Journey (a cookbook and travelogue from National Geographic), Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin (American presidential scholar; it seemed apropos for both the times and this job), Dam Busters: Canadian Airmen and the Secret Raid Against Nazi Germany by Ted Barris (I like WW2 history) and two books by Tanya Talaga, a prize-winning Canadian Indigenous author and longtime journalist with the Toronto Star. Her second book is All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward, which is from her CBC Massey Lectures. Over the holidays I read her first book, Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City and found it heart-breaking and infuriating, yet I saw it pointing to the title of the second book which I will start this weekend! As one critic said, “She offers painful lessons while courting hope.”

I absolutely can recommend Leadership in Turbulent Times because Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of my favorite biographers (she also wrote Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln). More importantly, I highly recommend Seven Fallen Feathers. Another critic (Ottawa Review of Books) said, “Once started, this book is difficult to put down. At just over 300 pages, Seven Fallen Feathers moves from one compelling story to the next, and seamlessly weaves in facts and history. The writing is crisp and thoughtful. Seven Fallen Feathers… fosters understanding, and is a book that can benefit everyone.”

So, the first goal of this blog is to welcome everyone back and wish you a great 2019. A secondary goal of sharing my reading list is that you may pass on your reviews of recent great reads. (That pile of books of mine always also includes some historical fiction and a Swedish crime novel or two!) Sometimes a book is just permission to check out, which we all need from time to time.

As always, I look forward to your feedback (or book suggestions!).


2 thoughts on “Happy 2019: books and other things

  1. Hi Dr. Smith,

    Sounds like you had a great holiday season. Recent books that I have enjoyed reading include:

    “The Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee (a well written and engaging book on the history of genetics)

    “Malgudi Days” by RK Narayan (a fantastic collection of short stories set in India and written by a master of irony)

    “Hallucinations” by Oliver Sacks (a fascinating book written by my favourite physician-author. Oliver Sacks discusses hallucinations in the context of illness and describes hallucinations that many healthy people may experience)

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