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This book club probably looks a bit more formal than yours, but there's a good reason. The club at Mercy Medical Center helps staffers improve the way they interact with patients and with each other. Instead of focusing on plot or character development, they discuss cultural, emotional or spiritual issues, says member Dan Collins. director of media relations.  Discussions are led by Karen Arnold.
 

What they've liked: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman, Final Exam by Pauline W. Chen, The Scalpel and the Silver Bear by Lori Atwood and Elizabeth Cohen Van Pelt, and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

More than 100 U.S. hospitals have similar book clubs; many were sparked by a Maine Humanities Council initiative. The Maryland Humanities Council also works with hospitals to create book clubs. Here's a longer list of recommended readings from Mercy's club.

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Drama: Wit by Margaret Edson; Medical Reader's Theater: A Guide and Scripts, edited by T.L. Savitt

Fiction: "A Nurse's Story" from A Nurse's Story and Others by Peter Baida; Cathedral by Raymond Carver; He's at the Office by Allan Gurganus; You Are Not A Stranger Here by Adam Haslett; The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri; The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka; The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien; Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen; The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy,

Nonfiction: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby; Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande; Nurses at the Front: Writing the Wounds of the Great War by Margaret R. Higonnet; Tuskegee's Truths: Rethinking the Tuskegee Syphilis Study (Studies in Social Medicine) edited by Susan Reverby; Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams

Poetry: Without by Donald Hall; Rehab at the Florida Avenue Grill, poems by Veneta Masson

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