By Grant Jacobs 09/02/2018

I know many of my readers are, well, readers. (Ha!)

I like book prize longlists, as they give you a selection to browse, all of which will be great efforts. (I’d also encourage browsing around the booksellers’ and publishers’ websites, and bookstores: there are excellent books not on any prize shortlist.*)

The Wellcome Trust, one of largest medical research charities in the world,** funds an annual award for books, fiction or non-fiction, that “have a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness.” The books “can cover many genres of writing – including crime, romance, popular science, sci fi and history.”

To find the blurb for each book on the longlist on their website, you have to visit each page in turn. To help my readers a little, I’ve listed the books with the short topic and genre tags for each book. Links are to the page for each book on the Wellcome Prize website. Have fun choosing!***

Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ — Sickle-Cell Disease, Nigeria. Fiction

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s quest to transform the grisly world of Victorian medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris — Surgical Medical History, Victorian History. Non-Fiction. (Reviewed at Sciblogs by Alison Campbell last year.)

In Pursuit of Memory: The fight against Alzheimer’s by Joseph Jebelli — Disease and Disorders, Medical Memoir. Non-Fiction

Plot 29: A memoir by Allan Jenkins — Gardening, Autobiography, Family History. Non-Fiction

The White Book by Han Kang translated by Deborah Smith — Living, Grief, Death. Fiction

With the End in Mind: Dying, death and wisdom in an age of denial by Kathryn Mannix — Palliative Medicine, End of Life, Memoir. Non-Fiction

Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty — General Fiction, Literary Fiction. Fiction

To Be a Machine: Adventures among cyborgs, utopians, hackers, and the futurists solving the modest problem of death by Mark O’Connell — Transhumanism, Medical Ethics. Non-Fiction

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen brushes with death by Maggie O’Farrell — Memoir, Survival, Motherhood. Non-Fiction

Mayhem: A memoir by Sigrid Rausing — Addiction, Family, Memoir. Non-Fiction

Behave: The biology of humans at our best and worst by Robert Sapolsky — Human Behaviour, Evolutionary Science/Psychology. Non-Fiction

The Vaccine Race: How scientists used human cells to combat killer viruses by Meredith Wadman — Medical Ethics, Immunology, Popular Science. Non-Fiction

I like that the prize covers a range of genres. There’s a good argument that one of main ways that many adults learn science is via entertainment.


With any luck I should get a review of Jennifer Doudna and Samuel Sternberg’s A Crack in Creation to you soon. More to read!

* University publisher sites offer all sorts of niche topics, for example.

** Wikipedia has it second only to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in endowments in non-profit charity foundations.

*** Me? My choices go into a booklist I keep. Yes, I know. Very nerdy. It’s partly as I already have too many books to read, and partly as I have a limited budget for new ones…! Anyway, I’d lean towards Wadman’s The Vaccine Race for targeting a less talked-about aspect needed for the development of vaccines. Also, To Be A Machine, The Butchering ArtBehave, and perhaps Stay With Me.

Other articles at Code for life

About the featured image

The long listed book for this year’s Wellcome Book Prize. Obtained from the prize website.

0 Responses to “More Wellcome reading”

  • The short list is now out, see

    The short-listed books are:

    Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (Nigeria)

    The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris (USA)

    With the End in Mind by Kathryn Mannix (UK)

    To Be a Machine by Mark O’Connell (Ireland)

    Mayhem: A memoir by Sigrid Rausing (UK/Sweden)

    The Vaccine Race by Meredith Wadman