An on-the-whole positive aspect of the writing life is that many of your friends are writers. Thus in circumstances like this I need to say: I’m recommending books by people I know, so bear that in mind. But in all cases these are books that I think deserve attention. Here goes:
1) The Digital Doctor, by Robert Wachter
The author is a medical doctor in the SF Bay Area who has written a popular blog known as The Hospitalist or Wachter’s World. I came to know him because his wife, the writer Katie Hafner, is a long-time friend with whom I once taught a class at the UC Berkeley Journalism School. One of “Dr. Bob’s” specialities on his site is explaining medical issues clearly to a lay readership, without ever talking down. He does that very effectively in this book, describing what is better, worse, different, and still unknowable about the ongoing computerization of medical practice. I feel as if I’ve had at least peripheral awareness of these issues for a very long time, starting from the days when my own doctor-father was pioneering the use of computers in his practice. But I learned a lot from this book and think most readers will too.
Also: my wife and I first got to know Katie Hafner and her family when she was married to a UC Berkeley official named Matt Lyon. Then in 2002, the fitness-conscious and very athletic Matt Lyon died suddenly, shockingly, at age 45 while using a treadmill in a hotel gym. After the sudden, shocking death of the 47-year-old David Goldberg, Sheryl Sandberg’s husband, Katie Hafner wrote a poignant open letter to Sandberg on dealing with this kind of grief. (“You will get through it. But you never will get past it.”) She says that she wrote the letter at the urging of her now-husband Bob Wachter. I am glad that he suggested it, and that she wrote it. I think you will see why if you read it.
2) Terrorism in Cyberspace, by Gabriel Weimann