Blog

Wellcome Book Prize 2016: Winners' and Judges' favourite non-fiction

Wellcome Book Prize 2016: Winners' and Judges' favourite non-fiction

Previous winners of The Wellcome Prize, along with this year's judges, have chosen their favourite non-fiction that deals with medicine, health or illness. The shortlist for the Wellcome Book Prize 2016 will be announced in a week's time.

Posted on 16th March 2016 by Sally Campbell

The Wellcome Book Prize celebrates the best new books that engage with an aspect of medicine, health or illness, showcasing the breadth and depth of our encounters with medicine through exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction.

The shortlist for the Wellcome Book Prize 2016 was revealed on Monday (14 March) this year, and the winner will be announced at a special ceremony on Monday 25 April.

In the meantime, this year's judges and some previous winners share their selection of the most exceptional non-fiction books that fall under the Wellcome Prize's remit.


Damian Barr, judge of the Wellcome Book Prize 2016

Somewhere Towards The End by Diana Athill which tells the truth about aging and dying in a clear-eyed non-sentimental but entirely life-enhancing way.

Dry by Augusten Burroughs is a memoir about his alcoholism which manages ot be both painful and painfully funny by virtue of his unflinching candour.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion took me into a twilit world of grief and loss I hope never to experience myself.

 


Frances Balkwill, judge of the Wellcome Book Prize 2016

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks  – engrossing, original, important and moving story that combines science, ethics and social history.

Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon - Each chapter is a book in itself – a ‘once in a decade’ book.

The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox – another side of the Double Helix story and also fascinating insight into the life of a female scientist in the 1950s.



Joan Bakewell, chair of judges of the Wellcome Book Prize 2016

Awakenings by Oliver Sacks

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

 


Sathnam Sanghera, judge of the Wellcome Book Prize 2016

Surviving Schizophrenia by E Fuller Torrey – a humane and authoritative guide to a debilitating illness that has hit my family

Patient: The True Story of a Rare Illness – Ben Watt. A deeply moving account of acute illness.

Awakenings, Oliver Sacks. One of the best books of all time.

 


Tessa Hadley, judge of the Wellcome Book Prize 2016

The Memory Chalet  by  Tony Judt This brilliant historian was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and though it paralysed his body and brought his early death, it made him hungry to communicate his insights into history and politics in our time, to say the huge things which were most urgent.

The Good Story by J.M. Coetzee and Arabella Kurtz  - Novelist and psychoanalyst exchange thoughts on stories and truth and well-being.

Until Further Notice, I Am Alive by Tom Lubbock - Moving companion piece to Marion Coutt’s Wellcome Prize-winning memoir of her husband Tom Lubbock’s illness and death. Tom Lubbock was an art critic, luminously intelligent about paintings and about everything.

 

Thomas Wright, winner of the Wellcome Book Prize 2013 for Circulation

Religio Medici (The Religion of a Doctor) by Sir Thomas Browne - In this eccentric essay the bookish physician meditates on the relationship between 'science' and religion in his virtuoso English Baroque prose style.

The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity by Roy Porter: (1997) - Exhaustive but never exhausting, detailed but never dense, scholarly but never specialist, this is a textbook that can also be read as a compelling story and as living, relevant history.

The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton - Ostensibly a medical treatise this vast tome is in fact an encyclopaedic and kaleidoscopic discussion of everything under the sun, conducted in Burton’s bewitching serious-facetious style.  



Andrea Gillies, winner of the Wellcome Book Prize 2009 for Keeper

Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag – because of the beautiful writing, the thoughtfulness, and the uncluttered way she shows us that cancer is just a malady, a body gone-wrong thing that can be put right (AIDS As Metaphor extends this argument; it isn’t a judgement or a metaphor at all; it’s just a disease).

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – which won the Wellcome Book Prize 2010, is one of the most affecting and impassioned books I’ve read about the human origins and human cost of medical breakthrough, as well as offering a piercing insight into poverty and racism

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain – because when I was a teenage reader the section describing the visceral shock of going from the safe middle class world of a 21 year old at Oxford to being a nursing volunteer (here and also on the Western Front) made a huge impact on me.

Related books

The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy (Hardback)

The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy (Hardback)

J. M. Coetzee, J. M. Coetzee, Arabella Kurtz

Working alone, the writer is in sole charge of the story he or she tells. The therapist, on the other hand, collaborates with the patient in telling the story of their life. What kind of truth do the stories created by patient and therapist aim to uncover?

£16.99
Awakenings (Paperback)

Awakenings (Paperback)

Oliver Sacks

The bestselling author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Musicophilia.

£9.99 £7.49
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Paperback)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Paperback)

Rebecca Skloot




12 Reviews

The internationally bestselling story of a young woman whose death in 1951 changed medical science for ever ...

£8.99
Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual (Paperback)

Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual (Paperback)

E. Fuller Torrey, E. Fuller Torrey, M.D.

Describes the nature, causes, symptoms, treatment and course of schizophrenia and also explores living with it from both the patient and the family's point of view. This book includes the advanced research findings on what causes the disease as well as information about the fresh drugs for treatment.

£10.99
Testament of Youth: An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1900-1925 - VMC 2155 (Paperback)

Testament of Youth: An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1900-1925 - VMC 2155 (Paperback)

Vera Brittain

A film tie-in edition of Vera Brittain's classic autobiography, published to coincide with the major motion picture adaptation starring Dominic West, Emily Watson, Colin Morgan and Kit Harington.

£9.99
Patient: The True Story of a Rare Illness (Paperback)

Patient: The True Story of a Rare Illness (Paperback)

Ben Watt




3 Reviews

In 1992, Ben Watt, a member of the band Everything but the Girl, contracted a rare life-threatening illness that baffled doctors and required months of hospital treatment and operations. This is the story of his fight for survival and the effect it had on him and those nearest him.

£8.99
The Anatomy of Melancholy (Paperback)

The Anatomy of Melancholy (Paperback)

Robert Burton, William H. Gass

One of the major documents of modern European civilization, Robert Burton's astounding compendium, a survey of melancholy in all its myriad forms, has invited nothing but superlatives since its publication in the seventeenth century.

£20.00
Religio Medici and Urne-Buriall (Paperback)

Religio Medici and Urne-Buriall (Paperback)

Sir Thomas Browne, Stephen Greenblatt, Ramie Targoff

A new edition of Browne's two most enduring and beloved works, Religio Medici and Urne-Buriall.

£7.99
The Year of Magical Thinking (Paperback)

The Year of Magical Thinking (Paperback)

Joan Didion




1 Review

From one of America's iconic writers, a portrait of a marriage and a life - in good times and bad - that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child. A stunning book of electric honesty and passion.

£8.99
Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery (Paperback)

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery (Paperback)

Henry Marsh




7 Reviews

An astonishingly candid insight into the life and work of a modern neurosurgeon - its triumphs and disasters. A SUNDAY TIMES bestseller, and shortlisted for the GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD and the COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD, as well as longlisted for the SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION.

£8.99 £6.99
Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA (Paperback)

Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA (Paperback)

Brenda Maddox




1 Review

The untold story of the woman who helped to make one of humanity's greatest discoveries - DNA - but who was never given credit for doing so.

£9.99
Until Further Notice, I am Alive (Paperback)

Until Further Notice, I am Alive (Paperback)

Tom Lubbock

A unique reckoning with the human condition, written in beautiful, honest, unsentimental and aphoristic prose

£9.99
Somewhere Towards the End (Paperback)

Somewhere Towards the End (Paperback)

Diana Athill

Diana Athill made her reputation as a writer with the candour of her memoirs and freed from any inhibitions that even she may once have had, she reflects frankly on the losses and occasionally the gains that old age brings, and on the wisdom and fortitude required to face death.

£8.99
Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors: AND AIDS and Its Metaphors - Penguin Modern Classics (Paperback)

Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors: AND AIDS and Its Metaphors - Penguin Modern Classics (Paperback)

Susan Sontag

Reveals that the metaphors and myths surrounding certain illnesses, especially cancer, add greatly to the suffering of the patients and often inhibit them from seeking proper treatment. By demystifying the fantasies surrounding cancer, this study shows cancer for what it is.

£14.00 £10.49
The Memory Chalet (Paperback)

The Memory Chalet (Paperback)

Tony Judt

Features the essays that chart some of the author's experiences or remembrances: his youthful love of a particular London bus route that evolves into a reflection on public civility and interwar urban planning; and memories of the 1968 student riots of Paris that meander through the divergent sex politics of Europe.

£9.99
Dry (Paperback)

Dry (Paperback)

Augusten Burroughs

The bestselling second-instalment in the memoirs of the outrageously fuinny, scorchingly honest Augusten Burroughs. Re-packaged in paperback.

£9.99
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity (Paperback)

Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity (Paperback)

Andrew Solomon

Drawing on interviews with over three hundred families, covering subjects including deafness, dwarfs, Down's Syndrome, Autism, Schizophrenia, disability, prodigies, children born of rape, children convicted of crime and transgender people, this book documents ordinary people making courageous choices.

£14.99
The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity (Paperback)

The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity (Paperback)

Roy Porter

A definitive study of the history of medicine, from the earliest humans to the present day.

£25.00 £20.00