The Wellcome Trust Book prize "celebrates the best of medicine in literature". It looks at releases that put an interesting spin on a medical topic, be it through fiction or through non-fiction. Now you may be put off by this prospect and suspect that the shortlist might be full of dusty, dry, science-heavy offerings, but happily this is not the case. After a long day at work in the hospital the last thing I want to do is curl up on the sofa with a glorified textbook! However, I do enjoy reading books where the author has managed to present a medical topic in an inventive way with a depth that goes beyond just science. I also love seeing how authors can make such topics accessible and fascinating to readers who have no medical background. I have recently read and loved last year's winner, Turn Of Mind, so when the 2012 shortlist was announced a couple of days ago I was very interested to see what the judges picked.
Our Lady Of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif
I would like to read this story of Alice Bhatti, a nurse who is not only an ex-convict but also a Christian woman in love with a Muslim man living in chaotic Afghanistan. It sounds like it's full of drama and covers some quite weighty issues.
The only one of the shortlist that is already sitting on my TBR pile, this is a thriller about the sinister world of eugenics, and one couple's experience when they attend an unorthodox clinic who claims to be able to help them have a baby without a hereditary disease.
I know Rose Tremain already has a loyal fanbase who loved the first installment of this series about Robert Merivel, king's physician in the 17th century. I'll probably give this one a miss, though, as I'm not a big fan of historical fiction and haven't read Restoration.
I have to admit to knowing little to nothing about economics, so this might be a good place to start learning. John Coates is an ex-trader turned neuroscientist and has written this account about the role that biology and hormones play in the financial market. We like to think that investment bankers work in a logical and systematic way, but ultimately they are at the mercy of adrenaline and testosterone and have the same stress reactions as the rest of us. I won't be rushing out to buy a copy of this but may well end up reading it at a later date.
A memoir of music journalist Nick Coleman's experiences of sudden onset deafness and tinnitus. This has had excellent reviews and is certainly one I'd like to pick up.
A biography of William Harvey, the 17th-century scientist who caused controversy and contradicted the firmly-held ideas of the time to come up with his theory of how blood circulates around the body. This is one that really interests me. One of my all-time favourite works of fiction is An Instance Of The Fingerpost by Iain Pears, and that book covers some similar themes.
So there you have it - what do you make of the shortlist? Are you tempted to try any of these? I will be reading Perfect People soon and also have a couple of titles from the longlist that I am disappointed didn't get through (Intrusion by Ken Macleod and The Evolution Of Inanimate Objects by Harry Karlinsky). The winner will be announced on 7th November 2012.