May is here with the hint of warmer weather (even in Chicago!) and the hope of an outdoor escape, or perhaps even plans for summer vacation! If you’re like me, this likely includes settling down with a good book wherever you go, so here’s a continuation of last week’s suggestions — our summer reading list — that we recommend to get a better handle on investing and healthcare/medicine in general. For me, it was books that opened the door that allowed me to transition from molecular biology to the world of high finance…
In one of my job interviews for a position in the financial markets, the interviewer remarked “Hmmm…University of Chicago MBA; you went to the right school!” I prompted him to take a closer look, as I had a BA – not an MBA. He then noticed I had a BA not in Business but in Molecular Biology and was puzzled that I was quite conversant in matters regarding world financial markets. He wanted to know how I obtained the equivalent of an MBA without the formal training. I had to be honest and told him I was self-taught – I buried myself in the library and learned a new career by reading as much as I could.
Moreover, the financial markets, in my opinion, are the best teacher you can have. You can read about investing via annual reports, financial research, books and magazines. You can take classes and ask questions of brokers and financial advisors. But in all honesty, nothing cuts to the heart of business education like investing your hard earned capital in the markets.
The list that follows is part of the journey I took to gain the knowledge to invest and subsequently work in the financial markets. After 25 years studying the markets I am still learning. I encourage all of you to NEVER STOP LEARNING. Some of these books are legendary and on everyone’s must-read list. Others have nothing to do with investing, but will educate you on items like the Affordable Care Act or other intriguing topics in the healthcare / pharmaceutical field. We trust you find this a beneficial list of highly educational and interesting books. This week’s focus is health and medicine; another list provides titles on investing.
Health and Medicine:
The Emperor of All Maladies—A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
This Pulitzer Prize winning book is one of the best I have ever read. It chronicles the history of cancer from ancient times to the present. It’s loaded with stories – some sad, even tragic, and others that are heartwarming and miraculous. Mukherjee himself is a great writer and a physician. A three-part documentary aired on PBS (and the DVD is available on Amazon). This book is so good that In Sickness and Wealth will provide a free copy to all subscribers in 2016!
The Heart Healers—The Misfits, Mavericks, and Rebels Who Created the Greatest Medical Breakthroughs of Our Lives by James Forrester , M.D.
Along with The Emperor of All Maladies, Heart Healers is one of my favorites in medicine. In fact, Heart Healers did for Cardiovascular Surgery what The Emperor of all Maladies did for cancer. Terrific read filled with amazing stories.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Have the Kleenex ready. This is a tragic but uplifting story about a young Neurosurgeon who is about to finish a decade of training and begin his career when he is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
This is an incredible book about the inescapable realities of aging and death and how medicine awkwardly copes with growing old. Since we will all arrive at “old” sooner or later, I figured it might be a worthwhile read and it certainly is.
HER-2 The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer by Robert Bazell
The fascinating story of Genentech, Revlon and Dennis Slamon, and the development of Herceptin.
Billion Dollar Molecule—The Quest For the Perfect Drug by Barry Werth
The Antidote—Inside the World of Big Pharma also by Barry Werth
The Billion Dollar Molecule is a great inside look at the start up years of Vertex Pharmaceuticals and The Antidote is Werth’s follow up 20 years later. With access to Vertex’s top management and scientists, the reader gets a front row seat to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat that comes with developing a new drug.
The Biotech Primer by the Biotech Primer Inc.
This is a very good, basic-level book on the fascinating world of Biotechnology. If you are going to put any money in Biotech, this book would be a valuable place to get some schooling.
America’s Bitter Pill—Money Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Health Care System by Steven Brill
Another great read that discusses the saga of Obamacare and the story of our dysfunctional healthcare system in the United States, when you read this book, you will wonder how the law ever got passed. There are dozens of great stories of all the backroom deals and the successes and failures of those involved in getting the Affordable Care Act off the ground. My favorite part is when President Obama calls in the experts from Silicon Valley to fix the website that was an abysmal failure in its first few months.