A Book I love

Posted on November 23, 2013


This is an easy one, and it’s a tough one. Some iconic books in my life have been “Tuesdays With Morrie” by Mitch Albom, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “Veronika Decides To Die” by Paulo Coelho, “The Glass Palace” by Amitav Ghosh, “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, etc. Even as I make this list, I realize it’s stupid to try. There’s simply too many. But there’s two authors that led to me becoming a voracious reader. Sidney Sheldon and Erich Segal.

“Nothing Lasts Forever” by Sidney Sheldon and “Doctors” by Erich Segal are two books I have read repeatedly. And among these two, I am going to say “Doctors” is the most influential book I read growing up. Yes, I cried at several points when I read “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, but I don’t think I would have gotten there if I hadn’t read “Doctors”. I know it’s probably not going to get me any respect among my readers to say that the book I am choosing to write about is of the popular fiction genre. But I was 12 years old when I first read it. And I read it at least twenty times in those years!

What drew me to the book was the setting of Harvard Medical School in 1962. It talked about getting admission at the med school, the pressure, the competition, the sexism, the residency years, the despair, the choosing of a specialty, the personal tragedies, the rising from the ashes and most importantly the relationships. I loved how the book took into consideration events that were happening during that time and wove them into the story, for .e.g the Vietnam War.

The protagonists Barney Livingston and Laura Castellano were real people to me. They knew each other since childhood. They were best friends. They remained friends through the series of relationships they had. And it was in their 40s that they finally decided to get together! Laura has her baby at 40. I think people find it predictable that they get together. To me, it was inevitable. This means I knew they would get together, but it was their journey in getting there that was mesmerizing. She was beautiful and she was intelligent and brilliant! I guess it was this character that sowed the love of strong female characters in me. Barney was this really loyal guy. And he chose psychiatry as his specialty! I learned about transference and counter-transference through this book long before it came up in psychology courses years later. I was introduced to euthanasia  through this book, and the struggles of a person who may think they know what’s best for the person and the family involved. It was also the first time I realized that discrimination against Jews was prevalent long after world war II ended!

Some people say that it is like a soap opera. To me soap operas are nothing but a hyperbolic representation of life, and “Doctors” to me is just that. I wanted a best friend like Barney, and I wanted us to fall in love and be happy forever after. I guess I developed a very healthy sense of romantic love through this book – two people need to be friends for them to be in a successful relationship.

What I’ve realized in my twenty five odd years of reading books is, the genre of the book is not important, its acceptability status is inconsequential; it’s how the book meets you in your journey as a reader that matters! And “Doctors” met me when I was a clueless tween and transformed me into a fantasy world of doctors, where women broke barriers and love was patient and undemanding! So sue me.

Posted in: childhood