What we’re reading 12 March 2010

blogsIn the BMJ editorial office, we often come across interesting articles, blogs, and web pages. We thought we would share these with you. Some are medical, some techie, and some just general.

Sally Carter, technical editor:
I finished two books this week. They’re both short. The first one is Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/feb/26/bookerprize2005.bookerprize -a novel about an alternative 1990s Britain where human clones are produced for their organs. The book doesn’t try to deal with the science and technicalities of human cloning, but that’s probably good thing. I don’t think you could make the scenario believable. It centres on the friendships and loves of three clones as they grow up together and their realisation of their horrible and inevitable fate. It’s beautiful, sad, and cleverly written.

The other book is called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami http://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Talk-About-When-Running/dp/1846552206. It’s a reflection on how the author’s long distance running has influenced the rest of his life. I picked this book up because, although I don’t like running, I do find fascinating the effect that the hours and hours of doing it while training for various events has had on me. I identified with all Murakami wrote. I loved his descriptions of how well you get to know your body during these runs,” My silent heart expanded and contracted, over and over, at a fixed rate. Like the bellows of a worker, my lungs faithfully brought fresh oxygen into my body. I could sense all these organs working, and distinguish each and every sound they made.” And he’s spot on with how it feels when your body shuts down on you mid-run, “I felt like a piece of beef, being run, slowly, through a meat grinder. I had the will to go ahead, but now my whole body was rebelling. It felt like a car trying to go up a slope with the parking brake on.” Overall, I found reading the book a bit like doing a run—quite boring, but I got a great sense of satisfaction when I finished. One for runners only, I’d say.

Juliet Walker, assistant web editor, bmj.com:
On the Scholarly Kitchen blog, Philip Davis comments about a recent report that has been published about the open access citation advantage. He explains why the report troubles him and why a meta analysis is not a useful way of assessing the citation advantage.

Do calorie counts on menus actually work?

David Payne, editor bmj.com:
I’ve not had much time to read this week, but an exchange in The Times’ letters pages caught my eye about what doctors should call themselves.

John Millward argues that a care assistant who washes and feeds patients should be able to call themselves a nurse. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/letters/article7054348.ece

Dr John Millward goes further. Many nurse practitioners have PhDs so could style themselves doctor, he argues, and doctors should perhaps refer to themselves as physician or surgeon, depending on the kind of medicine they practice.

Now the President of the Royal College of Surgeons has joined the debate. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/letters/article7057048.ece

Incidentally, I started a discussion about this on the BMJ Group’s clinical community site, doc2doc.