The Woman with a Worm in Her Head: And Other True Stories of Infectious Disease
By Pamela Nagami M.D., F. Gonzalez-Crussi
It’s become obvious to me that the more I enjoy reading a book, the faster I write the review — hence my writing this review a few weeks after finishing the book.
The Woman with a Worm in Her Head: And Other True Stories of Infectious Disease was well-written and quite interesting, but it left me confused as to what I was reading. Was I reading a book about Dr Nagami or was I reading a book about her work with infectious diseases?
This was one of the few books I’ve purchased based on Amazon Recommendations and the fact that it was highly rated by customers like myself who read the book. In fact, the title, “The Woman with a Worm in Her Head: And Other True Stories of Infectious Disease” implied that this book would be about the diseases, Dr Nagami’s diagnosis and the outcomes. Instead, I was treated to at least quarter to a third of this book being about Dr Nagami herself.
Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind reading about the long and tortuous road a physician travelled to receive an M.D. degree, but I just wish the book didn’t sell itself as a book about disease but a book about a doctor and disease.
A minor quibble, but one that I hope other publishers will heed. There are a number of readers who are interested in the subject, be it objective narratives such as those from Berton Roueche or Jonathan A. Edlow, M.D. book, The Deadly Dinner Party: and Other Medical Detective Stories or this book, The Woman with a Worm in Her Head. Please tell us what we are in for – we’ll make up our own minds as to if we want to read it or not.
Anyway, to the book itself. I enjoyed it. It was an easy (albeit sometimes an emotional read because of what the patients went through especially the one who contracted an adult case of chickenpox before there was a vaccine (and while I’m at it, let me echo that of doctors: get your children and yourself, as necessary, vaccinated – if you don’t want to, read the chapter “A Case of Chickenpox”) and the horrible way he died.
I would have much preferred the book without the real-life interlude of her husband and children except for the times that it was integral to the story she was telling. Thankfully, it wasn’t all that much, but it was more than I felt necessary.
I rate this book a solid 3.5 stars (3 stars for those scales that don’t have ½ stars because there are books I’ve rated 4 stars that I liked more than this one). Well worth picking up as a bargain e-book but I don’t think deserves full price. Dr Nagami has written a second book. I’d love to read it but not at full price. I hope it goes on sale soon.
I read the e-book and I’m glad to say that publishers are taking their e-book seriously. I pleased to say that I didn’t find any problems with it unlike some books I’ve previously reviewed.
Next up, Drawing Blood: Technology and Disease Identity in Twentieth-Century America Keith Wailoo.
(Posted 15 February, 2015)
(Slight editing on 10 May 2015.)