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Letters to a Young Doctor

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  218 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Highly candid, insightful, and unexpectedly humorous essays on both the brutality and the beauty of the profession in which saving and losing lives is all in a day’s work. A timeless collection by the “best of the writing surgeons” (Chicago Tribune). With a Preface written by the Author especially for this edition.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 15th 1996 by Mariner Books (first published August 25th 1982)
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Elizabeth Freeman
Dec 23, 2011 Elizabeth Freeman rated it liked it
I thought this collection of letters was OK, but it fell short of the expextations I placed on it. It started out great and I enjoyed some of the letters to a young surgeon, but he started to lose me in the letter where he decided surgery was a dying art and that those of us going into surgery now will likely not have careers in a few years (I did take this with a grain of salt seeing as how the book was written 20 years ago and operating rooms are as full as ever). The downhill continued with t ...more
Nov 23, 2007 Mina rated it it was amazing
The style gets cloying, but this collection of lyrical essays by a surgeon at Yale remains one of the undeniable influences in my decision to go into a surgical career.
Oct 01, 2007 Bin rated it liked it
This book takes shape as a series of letters to a young doctor from a surgeon who is acting as his mentor. The author is a strong writer, but at times the quality of the writing interferes with the storytelling.

In its best moments, Letters to a Young Doctor resonates with tradition and reverence. It reminds the reader that medicine is an elegant profession which is passed on in a linear fashion from teacher to student. Only doctors can make doctors.

In its lesser chapters, this book is just stuff
Aug 09, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
If I ever need surgery, I want someone like Richard Seltzer to be my surgeon. His essays reflect a real concern for patients as human beings, and an impulse toward kindness over judgments about a person's looks or class. These are also wonderfully written, witty and allusive essays, reflections really.
Feb 05, 2016 Cathy rated it liked it
Read this book many years ago and thought the author had some profound insights into the human experience. Someone in the health profession could probably relate to all the medical descriptions - not sure I would recommend for general reading.
Aug 07, 2014 Joyce rated it liked it
I really hate giving this 3 stars as it is quite eloquently written, but I just got lost in so much of the symbolism and metaphors. I started out loving it and then I got bogged down in the complicated descriptions and it seemed to veer off course from what I really wanted to read about. I found myself just pouring through the words and not really absorbing the content. The author really presents an interesting side of being a Dr. and I did enjoy some the the insight into the personalities of di ...more
Jun 02, 2014 marked it as to-read
its good
Mar 26, 2007 Jamie rated it did not like it
i thought that this book would be great because it's modelled after rilke's letters to a young poet, and while it had some cute sound byteish paragraphs about practicing medicine in it, they were few and far between, puntuacting a bunch of mindless drivel that pretty much made me want to chew my own arm off
sarah  corbett morgan
Jan 07, 2008 sarah corbett morgan rated it it was amazing
Selzer will be on my "to re-read" list forever, I think. A master of the understated metaphor and observer of life and its complexities, Selzer's advice to a young doctor could be advice to any of us in life. A wonderful book and one I will keep in my library of favorites.
Oct 13, 2008 Gary rated it it was amazing
Hey, I decided to buy (another) copy and read it again. Why? There was a first edition copy of Ernie Pyle's World War II columns in the shop (Half Price Books of the Ozarks), but it was $500.
Michael Wolf
Mar 21, 2010 Michael Wolf rated it liked it
Gave this book as a present to the doctor that did corrective surgery on my ears; it proves a testament to doctors everywhere who are willing to accept and even revel in the world that is surgery in all its art and expense.
Apr 21, 2013 Patricia marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction
Reading this as part of my research for a non-fiction book project I'm working on. Selzer's use of language is my favorite part so far. He relishes metaphor and strong verbs. The frank tone of the book works for me too.
Oct 21, 2012 Deborah rated it it was amazing
A collection of personal essays by an experienced surgeon. It's absolutely one of my favorite books of all time. Everlasting thanks to Dr. Bob Frye for introducing me to Richard Selzer.
This occasionally veers off course and gets a little weird (a few times really weird), but the good parts are so good and worthwhile that 4 stars was never really in question.
Jun 28, 2008 Kate rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kate by: dr palmer
read this my first year of college and often think of the lessons still. very 'zen & the art...' in merging art of science ance and medicine with writing.
Sep 20, 2010 Kara rated it really liked it
I read this book in college and still remember it. Loved it b/c I care about healthcare and the human spirit. Great read.
Jul 15, 2011 Rob rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
An absolute classic, both for lovers of good literature and those in the medical field.
Jun 13, 2008 Mireya rated it really liked it
Helped me realize the importance of my route and first year of medical school.
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“You cannot separate passion from pathology any more than you can separate a person's spirit from his body.” 11 likes
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