Date: 13 Nov 2012

Victoria Sweet’s Gods Hotel: A Doctor, A Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine

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Suppose I got to talking to someone on public transit, and when I mentioned that I worked in medical humanities, my companion said: “Can you recommend a book, just one book that will tell me what it’s really like to practice medicine? I want to learn about the history of the profession, but I also want to understand how any doctor’s work takes place in a system of health care—I want to hear about the administrative bureaucracy and the municipal politics. I also want the story of a hospital: what holds these places together; what do they facilitate and what do they obstruct? And I believe care should have a spiritual basis, so the book has to have this side, too. I want a book that’s filled with great stories but also pays attention to facts. It has to be sad and funny and completely engaging to read. And of course it has to help me become healthier myself. So, what’s that book?” Then I’d look calmly at this person and say, “No problem. Read Gods Hotel. You’ve just described it exactly