The Medicine Cabinet of Curiosities:
an unconventional compendium of health facts and oddities, from asthmatic mice to plants that can kill
- Nicholas Bakalar
The title pretty much sums it up.
With segment lengths ranging from a couple of sentences to a couple of pages, this is the perfect book for people like me to read in bed, people who can generally only stay awake for a few paragraphs. Filled with fascinating little snippets from the world of medicine, The Medicine Cabinet of Curiosities is written in a fashion where you can easily skip around from section to section, finding those distinctly gruesome or disturbing bits that always ensure a good night's sleep.
A singularly nice touch is the relegation of footnotes to a dedicated appendix. I personally have an issue with MLA style footnotes. I find them disruptive and untidy and, unless they happen to be especially witty, quite unnecessary for me to read right away.
I particularly enjoyed the gruesome diseases segments, as well as those times when I was able to condescendingly sniff that of course I already knew that.
Nicholas Bakalar has a delightful sense of humour and I found myself chortling frequently, which is not generally what you expect to do when reading about maggot therapy, for example. He does have a curious habit of referring to himself with the royal we, but somehow this little quirk only serves to make his writing more inclusive. Like there is this cozy group of white coated professionals sequestered in a room somewhere, ready to assure you that no, you don't actually have Ebola.