Narrative Medicine Book Club

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We are pleased to announce that the Book Club is coming back! Please join us for the next virtual Narrative Medicine book club journey starting April 5th 2021! Join us as we read together with weekly updates to our social media, our email list, and to our blog!

We invite you to join the discussion on any channel either by responding to those posts or by using #NMBookClub on your social media. In addition, we will hold two live virtual discussions on Zoom, see below for registration!

This spring we will be reading the 120 page novel Passing by Nella Larsen, first published in 1929, an “influential, if woefully under-read American classic” according to Parul Sehgal of the NYTimes. For more on the book please see herehere, and here. Also, unbeknownst to us, it seems the NY Times Magazine just chose this book for their March “T book club” pick, so you can also read more here and watch their conversation about it (maybe better after you’ve read the book!) here!.

We’ll be reading at a pace of two chapters a week, as follows:

  • Week 1 – April 11-17: Part 1 Chapters 1&2
  • Zoom Discussion: April 17th at 11AM EDT: Register Here!
  • Week 2 – April 18-24: Part 1 Chapters 3&4
  • Week 3 – April 25-May 1: Part 2 Chapters 1&2
  • Week 4 – May 2-9: Part 2 Chapters, 3&4
  • Week 5 – May 10-15: Finale
  • Zoom Discussion: May 15th at 11AM EDT: Register Here!

For this round of the book club, we will be led by Derek McCracken and Carmen Price, two graduates of our MS program and the current faculty sponsors of our Social Justice in Narrative Medicine affinity group.

If you have not already, please get your copy ready and join us! If purchasing, please go through your local independent bookstore (you can find yours at or through

Looking forward to reading with you! 

**Book Club Zoom Discussions for the Passing**:

See the latest Book Club posts below:

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Passing, Conclusion and Thanks!

Carmen: “It was the smile that maddened Irene” – Did it make her mad or did it drive her to madness – All along we’ve seen Irene disquieted by Clare and her cavalier ways, always getting under Irene’s skin, making her mad, making her nervous, making her afraid for a moment just like this one. We’ve seen … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Passing, Following up on Week 4

Derek: This description of Clare makes me appreciate even more her power of presence and sense of agency. Even though passing for white was her survival tactic, it hinges on her social capital as well. The paradox of her being among them yet “someone apart” captures her duality perfectly.   Carmen: This passage captured me as … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Passing, Week 3

Derek: A quandry, a dilemma, a Catch-22 — Irene seems to be caught in a swirl where standing up for her race could lead to the downfall of Clare and their mysterious bond. Carmen: And yet she does protect Clare – She demonstrates a fierce loyalty to a principle to protect or ‘side’ with one’s … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Passing, Following up on Week 2

Carmen: I was moved/disturbed by the pathologizing of blackness in Chapter 3 as Clare, Irene, and Gertrude talked about pregnancy – “It’s awful the way it skips a generation and then pops out…nobody wants a black child.” A little later on in the chapter “Clare began to talk, steering carefully away from anything that might lead … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Passing, Week 1

Derek: Irene seems sure of herself, but what does “through with” mean, really? So many chapters to go, and already we feel a burden of knowledge and experience that Irene carries, one that she seems unwilling to share with her father.  Carmen: So far the vacillating curiosity and disdain that Irene has for Clare doesn’t … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 19

Week 19: Whew, what an ending! A bloody duel between Settembrini and Naphta, followed by the onset of World War I and the quick disassembly of the community we have been in for the duration. Then, in the final pages, a tour-de-force last scene depicting Castorp, our “simple fellow,” just one of thousands running through … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 18

Week 18: What a fascinating sequence in our next-to-last week! In this week’s chapter, “Highly Questionable,” we witness a séance, with the medium of a young Berghof patient named Ellen Brand. Her “spirit,” a “deceased, ethereal creature” named Holger who “speaks” through her, conjures for Castorp and a small group of others, after nearly two … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 17

Week 17: The conclusion of the Peeperkorn story surprised me quite a bit. And Chauchat’s departure doesn’t even get its own paragraph?! In the wake of these losses Castorp descends into a full solitude, a “stupor,” where meaning and engagement is harder to find. Yet we end these pages with the introduction of a gramophone to … Read More

narrative medicine book club: Magic Mountain, Week 16

Week 16: In the conclusion of this week’s pages we see Castorp seal a new bond with Peeperkorn, a kind of brotherhood forged in the mutual love for Chauchat. In the scene prior, of course, we see Castorp forge a similar bond with Chauchat, agreeing to “a friendship…for [Peeperkorn’s] sake,” and then sealing it with a … Read More


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