Narrative Medicine Book Club

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Join Nellie Hermann and the Narrative Medicine community as we begin reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas MannWe will begin by reading the first two chapters for the first week. From there, we will continue at the pace of approximately 40 pages a week, and Nellie will share weekly posts on social media and here on our blog for conversation and reflection. 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 a live virtual discussion every 3rd week on Zoom!

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! 

**Final Book Club Zoom Discussion for the The Magic Mountain**:

Saturday October 3rd, 11:00am EDT: Register Here!

See the latest Book Club posts below:

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

narrative medicine book club: Magic Mountain, Week 15

Week 15: Chauchat is back at the Berghof, and she has brought with her a very colorful character, wonderfully named Mynheer Peeperkorn (!). Aside from comic relief, I wonder what folks think Mann is up to with this character? Castorp and Chauchat share an interesting scene – there is clearly intimacy between them, though she … Read More

Narrative Medicine book club: Magic Mountain, Week 14

Week 14: In this week’s selection we see the return of Joachim to the Berghof — briefly a joyous reunion between the cousins, but then, within a few months, a swift deterioration leading ultimately to Joachim’s death. I’m not sure (yet?) what to make of this! Coming as it does, even in this one section, … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 13

Week 13: This week’s pages were two sections that made an interesting juxtaposition: in the first, we learn more about the character of Naphta, and then Castorp witnesses another extended philosophical argument between Naphta and Settembrini, everything “intertwined and at cross-purposes, a great general confusion,” which is certainly how this reader experienced it! Then in … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 12

Week 12: Joachim leaves the Bergdof! Quite suddenly, in a brief chapter, Castorp’s cousin has had enough and quickly departs. The cousins awkwardly say farewell, Joachim calling Castorp “Hans” in a “moment of the most embarrassing exuberance,” and then Castorp is alone, having chosen to stay on at the sanatorium despite the doctor having given him … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 11

Week 11: I may need someone to explain this week’s pages to me! Castorp and his cousin listen, in two different scenes, to discourse between Settembrini and his new housemate, Naphta, who, we learn late in these pages, is (gasp!) a Jesuit. The two men speak at length of lofty concepts, arguing about freedom, humanism, … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 10

Week 10: Finally Castorp speaks to Madame Chauchat! What a wonderful scene; I wonder if others were surprised, as I was, at how completely Castorp confesses his love! All had been so repressed until this scene, I was surprised to see it come pouring out. His last gushing speech to her, supposedly all in French … Read More


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