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! 

**Next Scheduled Zoom Discussion for the Book Club**:

Sunday July 12th, 11AM EST: Register Here

See the latest Book Club posts below:

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 7

Week 7: Hans Castorp achieves his “freedom” by writing home for the third time, telling his relatives he has to stay at the sanatorium and asking them to mail him his winter clothes. He has settled in, and begins to take real pleasure in his obsession with Madame Chauchat, even as the others around him … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 6

Week 6: Castorp stays in bed for three weeks, “impounded by fate.” Time collapses — “it is always the same day – it just keeps repeating itself … [so] it is surely not correct to speak of ‘repetition.’ One should speak of monotony, of an abiding now, of eternalness.” This description reminded me of the … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 5

Week 5: In this week’s pages Castorp gets his first official “admittance” to the sanatorium as a “patient” rather than a “visitor.” It feels inevitable to us, of course, knowing he will stay, and having watched Castorp’s progression up to now. But for me maybe the most fascinating element of the book so far is … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain Week 4

Week 4: The attached quote, referring to the idea of a sick physician (in a paragraph questioning whether a person who is sick can nurse “others in the same way a healthy person can”), seems particularly apt for our current moment, as our country begins (hopefully) to reckon seriously with the ways systemic racism is … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain Week 3

Week 3: Hans Castorp has barely been at the sanatorium even a week, but he feels he has been there “a very long time” – the reader, too, feels a sense of expanded time, and wonders at the way that Mann, the writer, is creating for us a sense of what his character is experiencing. … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: June 5, 2020

Dear NM Book Club members: This week, in solidarity with the ongoing protests around the country, we have decided to take a pause on our reading of The Magic Mountain in order to give space and time to those voices. We will resume next week (and will send next assignment then), and our zoom meeting … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 2

Week 2: We are learning more about life at the sanatorium and getting a sense of the cast of characters. Castorp and his cousin eat lavish meals, take their “rest cures” in the terrifically comfortable balcony chairs, and we see Castorp beginning to be acclimatized to the life of being a “patient” without necessarily being … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 1

So we begin our journey with The Magic Mountain! Approximately 40 pages in and I, for one, am already hooked. I love how Mann signals so clearly in the Foreword how this book will be concerned primarily with the “problematic and uniquely double nature of that mysterious element,” time. Given our current pandemic quarantine status, I … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: May 2, 2020

And so we reach the end of Camus’ plague, and the end of the novel. The narrator is revealed, and expresses his desire to  be an “objective witness,” taking “the side of the victim,” “on the basis of the only certainties [we] all have in common, which are love, suffering and exile.” The last paragraph reminds … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: May 1, 2020

In today’s pages we witness the death of Tarrou. It’s a very moving scene, not least for the ways that it shows the deep friendship and tenderness between Tarrou and Rieux. The narrator describes the silence that surrounds the doctor in the wake of the death, a silence that he has noticed throughout the plague … Read More


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