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**:

Our next discussion date will be announced soon! Check back!

See the latest Book Club posts below:

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

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain Week 9

Week 9: In this week’s pages, Hans Castorp and his cousin begin a practice of visiting the sick and dying at Berghof. Each time they do this, Castorp feels “his whole being expand with a joy rooted in a sense of helpfulness and quiet importance, but intermingled with a certain jaunty delight in the spotless … Read More

Narrative Medicine Book Club: Magic Mountain, Week 8

Week 8: This week’s pages were my favorite in the book so far. From the examination of Director Behrens’ paintings and in particular his portrait of Madame Chauchat, leading Castorp to expound on the link between science and art, how they “blend together because they have actually always been just one thing,” and into his new interest … Read More

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


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