The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee – Audiobook Review

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, narrated by Stephen Hoye
Published in audio by Tantor Media, published in print by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster


“The Emperor of All Maladies” is a sprawling and epic biography of cancer from its earliest mentions, through a rocky history full of misunderstandings, to the latest and greatest cancer drugs of the present.

Thoughts on the work:

Absolutely fascinating.

Almost 600 pages or 21 hours of a discourse on cancer sounds perhaps somewhat intimidating, but Mukherhjee has created a fairly comprehensive biography which can be easily grasped by laymen, but is still detailed. I cannot even begin to list all of the things I learned. The section which has stuck with me more than anything else is the discussion on carcinogens and how they actually cause cancer. My level of thought on that had always been limited more or less to ‘they do,’ without questioning the how. This is merely one example of how Mukherjee makes the reader examine what she thinks she really knows about cancer. I cannot think of a single section of “The Emperor of All Maladies” that failed to excite my interest and curiosity. Best of all, Mukherjee walks the line of intellectual and easily understandable with grace and ease.

Thoughts on the audio production:

I was not terribly fond of Hoye at the outset, but he grew on me throughout the 21 hours of this audiobook. Largely I think he just got out of the way of Mukherjee’s work, but I think that was really exactly what needed to be done. Please see my review for AudioFile Magazine for more details.


I would absolutely recommend “The Emperor of All Maladies.” Whether you partake in print or audio should be determined by the purpose you have in reading it. If you are already a medical science-minded person and want to really get in depth with the details Mukherjee provides, that is often best served by print. However, if you are like me and are looking more for a comprehensible overview of cancer and the history of cancer, audio is a great choice to keep you from getting too caught up in technical jargon and still give a good, comprehensive overview.

Buy this book from:
Audible: Audio
Powells: Audio/Print*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound: Print*
Amazon: Audio/Print*

Source: AudioFile Magazine.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein – Book Review

A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein
Published by Algonquin Books

Doctor Peter Dinzinoff seems to have it all: good friends, lovely house, successful practice, loving wife, and the child for which he and his wife had to try so hard. Really, it isn’t even an illusion of having it all, other than some tension between Pete and his son, his life really is going splendidly. Until it isn’t any longer. By the opening of “A Friend in the Family,” Pete has been kicked out of the house with his wife contemplating divorce and removed from his medical practice. He can no longer bring himself to answer his best friend’s phone calls and his son won’t speak to him. As he sits in his garage apartment and awaits a civil trial that could change his life for the better or for the worse, he begins reminiscing on what exactly brought him to this point, and remembering all the ways in which he has really been a very lucky man.

I have been reading a whole lot of really fabulous books lately, and “A Friend of the Family” is another in that line. Please prepare yourself for gushing (this seems to be happening at least once a week – not that I am complaining!).

“A Friend of the Family” is one of those books that I loved so much it is almost difficult to say why. The main thing is that Grodstein purely and simply wrote a book that I didn’t want to put down and, when I had to put it down, I counted the minutes until I could pick it back up again. Even more amazingly, she did so without histrionics or manufactured suspense. Although this is not a mystery per se, the reader is left wondering what exactly happened to cause Pete to lose everything. This desire to understand what happened flows out of a genuine regard for Pete and his friends and family created by Grodstein’s impeccable character development and sustained by flawless structure of the novel, with brief glimpses of the present amidst the flashback narrative. It does not always work well to have the majority of story told as flashbacks, but it definitely did in this case – I think it helped that the flashbacks proceeded in chronological order, so as not to perplex the reader. Although  I knew it would break my heart on his behalf, I simply had to find out what happened to Pete, as if he were a real person whose story I was hearing.

Love. Very, very highly recommend.

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*

Source: review copy
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.