Book By My Bedside: The House of God // Samuel Shem


Title: The House of God

Author: Samuel Shem

What I Think So Far: Recommended to me by my Dad, who is a doctor, it became immediately apparent upon reading the first few pages of The House of God that my Dad’s cynicism about his patients and colleagues is not as unique to him as I once thought. A story centered on the life of medical intern, Roy Basch, the reader watches as he makes mistakes and learns on the job in the House of God hospital. It’s funny, it’s also disgusting, with Shem painting a colourful set of characters who are wholly three-dimensional.  The minimal use of medical jargon means it’s very easy to engage with without having a medical background, and the short nature of the chapters makes it great for reading when you’re out and about – on a bus, or perhaps even waiting to see a doctor yourself.

Would I recommend?  Described by Cosmopolitan as “Catch 22 with stethoscopes”, this is not one for the more squeamish amongst you. That said anyone who has watched and enjoyed the performance of Hugh Laurie in House will undoubtedly appreciate the abundance of witticisms in this novel. The House of God’s answer to Laurie’s House is the Fat Man, who can be counted on to say it like it is: “Gomer is an acronym: Get Out Of My Emergency Room – it’s what you want to say when one’s sent in from the nursing room at three A.M…. they want to die, and we will not let them”. Such cutting-edge humour – when you don’t know whether to laugh or tut disapprovingly – is fused with the medical romance of Scrubs in an exploration of the not-so-gentle art of healing.

Words by Beth Kirkbride


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