NOTE: The Literature Arts Medicine database maintained by NYU Langone Health features thought-provoking literature, together with commentaries on selected works. Notations marked Commentary on this page link to that database. See also WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THOUGHTFUL READING OF LITERATURE?

In addition, Georgetown University hosts an online course, Interacting with the Medical Humanities, that includes thoughtful discussions of poetry, fiction, drama, essays, and art.


Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.   The film version is here.

Michael Cunningham, The Hours.   NYU Langone commentary

Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man.   Documentary: Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem

Louise Erdrich, The Round House.   Interview with the author

William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying.   Excerpt read by the author

Kazuo Ishiguru, Never Let Me Go.   Kazuo Ishiguru Nobel Prize acceptance speech

Leah Kaminsky, The Waiting Room. Danielle Offri interviews the author.

Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.   Interview with the author

George Orwell, 198410 Songs Inspired by George Orwell’s 1984

Samuel Shem, The House of God. JAMA Network, The House of God (video)

David Small, Stitches (graphic novel — better in hard copy than ebook).   NYU Langone commentary

Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian.   NYU Langone commentary

Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five.  BBC4 Radio version

Short Stories:

Harlan Ellison, “‘Repent, Harlequin’ Said the Ticktockman.”   Audio reading

William Faulkner, “The Bear.”   William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech

Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery.”   Film version

James Joyce, “A Painful Case.”   Author biography and film clips

Franz Kafka, “A Hunger Artist.”   Audio reading

Franz Kafka, “Metamorphosis.”   Audio reading

Ursula K. LeGuin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.”   Audio reading

James Thurber, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”   Audio reading

Leo Tolstoy, “The Death of Ivan Ilych.”   Audio reading


Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise”   Read by the author

Lucille Clifton, “the death of fred clifton

Lucille Clifton, “to my last period

Countee Cullen, “Incident

Emily Dickinson, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes

Emily Dickinson, “Because I could not stop for Death

Emily Dickinson, “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers

Emily Dickinson, “I felt a cleaving in my mind

Emily Dickinson, “Pain has an element of blank

David Gewanter, “My Father’s Autopsy

Donald Hall, “Last Days

Galway Kinnell, “St. Francis and the Sow”   Read by the author

Galway Kinnell, “Wait”   Read by the author

Sylvia Plath, “Daddy”   Read by the author

Sylvia Plath, “Lady Lazarus”   Read by the author

Sylvia Plath, “The Surgeon at 2 A.M.”   Read by the author

Mewlan Jalaluddin Rumi, “The Guest House”   Audio reading


Bertolt Brecht, Galileo.   Video of the play

Athol Fugard, Master Harold . . . and the boys.   Official trailer

Susan Glaspell, TriflesAudio reading

Arthur Miller, Death of a SalesmanDocumentary on Arthur Miller

Ntozake Shange, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf

Interview with Ntozake Shange

Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie.   Interview with Tennessee Williams

August Wilson, Fences.   Official trailer


Roz Chast, Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant (graphic memoir).   NYU Langone commentary

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking.   NYU Langone commentary

Anne Fadiman, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American  Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures.   NYU Langone commentary

Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air.   A Strange Relativity: Altered Time for a Surgeon-Turned-Patient, Paul Kalanithi

Marisa Acocella Marchetto, Cancer Vixen (graphic memoir).   Interview with Marisa Achocella Marchetto


Leah Kaminsky, ed., Writer, M.D.: The Best Contemporary Fiction and Nonfiction by Doctors

Susan Pories, ed., The Soul of a Doctor: Harvard Medical Students Face Life and Death


A Beautiful Mind

Citizen Kane

Clockwork Orange

Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Commentary


The Seventh Seal

The Truman Show



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