Readers are endlessly fascinated by the memoirs of medical professionals, which often tell high-stakes tales of life and death. They also illuminate the lives of the doctors themselves, which can take compelling twists and turns. Here are three intriguing examples reviewed by Kirkus Indie:

A Rural Surgeon (2020) is the third memoir by English-born physician John Case. In it, he tells of how he and his family immigrated to Alberta, where he soon had a thriving surgical practice, “largely due to heavy industry and icy roads,” as Kirkus’ reviewer notes; this results in some graphic passages, as one might expect in a surgeon’s story. But our review also describes it as an “amusing and genuine account” that portrays Case’s Canadian home as “a serene, snowy place with good people.”

Kyle Ver Steeg’s The Making of a Cowboy Doctor (2020) relates the distinctly American tale of an Iowa surgeon in private practice who wears “cowboy attire” as a symbol of the fact that he’s his own boss. His success came after lots of work as a medical student in Illinois, a surgery intern in Iowa, and a medical resident in Texas. Along with his recollections, Ver Steeg presents readers with a “laconic yet admirably forthright dissection of the health care system,” as Kirkus’ review puts it.

In Life Through the Lens of a Doctor Birder (2019), John H. Fitchen writes about his path to a career in academic medicine, which he describes as a “demanding profession comprised of teaching, research, and clinical activities.” Along the way, he was an Air Force flight surgeon and a hematology/oncology fellow at UCLA. Fitchen also relates how he became an avid, world-traveling bird-watcher. Kirkus’ review calls the book an “informative, unusual, occasionally challenging, and generally amiable account by a physician and nature lover.”

David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.