College Reads: “The House of God” by Samuel Shem and “Illness as Metaphor” by Susan Sontag

These are two great reads that have been assigned to the class. “The House of God” is literally the “Catch-22” of the medical field. “Illness as Metaphor” is actually an essay that describes ever metaphor illness has ever been linked to.

For the Representing Medicine class I am taking, these two selections are just two of four big readings we have to know by the end of the summer. “The House of God” reminds me so much of Catch-22 that I am afraid of reading it because I know that I will get hooked to the sensible nonsense that ensues in every sentence (I also have to read to page 140 by tomorrow morning). “Illness as Metaphor” is a great read if you understand most of the comparisons being made. Sontag alludes to many other works of literature and historical figures that carry some weight, but those who do not know what she is talking about may feel overwhelmed by the complexity of her writing and her ability to quote (I know I did).

I must thank my English teachers for they have given me ‘prototypes’ of what my college reads will be about. I read “Catch-22” in 10th grade which helped me with “The House of God”. In 7th I read “The Catcher in the Rye” which helped me make connections to one of the smaller selections earlier in the class. In 12th, I read “Misery” (which we were assigned to read last week but through a different lens) and “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolfe which was a prototype for reading essays and lectures that were written by a woman that helped me make the connection to Susan Sontag and her “Illness as Metaphor” essay.

As I continue through my studies here at UCLA, I know there is one thing that I must thank my English teacher, Mr. Marsh, for: dialetical journals. I must thank him for making us do them because now it is my go to for pulling quotes out of books and adding my own lens on to it. It also helps when I do not have the physical copy of the book, but I am able to contribute to the discussion because I have quotes and page numbers.

Take what you get in high school because there is no way that a college professor is going to sit down and teach you how to annotate.


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