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Shelf Life is back to hear from another Washington insider about her favorite books and inspirational reads.
This week, Wanda Moebius, vice president of policy communications for the Advanced Medical Technology Association, discusses her early reading of newspapers, as well as the value of medical research and Curious George.
Q. Can you give us an example of a book you read as a child that influenced where you are today?
A. My earliest reading memories aren’t of books but rather sitting on my dad’s lap sounding out words in Stars and Stripes. By middle school, I was addicted to The Washington Post, which helped inform my political perspective and, more importantly, sparked a love of newspapers that led to a brief career as a reporter. I also loved Curious George.
Q. Can you give an example of a book you read in high school or college that influenced you?
A. I read “The Joy Luck Club” my senior year of high school and I distinctly remember being in awe of how Amy Tan knew my secret thoughts. It was the first book I read that reflected the occasional embarrassments, pride, pressures and cultural conflicts facing a girl growing up in a rural white community with a feisty Korean mom. There are lots of books now that address diversity issues but back then — the pre-Amazon days — you only had what the local bookstore sold and there weren’t a lot of Asian “chick lit” books at the top of best-sellers’ lists.
Q. What about a book you’ve read as an adult?
A. My tastes change regularly but my two favorite genres currently are books about the struggle against terrorism and historical romantic novels. Obviously “No Easy Day” [by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer] is a must-read, as is “Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001,” [by Steve Coll]. Slightly off the bin Laden topic but still very compelling is “Escape From Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey From North Korea to Freedom in the West.” I try to read “Pride and Prejudice” [by Jane Austen] every year and still pine for Mr. Darcy. I am not too proud to admit that occasionally I enjoy a good old-fashioned smooch-fest of a paperback romance novel. The only thing these two genres have in common is a happy ending.
Q. What book would you recommend to members of Congress or congressional staff?
A. If they care about health policy or economic growth I’d recommend Robert Topel and Kevin Murphy’s “Measuring the Gains From Medical Research: An Economic Approach.” Medical research has the power to transform patient care but it also can — and does — drive economic gains. And you can never go wrong with Curious George, since life seems to get curiouser and curiouser.