Top 5 Books that Inspired Me

Ken Kesey and Tom Wolfe. William James and Philip K. Dick. Welsh’s Trainspotting. Burroughs’s Junky. And DeQuincey’s Confessions of an Opium-Eater.

These are some of the authors and books that often come to mind when you bring up intoxicants in popular fiction and non-fiction. In thinking about the writing of Strange Trips: Science, Culture, and the Regulation of Drugs, it occurs to me that five works were particularly influential.

McGill-Queen’s University Press recently asked me for the top 5 books that inspired my while writing Strange Trips. I had a few thoughts. And you can check out my list over on the MQUP site.

The full article can be found here.

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Here’s the best song I can think of with ‘Top’ in the title.

Lyrics:

Ridin’ down the highway
Goin’ to a show
Stop in all the by-ways
Playin’ rock ‘n’ roll
Gettin’ robbed
Gettin’ stoned
Gettin’ beat up
Broken boned
Gettin’ had
Gettin’ took
I tell you folks
It’s harder than it looks
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
If you think it’s easy doin’ one night stands
Try playin’ in a rock roll band
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll

Then, yes: bagpipes!!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day, folks! Here’s another appropriate song for a ‘Top 5’ post

 

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London Calling

Every book has a back story. In the following series of posts, I share some thoughts about the inception, development, and completion of my new book, Strange Trips: Science, Culture, and the Regulation of Drugs.

From London to Saskatoon

The first phase of writing my second book, Strange Trips, began in 2010.

It was a brisk London evening on February 28th and I was up far too late. My PhD viva was the next day and here I was watching the Olympic Men’s Hockey Final – the United States versus Canada.

The Canadian team, thanks to Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal, ended up winning a tight game and I went to bed enervated. The next day’s examination was a success and I passed with minor corrections.

(Who’s to say how the viva would have turned out if that gold medal game had gone differently?)

After the day’s trials, I caught the Tube home and had a nice evening. My celebrations that night were relaxed and forward-looking. A good friend Morgan – who worked for Groupon at the time – asked about what happened next. Now that this phase of my life was complete, what were my prospects? Did I have a good crack at an academic gig? Did I want to stay in a university-setting?

I told him that I wanted to stay in the academic game, but that it was rough. Seriously rough. The market was constricted in the wake of the recession. I had published a few pieces, but nothing off-the-charts amazing, at least relative to other excellent peer scholars. I told him – honestly – that it would be a real f—— slog and that I was up for it!

We headed off to some pubs in Muswell Hill and continued chatting. Morgan discussed his passion for photography and video and music, while I blathered on about potential writing projects. Morgan told me about street photography and I told him about starting up a book about drugs that were (or could be) both evil and angelic.

That was how Strange Trips started. In North London. In Muswell Hill.  The night of my PhD viva.

It would take another nine years for the book to come to fruition!

Ultimately, The following day I got on a flight to frigid Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where I was working and living. While a book idea had formed, I still had some student loans to pay off and it was time to get back to work.

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So “London Calling” also serves as a section of my book.

In writing about heroin in hospice care and end-of-life care, I discuss how medical knowledge was transmitted between London-based physicians and Canadian doctors.

Thanks for reading!

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