MiLAN and The Wellcome Book Prize

MiLAN Collective brings a themed monthly book group around past winners of the Wellcome Book Prize. The MiLAN's book group usually takes place on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, but keep an eye on the website/Facebook as we will announce any changes here. For more information about MiLAN's book group events, visit our Facebook page. These are the books that the group will be reading in the next months: 

June 13th 2018, 6pm: Allan Jenkins, Plot 29

July 11th 2018, 6pm: Meredith Wadman, The Vaccine Race

August 8th 2018, 6pm: Sigrid Rausing, Mayhem

September 12th 2018, 6pm: Han Kang trans. Deborah Smith, The White Book

October 10th 2018, 6pm: Robert Sapolsky, Behave

November 14th 2018, 6pm: Maggie O'Farrell, I Am, I Am, I Am

December 12th 2018, 6pm: Lindsey Fitzharris, The Butchering Art

January 9th 2019, 6pm: Bernard MacLaverty, Midwinter Break

February 13th 2019, 6pm: Kathryn Mannix, With the End in Mind

The next book group will take place on...

 WEDNESDAY 13th June
Venue: Flat Caps Coffee (6pm-8pm)

The book we have chosen to read and discuss this month is...

Poor 29
by Allan Perkins


As a young boy in 1960s Plymouth, Allan Jenkins and his brother, Christopher, were rescued from their care home and fostered by an elderly couple. They hoped they had found a new life and a family.  There, Allan started to grow flowers in their riverside cottage, learning love from his time in their garden, his first experience of tenderness. Over the course of a year, Allan digs deeper into his past, seeking to learn more about his absent parents uncovering clues to his own hidden family history. What emerges is a vivid portrait of violence and neglect underpinned by kindness and one boy’s enduring love for his brother he couldn’t save. A beautifully written, haunting memoir, Plot 29 is a mystery story and meditation on nature and nurture. It's also a celebration of the joy to be found in sharing food and flowers with people you love.


A compelling read ... Jenkins’ story raises many questions, not least that of whether it’s possible to transcend one’s past. After his own agony, is redemption possible? Read this brilliant book, and weep.
— The Herald

Previously read by MiLAN's book group:





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Wed 9th May
To Be a Machine, by Mark O'Connell

To Be a Machine paints a vivid portrait of an international movement driven by strange and frequently disturbing ideas and practices, but whose obsession with transcending human limitations can be seen as a kind of cultural microcosm, a radical intensification of our broader faith in the power of technology as an engine of human progress.





Wed 11th April
Stay With Me, by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

This Nigerian debut is the heart-breaking tale of what wanting a child can do to a person, a marriage and a family; a powerful and vivid story of what it means to love not wisely but too well.







Wed 14th March
In Pursuit of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer's, by Joseph Jebelli

A fascinating and very human story of the Alzheimer’s epidemic that affects millions of people around the world – and the race against the clock to find a cure.







Wed 21st February
I Contain Multitudes, by Ed Long

In ‘I Contain Multitudes’, Ed Yong opens our eyes and invites us to marvel at ourselves and other animals in a new light, less as individuals and more as thriving ecosystems.







Wed 10th January
How to Survive a Plague, by David France

‘How to Survive a Plague’ is the riveting, powerful and profoundly moving story of the AIDS epidemic and the grassroots movement of activists, many of them facing their own life-or-death struggles, who grabbed the reins of scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection into a manageable disease. 





Wed 13th December
The Golden Age, by Joan London

Set in a convalescent hospital for children with polio, ‘The Golden Age’ is a radiant novel that tells a deeply moving story about illness and recovery, about learning to navigate the unfamiliar, about embracing music, poetry, death and, most importantly, life. 







Wed 8th November
A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, by Adam Rutherford

A dazzling tour of the latest genetic discoveries that are blurring the boundaries between science and history. In this captivating journey through the expanding landscape of genetics, Adam Rutherford reveals what our genes now tell us about history, and what history tells us about our genes. From Neanderthals to murder, from redheads to race, dead kings to plague, evolution to epigenetics, this is a demystifying and illuminating new portrait of who we are and how we came to be.



Wed 11th October
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890's, and enlivened by the debates on scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way. They are Cora Seaborne and Will Ransome.  They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned. Although they can agree on absolutely nothing, as the seasons turn around them in this quiet corner of England, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart.



Wed 13th September
Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

‘Homo Deus’ explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the 21st century – from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.





Wed 9th August
Miss Jane: a novel by Brad Watson

Inspired by the life of Watson’s own great-aunt, this is the story of Miss Jane Chisolm, a woman whose life was shaped and limited by a congenital anomaly that was little-understood in her lifetime. It is a beautiful story of quiet dignity in hard, unromantic times.

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Wed 12th July
Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant

A ground-breaking look at the new science behind the mind’s surprising ability to heal the body, with advice and tips on how we can all use the latest research to improve our health and our lives. Award-winning science writer Jo Marchant travels the world [...] asking how the brain can heal the body and how we can all make changes to keep ourselves healthier.

Mon 12th June
The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

Adam is a stay-at-home dad who is also working on a history of the bombing and rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral. He is a good man and he is happy. But one day, he receives a call from his daughter’s school to inform him that, for no apparent reason, 15-year-old Miriam has collapsed and stopped breathing. In that moment, he is plunged into a world of waiting, agonising, not knowing.


Wed 10th May
The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

‘The Gene’ is an epic, moving history of a scientific idea coming to life. But woven through it, like a red line, is also an intimate history – the story of Mukherjee’s own family and its recurring pattern of mental illness, reminding us that genetics is vitally relevant to everyday lives. 

Wed 12th April
Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal

Just before dawn on a freezing winter’s morning, three young men head out to the sea and go surfing. But on the drive home, their van suddenly veers off the road and one of them, Simon Limbeau, is propelled through the windscreen. At the hospital, Simon’s devastated parents are told that while he is brain-dead and on life support, his heart is still beating perfectly and could be recovered for use in a transplant. They are faced with an agonising choice.

Wed 8th March
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

‘When Breath Becomes Air’ chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father.

Wed 8th Feb
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. Born a poor black tobacco farmer, her cancer cells - taken without her knowledge - became a multimillion-dollar industry and one of the most important tools in medicine. Yet Henrietta's family did not learn of her 'immortality' until more than twenty years after her death, with devastating consequences.


Wed 11th Jan
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

Dr. Jennifer White, a brilliant former surgeon in the early grips of Alzheimer's, is suspected of murdering her best friend, Amanda.  As Jennifer searches her own mind for fractured clues to Amanda's death, a portrait emerges of a complex relationship between two uncompromising, unsentimental, lifelong friends who were at times each other's most formidable adversaries.

Wed 14th Dec
Circulation by Thomas Wright

William Harvey’s theory of circulation was as controversial in its day as Copernicus’ idea that the earth revolved around the sun. Unleashing intellectual anarchy, derailing established ideas, & gaining currency far beyond the walls of the College of Physicians, Harvey’s revolutionary theory went on to permeate the culture and language of 17th century England.

Wed 9th Nov
Far From The Tree by Andrew Solomon

Sometimes your child - the most familiar person of all - is radically different from you. The saying goes that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. But what happens when it does? Drawing on interviews with over three hundred families, Andrew Solomon documents ordinary people making courageous choices.

Wed 12th October
The Iceberg by Marion Coutts

In 2008 the art critic Tom Lubbock was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The tumour was located in the area controlling speech and language, and would eventually rob him of the ability to speak. This book is an account of a family unit, man, woman, young child, under assault, and how the three of them fought to keep it intact.