“Not all readers are leaders. But all leaders are readers.”
– Harry S. Truman

Dr. Lainie Yarris is the Program Director at Oregon Health and Sciences University Emergency Medicine Residency as well as the Co-Director of the Emergency Medicine Education Scholarship Fellowship and Co-Director for Faculty Development for OHSU School of Medicine. Beyond these multiple roles she has most readily known for her leadership in Emergency Medicine Education research, authoring over 40 publications and acting as a mentor for the MERC program, in addition to serving as an editor on multiple journals. She is an inspiration and role model for those of us in the Emergency Medicine education community. We are pleased to have her give us her book recommendations.


Lainie Yarris

Dr. Lainie Yarris (@lainieyarris)

I appreciate the opportunity to share some of my favorite books. I have always loved reading, and I always have a book with me on plane rides, vacations, and on my bedside table. My three kids, ages 7, 11, and 14, are all avid readers too, and I love sharing my favorite childhood books with them, and reading along with them as they discover their own favorites. I struggled to narrow down the list of books to highlight for this post, and have chosen to share 5 books that have really touched and impacted me, in all of the different realms of my life.

Organization and time management

Getting Things Done by David Allen (2002) [Amazon Link]41YJyWQCBZL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_

Getting Things Done by David Allen. I have read this book several times, and applying the principles to my life has really shaped how I process email and tasks, prioritize, and save time. A few gems:  Free up mental working space by keeping a running list of all pending action-items; Apply the “two-minute rule,” and if something takes less than two minutes to do, do it immediately; Do high-priority task BEFORE doing e-mail; and make explicit choices to place things on the Someday/Maybe list – be ok with not doing them now!

51H8x07Fd7L._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (2014) [Amazon Link]

This decluttering and organizational book has been influential to me not because I am a particularly neat person, but because I find the key principle to be so powerful, and so applicable to many things we struggle with as academicians! Essentially, Kondo suggests that rather than sorting through our life and discarding the things that are broken or ill-fitting, we should sort through our life and make active choices to keep only the things that truly spark joy when we hold them close to us. We should let go of everything else, after thanking it for the role it has played in our life.

My interpretation:  Just as in our closets, in our work and home lives there is so much we keep and do because it still functions, or we don’t dislike it, or we feel we should – but this approach does not reliably hold space for the things, projects, and relationships that are the most meaningful to us. Protect your space and time for what truly sparks joy – let go of the rest.


415yphlMWKL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_My Grandfather’s Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD. (2001) [Amazon Link]

My Grandfather’s Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD. The physician-author of Kitchen Table Wisdom [Amazon Link] wrote this book, inspired by her grandfather, about the ways we are all both blessed and connected. The stories she relays touch upon themes of family, loss, gratitude, and love. “Perhaps the wisdom lies in engaging the life you have been given as fully and courageously as possible and not letting go until you find the unknown blessing that is in everything.”


When Things Fall Apart (2000) [Amazon Link]

As a mom, daughter, wife, friend, individual, and Emergency Physician, I have been humbled to bear witness to the most vulnerable moments of loved ones and strangers alike, and I am amazed at the human spirit, our capacity for love, hope, and resiliency, the suffering we endure, and the peace we can find despite it. We all have moments where it is all too much, when things fall apart – and Chodron’s teachings provide insight on how to harness these most difficult moments by moving towards the suffering, and in doing so, finding acceptance and compassion for ourselves.


51VlKD1aucL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (2014) [Amazon Link]

I love fiction, ranging from well-crafted literature, to quick beach reads. In this young adult novel, Green artfully uses authentic dialogue, humor, skillful character development, and beautiful writing in a way that is memorable and moving. It is a story of first love, of literature, of travel, of illness and loss, of grief and survival. It makes you want to fall in love, be in love, do what you love, and live the life you love.

* Disclaimer: We have no affiliations financial or otherwise with the authors, books, references, or hyperlinks listed. The Amazon links, however, are Amazon affiliate links.

Taku Taira, MD

Taku Taira, MD

Assistant Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine
Associate Program Director
LAC + USC Emergency Medicine Residency
Taku Taira, MD


Associate Program Director LAC+USC Emergency Medicine Residency