New film series Novel Thoughts reveals the reading habits of eight Cambridge scientists and peeks inside the covers of the books that have played a major role in their lives. In the seventh film, Professor Carol Brayne explains how being able to experience life as lived by other people through the works of Dickens, Gaskell and Eliot has given a broader perspective to her work.

Having decided to become a doctor at the age of 10, Professor Carol Brayne’s love of the novels of Charles Dickens and George Eliot fired up her determination to tackle social inequalities in healthcare. Today she is Director of the Cambridge Institute of Public Health. 

Here she talks about this favourite book as part of ‘Novel Thoughts’, a series exploring the literary reading habits of eight Cambridge scientists. From illustrated children’s books to Thomas Hardy, from Star Wars to Middlemarch, we find out what fiction has meant to each of the scientists and peek inside the covers of the books that have played a major role in their lives.

‘Novel Thoughts’ was inspired by research at the University of St Andrews by Dr Sarah Dillon (now a lecturer in the Faculty of English at Cambridge) who interviewed 20 scientists for the ‘What Scientists Read’ project. She found that reading fiction can help scientists to see the bigger picture and be reminded of the complex richness of human experience. Novels can show the real stories behind the science, or trigger a desire in a young reader to change lives through scientific discovery. They can open up new worlds, or encourage a different approach to familiar tasks.

View the whole series: Novel Thoughts: What Cambridge scientists read.

Read about Novel Thoughts.

Is there a novel that has inspired you? Let us know! #novelthoughts

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