Merriam-Webster defines a handbook as: “A book capable of being conveniently carried as a ready reference.” Regrettably, the term handbookis often used inappropriately by the publishing industry for marketing purposes. Indeed, these days one can find 800-page, hardcover tomes described as handbooks. Although these books may be ready references, they would never make it into the laboratory coat of an overworked, stressed-out intern.
When considering the value of a handbook, the purchasing intern must assess the content to weight + cost ratio; the higher the ratio, the more attractive the book. Is the content up to date, concise yet thorough, easy to find, and thoroughly cross-referenced? Is the book small and light or bulky and heavy, encumbering the intern as he or she darts around the hospital on call? Is the book affordable, or does it require the intern to cut back on caffeine-infused double tall lattes to purchase it? This is the calculus of those in need of medical handbooks. Fortunately, authors Alice W. Flaherty and Natalia S. Rost understand this well and as such have given us the second edition of The Massachusetts General Hospital Handbook of Neurology.
The Massachusetts General Hospital Handbook of Neurology, 2nd Edition. Arch Neurol. 2008;65(2):280-281. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2007.45