"Becoming a Nurse," by Sonny Kleinfield

I will read anything that Sonny Kleinfield writes — the graceful long-form stories he wrote for the New York Times, his book about the Plaza Hotel ("The Hotel"), and this book about, well, about becoming a nurse. I don't plan to become a nurse myself, and yet I found this fascinating. It's gracefully structured, beautifully written and packed with useful information, telling details and drama.

Kleinfield follows Hadassah Lampert, a nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, showing how her days unfold, giving the back story of how she became a nurse, broadening his scope to discuss everything from E.R. regulars (sometimes looking for drugs, sometimes looking for companionship), the dangers of the job, and the emotional toll that nursing can take.

All is told in Kleinfield's clean, simple style, and you are always aware that the person guiding you through the story is calm, observant and sometimes wryly funny.

"Becoming a Nurse" is part of Simon & Schuster's "Masters at Work" series — nearly 20 books, so far, all nonfiction narrative intended to help readers understand various careers. You might not want to become a nurse by the time you finish Kleinfield's book, but you'll feel reassured that if you ever need a nurse, you'll be in good hands.


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