MY COPY of Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy is open for most of the day, its spine suspended on a wooden bookstand that I carry with me anywhere—in coffee shops, in crowded restaurants, even in libraries.
Leafing through the book reminds me of my first patient, a dead obese lady whom we (my Anatomy groupmates and I) called Big Bertha. My first year in med school was the hardest, and I was most miserable during dissection. It didn't help that she was so huge we had to resort to actual kitchen knives instead of the more sophisticated-looking scalpels. My own copy bears Bertha's juices from five years ago. They no longer smell foul.
These days I have a newfound appreciation for Dr. Frank Netter, whose illustrations are accurate and elegant. It took me a while to get the hang of the doorstop, but investing in it is worth the time, money, and effort. The atlas is a perfect companion to sleepy pre-board exam days, when the anatomy text doesn't make sense. After all, pictures paint a thousand words—and it's the same thing in Anatomy, I guess.