I was a teenager when, at Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, I fell in love with books; until then, I just read them. But these were the recently produced Penguin Modern Classics, addictive in their light grey paperback tones, their shape and feel. Among their authors Evelyn Waugh was an early favourite, with his richly laconic prose and his ironic understanding of how and why people behaved in a certain way, and of their often thoughtless assumptions of class and upbringing. For the next 10 years, during which I did a classics degree then a medical degree, a stream of paperbacks (and an unfortunate habit of hoarding them) informed my process of becoming a doctor. The problem of reading good writers, however, is the contrast they make with the appalling prose of your standard textbook or journal article.