Book Recommendations

Here is a compilation of some of my favorite books about medicine.  I’ve split the list up into different categories:  Writing by Physicians, Writing by Patients, Books about Health Care, Medical History Books, and Other.

Writing by Physicians

Quackery by Lydia King

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

God’s Hotel by Victoria Sweet

This Won’t Hurt a Bit (and other white lies):  My Education in Medicine and Motherhood by Michelle Au

Better:  A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande

Complications:  A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande

The Checklist Manifesto:  How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story by Abraham Verghese

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

The Emperor of All Maladies:  A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Gifted Hands:  The Ben Carson Story by Ben Carson

Kill as Few Patients as Possible by Oscar London

Chekhov’s Doctors:  A Collection of Chekhov’s Medical Tales by Anton Chekhov

Love, Medicine, & Miracles:  Lessons Learned About Self-Healing from a Surgeon’s Experience with Exceptional Patients by Bernie S. Siegel

The Art of Medicine:  What Every Doctor & Patient Should Know by Kevin J. Soden

On Call:  A Doctor’s Days and Nights in Residency by Emily R. Transue

How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman

The Scalpel and the Silver Bear by Lori Arviso Alvord

Intern by Sandeep Jauhar

Overdo$ed America:  The Broken Promise of American Medicine by John Abramson

Ask Me Why I Hurt: The Kids Nobody Wants and the Doctor Who Heals Them by Randy Christensen

Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders

Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality by Pauline Chen

Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab by Christine Montross

Death of the Good Doctor: Lessons from the Heart of the AIDS Epidemic by Kate Scannell

Leaning to Play God: The Coming of Age of a Young Doctor by Robert Marion

Writing by Patients

Wit by Margaret Edson

Breathing for a Living:  A Memoir by Laura Rothenberg

My Stroke of Insight:  A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.

A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas

Books about Health Care

Overtreated:  Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer by Shannon Brownlee

The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

Beyond Caring:  Hospitals, Nurses, and the Social Organization of Ethics by Daniel Chambliss

Baby at Risk:  The Uncertain Legacies of Medical Miracles for Babies, Families, and Society by Ruth Levy Guyer

Medicine & Culture by Lynn Payer

Pushed:  The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Maternity Care by Jennifer Block

Medical History Books

Frontier Medicine:  From the Atlantic to the Pacific, 1492 – 1941 by David Dary

Polio:  An American Story by David Oshinsky

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks


Stiff:  The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Medical Miracles:  Doctors, Saints, and Healing in the Modern World by Jacalyn Duffin

Doctors’ Stories:  The Narrative Structure of Medical Knowledge by Kathryn Montgomery Hunter

Altered Conditions:  Disease, Medicine, and Storytelling by Julia Epstein

The Wounded Storyteller:  Body, Illness, and Ethics by Arthur W. Frank


7 Responses to Book Recommendations

  1. Monica says:

    Gifted Hands–did you know it was also adapted into a movie? Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Ben Carson. Watched it and thought it was pretty decent as well!

  2. Cathy H. says:

    Love the list! I’ve read quite a few of these. 🙂 Can I add a recommendation? ‘Hot Lights Cold Steel’ by Dr. Micheal J. Collins is fantastic!

  3. doctordogma says:

    Hi Emily, I’ve really enjoyed your blog and you’ve got a great list here. I will definitely be checking some of these books out. I graduated from undergrad in May 2014 and I am going through the motions of applying to doctor of osteopathy schools. I started my own blog to chronicle my experience and I’d love for you to check it out. You are on my blogroll! Best of luck with your surgery rotation.

  4. penguinanne says:

    Atul Gwande! =) and thanks for sharing your list! will definitely check them out during my next trip to the bookstore!

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